HomeLearning CenterJasmin Paris Becomes First Woman to Complete Extreme Barkley Race

Jasmin Paris Becomes First Woman to Complete Extreme Barkley Race

Originally published by Emmett Lindner for the New York Times

The runner Jasmin Paris became on Friday the first woman to complete the Barkley Marathons, an extreme footrace that requires participants in rural Tennessee to navigate 100 miles of rugged terrain in no more than 60 hours.

Paris, 40, of Midlothian, Scotland, finished the race with one minute and 39 seconds to spare, making her one of only 20 people to complete the Barkley since it was extended to 100 miles in 1989. She was one of five to finish this year, out of 40 entrants.

At the end of the run, Paris sank to the ground in front of a yellow gate that marks the start and finish of the event, which consists of five roughly 20-mile laps.

“The final minutes were so intense, after all that effort it came down to a sprint uphill, with every fiber of my body screaming at me to stop,” Paris said in an email.

Her legs were covered in cuts and scratches by the time she reached the end of the race, which was the subject of a 2014 documentary, “The Race That Eats Its Young.”

“I didn’t even know if I’d made it when I touched the gate,” she added. “I just gave it everything to get there and then collapsed, gasping for air.”

She attempted the race in 2022 and 2023 and became the first woman to reach the fourth lap since 2001. Though she didn’t complete the event in those years, she said that she felt more confident and experienced going into the race on Friday.

In 2019, Ms. Paris, an ultrarunner and veterinarian, became the first woman to win the Montane Spine Race, a 268-mile ultramarathon in the United Kingdom. She broke the previous course record by 12 hours despite stopping at checkpoints to pump breast milk for her newborn.

The Barkley began in 1986, after its founder, Gary Cantrell, learned about the prison escape of James Earl Ray, the man who assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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