Just after 7pm on Wednesday 16th January 2019 history was made. Jasmin Paris won the 268 mile Montane Spine Race outright, obliterating both the men’s and women’s records in the process.
It was no surprise that inov-8 athlete Jasmin was among the leading pack with Eoin Keith (former winner and record holder) and Eugeni Roselló Solé (former winner) in the early stages. She is the holder of all three women’s British round records, as well as being the outright record holder for the Ramsay Round, and she has previously finished in second place overall in Dragon’s Back. Her competition was always going to be with the top men.
Eoin Keith dropped off the leading pack fairly early in the race and from then on it was a battle of strategy and resilience between Eugeni and Jasmin. He stuck with her doggedly until she pushed on out of the Alston aid station at mile 194 and she never looked back. By the time she finished she had opened up a gap of 10 miles on Eugeni, who was sadly so cold and utterly spent that he was forced to retire at the final checkpoint, an agonising six kilometres from the finish.
Jasmin’s win is a phenomenal achievement for many reasons. Firstly, there’s no doubt that she set out to win overall and to break the course records. She clearly pushed incredibly hard the whole way and she reportedly only slept for around two hours and 15 minutes during the whole race. She was fiercely competitive and she destroyed all the competition. With a smile on her face.
Secondly, this race is hard. 268 miles of the Pennine Way, through the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, Cheviots and Scottish Borders, in January with high winds and freezing cold temperatures is a huge challenge. The runners face short daylight hours, with two thirds of the race being run in the dark. It’s also non-stop. There are no set stages, you sleep in checkpoints when you need to and if you are out to win you don’t do that very much! Tactics play a huge part in this race.
Thirdly, she is the mother of a 14 month old daughter, who she is still breastfeeding, so she was reportedly expressing milk at some checkpoints. How much more of an inspiration can one woman be?
She finished in 83 hours and 12 minutes, chopping 12 hours off Eoin Keith’s men’s record and an incredible 26 hours off Carol Morgan’s women’s record. Gender aside, this was just a phenomenal run by anybody’s standards. Jasmin Paris’s run will go down in history in the world of ultrarunning and it’s already starting to redefine how we talk about course records in terms of gender.
Eoin Keith came in second (or first man) in 98 hours and John Knapp looks set to take third place later today. The second woman is currently Shelli Gordon, who is running in memory of Tony Holland, at 227 miles and Gabriele Kenkenberg is currently in third. There’s still a long way to go for the majority of competitors and you can keep dot watching and supporting http://live.thespinerace.com/.