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Jasmin Paris takes ultrarunning mainstream after making Barkley Marathons history

Jonathan Turner
News Director
Updated on

Jasmin Paris‘ groundbreaking achievement at the Barkley Marathons has taken ultrarunning mainstream in the UK and beyond.

The 40-year-old Briton, a mum of two and a vet and research scientist, became the first ever woman to finish the notorious endurance event in Tennessee on Friday evening.

Given that she is just the 20th person to complete the five 20-mile loops since it became a 100-mile event in 1989, it’s rightly regarded as the toughest ultramarathon on the planet – and attracts the world’s very best ultrarunners as a result.

Groundswell of support

There was a sense of anticipation building as she completed her third loop on Thursday – here at RUN247 we initiated a #smalleuropeanwoman hashtag campaign (with a nod to the cryptic descriptions of the runners at the Barkley) to galvanise support for what she faced in the next 24 hours.

And by the time she’d become the first woman to complete lap four within the 48-hour cut-off, #smalleuropeanwoman was trending in both the UK and the United States.

She went on to reach the finish line with just 99 seconds to spare to the delight of everyone who was following and the interest has sky-rocketed ever since.

Inspirational story

In the UK, within an hour of the BBC publishing a piece on their website about the achievement it had become their most read story, even ahead of the latest news about the Princess of Wales’ cancer diagnosis.

And later that day on the main national news, which is still watched by millions, there was a feature on her achievement and footage of her at the finish line.

Paris has made the headlines before – back in 2019 when she set a new course record (for both men and women) at the 268-mile Winter Spine Race in the UK, while expressing breastmilk at aid stations for her infant daughter.

But this is another level and it’s not only richly-deserved recognition for Jasmin but is clearly an inspiring story for so many, especially women and girls, as to what’s possible.

The interest has also prompted British bookmakers to quote her for the BBC Sports Personality Award for 2024, Skybet offering 100/1.

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  

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