Breastfeeding mum Jasmin Paris smashes ultra running race record

16:55 pm on 18 January 2019

A Scottish vet has broken the record for a 431km race by more than 12 hours, expressing milk for her 14-month-old baby on stops.

Scottish runner Jasmin Paris with her baby. Photo: Loic Tregan / Twitter / @inov-8

Jasmin Paris, 35, became the first woman to win the Montane Spine Race - from Derbyshire to the Scottish borders - completing it in 83 hours, 12 minutes and 23 seconds.

She slept just over two hours in the four days of her race during a week-long break from writing her PhD thesis, which she must hand in by the end of March.

"I never thought I would do this race as I've heard it's absolute torture, but its good to set yourself a challenge, because it's exciting, so I entered," she said.

"It was the hardest race I've done due to the amount of time and weather wise, but I'm really happy because I gave it my best shot. I raced hard and gave it the best I could.

"It's been a life affirming experience and it will take me a couple of weeks to recover from the effort and cost it took."

Hallucinating: 'Trees ... doing a morning workout'

Competitors have one week to complete the gruelling race, which travels over hilly terrain and covers more than 13,000m of climbing - more than Mt Everest's 8848m.

They spend two-thirds of the race in the dark and carry all their own kit and supplies, with no personal support team or runner with them on the course.

Mrs Paris said the race was brutal, and by the last day she was hallucinating.

"I saw a pig in the heather, trees stretching and doing a morning workout in the woods, workmen doing stretches, a house appeared and I was very cold.

"There is not much of a comfort zone between a bad situation and an okay situation and I was aware I was pushing my limits but I know that's what happens."

Physically she got off lightly compared with other competitors with just a few blisters and sore and blackened toenails, she said.

"I was worried at the start of the race when I heard other runners saying they had taped their feet up as I hadn't, but somehow I've not really had any problems with my feet apart from losing the skin between my toes.

"I think it comes from all the running I do, it's toughened up my feet. I was running 100 miles a week in the run up to the race."

Jasmin Paris after crossing the finish line. Photo: YouTube / Fair Use

The Spine Race 2013 winner, Eugeni Rosello Sole, was forced to push his emergency button 6km before the end, which eliminated him from the race after becoming unwell from sleep deprivation.

"I started thinking I could possibly win and it was exciting when it turned into a race and Eugeni was chasing me for 40 miles.

"A man was also popping up along the course telling me our split times, which made it really exciting and when Eugeni was entering one of the checkpoints and I was leaving I think it broke his morale."

Breastfeeding during a four-day run

Mrs Paris said that despite having frozen breast milk at home before the race for her 14-month-old daughter, she expressed milk during the race to stop mastitis.

"I had thought I would have stopped breast feeding by this point and tried when Rowan was one, but over Christmas she got two viruses and I had to go back to feeding her multiple times throughout the night to soothe her."

She said her milk production diminished throughout the race, but she did express at four out of the five checkpoints.

"The first night was the hardest for me mentally because I was away from my daughter, but as the race went on it got easier as I got used to being away from her.

"She was very bemused to see me on the finish line and has been very clingy today as if she is thinking I might go away again."

'One of the greatest stories in the history of ultra-running'

The Montane Spine Race director Scott Gilmour said it was an "incredible feat".

"Never underestimate a competitor whether it's a man or a woman. It's the person's dedication and attitude that drives results," he said.

"Paris is a machine so this result is not a surprise to us, but what is brilliant is she carried all that expectation and pressure on her shoulders."

Team manager Lee Procter said the team at inov-8, her sponsor, were very proud.

"She is not a professional, full-time athlete, but instead a down-to-earth, modest mum-of-one with an incredible talent and phenomenal strength, both physically and mentally.

"What she has achieved in this race in beating everyone of both sexes and setting a new overall course record is one of the greatest stories in the history of ultra-running as a sport."