"I would never have let it rest" – watch as Jasmin Paris sprints to victory during sadistic Barkley Marathons

Jasmin ran the Spine Race in the new ROCLITE 275 with Graphene
The ultra runner says knowing she'd have to return next year gave her the final boost she needed to cross the line (Image credit: inov-8)

After making history on Friday as the first female runner ever to finish the Barkley Marathons, Jasmin Paris has spoken out about what was going through her mind during her final, brutal lap. Paris completed the sadistic ultra running event in Tennessee with a scant 99 seconds to spare, which added a whole new level of drama to a race designed to be virtually impossible.

In an interview with the BBC, which you can watch below, she says she realized her race was going to be close for the last six hours.

"I was really pushing. It wasn't until the last kilometer that I really sort of doubted that it was going to be possible."

The British runner set off on the punishing course on Wednesday morning at 5:17 a.m. as part of a group of runners that typically numbers 35, all hand-selected by race organizers. The course consists of five 20-mile laps of mountainous terrain in Frozen Head State Park and is so challenging that before this year, only 17 runners had ever completed it in the event's nearly 40-year history. Making matters more difficult, participants have to complete the race inside 60 hours to qualify as finishers.

"I was just so desperate to stop running and to walk and I knew that I couldn't because I wouldn't make it," says Paris, who has failed to finish the race twice before. This year, she says it was the thought of having to return once again that spurred her on.

"If I didn't make it this time it was going to be by seconds and then I would have to come back and do the whole thing again, all those five loops, because I would never have let it rest."

In the end, video shows her impressively sprinting to the finish line despite having spent the majority of the previous 59 hours, 58 minutes and 21 seconds on her feet. 

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"I did it for women worldwide"

Widely circulated photos taken by the race's few spectators, which you can see below, show the 40-year-old mother of two collapsing at the end of the race, leaving no doubt as to how ghastly the Barkley Marathons is.

"I did it for me and I'm super happy that I achieved what I set out to do," explains the veterinarian.

"But I'm also really glad that I kind of did it for women worldwide as well. Not just runners but any woman that wants to take a challenge."

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Though Paris' victory is grabbing all the headlines, there are other stories from this year's race. Jared Campbell bagged his fourth finish, John Kelly his third and 29-year-old Ukrainian runner Ihor Verys completed the race in completed the race in 58:44:59 to become this year's winner. Verys has been living in BC since 2015 and has won almost every race he's entered since 2021.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.