IT’S a formidable mountain race widely regarded among the toughest challenges of its kind in the world.
The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race sees athletes attempt to run more than 180 miles and scale 52,500ft – almost twice the height of Everest – in just five days.
Heading south along the mountainous spine of Wales, runners face climbs and navigational challenges so brutal that fewer than half of them – 64 out of 140 – completed every stage.
But super-fit ultra-runner Jasmin Paris claimed second place in the gruelling five-day race to make a mockery of the phrase “sorting the men from the boys” after beating 116 men to the finish line.
Pushed to the limits of human endurance, she finished almost exactly two hours ahead of boyfriend Konrad Rawlik, who came third despite struggling with tendonitis.
Jasmin, 31, said: “There is a bit of competition between us, but less than you might expect.
“I would be less bothered if he passed me rather than someone else because I want him to do well.”
Konrad, 32, added: “There is no real rivalry. She’s very fast and finished ahead of everyone else too.”
The couple, who live together in a cottage close to the Gladhouse Reservoir near Penicuik, train in the nearby Moorfoot Hills and are both members of the Carnethy Hill Running Club.
Describing the run, Jasmin said: “I felt pretty good throughout but I started to feel quite tired towards the end of the week.
“The only bits I didn’t enjoy was running along the road when I lost a bit of motivation.
“I’m really glad I didn’t get injured which is a real risk on events like this.”
The part of the challenge she enjoyed most was the section that many runners found the most challenging – the knife-edged Crib Goch ridge in the Snowdonia National Park.
She said: “It’s really exposed and a lot of people were quite nervous, but I enjoyed it and left a few of them behind.
“They weren’t really running up that point but that was probably my favourite part.”
She added: “It’s a great feeling to finish second overall. The event has lived up to my expectations with five fantastic days of mountain running.
“To finish the fifth day running together with Jim and Konrad, and sharing the spirit of the journey in a group was everything that I had hoped for.”
Jasmin is also set to take on the Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run at the end of August and beginning of September.
She works as a clinical lecturer in the Small Animal Hospital at Edinburgh University, and is now studying for a PhD at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine, while Konrad is a post doctoral researcher at the Roslin Institute.
The overall winner was Jim Mann, 38, from County Durham, but three women including Jasmin were hot on his heels and finished in the top six.
Race director Shane Ohly said: “The 2015 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race has proved that there are some phenomenal female mountain runners and to have three in the top six of this legendary event demonstrates just how good the women are at ultra-endurance running.”
Jim led the overall standings from start to finish and never looked in danger of losing his lead while Jasmin was always at the front of the women’s race and moved her way up the overall leaderboard as the week progressed.
The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race has only been staged in 1992, 2012 and this year, and has a global reputation as the most challenging event of its type.