An Edinburgh mum has made history after becoming the first woman to win the gruelling Spine Race - despite expressing milk for her baby during the 268-mile course.
Ultrarunner Jasmin Paris completed the exhausting route along the Pennine Way, from Derbyshire to the Scottish border, in a stunning 83 hours, 12 minutes and 23 seconds.
Her time is a new race record, smashing the previous best of 95hrs 17mins set by Eoin Keith in 2016. The previous female race record was 109 hours 54 minutes set by Carol Morgan in 2017.
The 35-year-old’s accomplishment is all the more impressive considering she stopped off at checkpoints throughout the race to express breast milk for her 14-month old daughter Rowan. She revealed she was in agony during the race but the thought of seeing Rowan at the finish line was spurring her on.
Paris, who works at the University of Edinburgh studying acute myeloid leukaemia, told the BBC: “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.
“Although my milk production diminished throughout the race, I did express at four out of the five checkpoints. She was very bemused to see me on the finish line and has been very clingy since as if she is thinking I might go away again.”
The Spine Race is considered Britain’s toughest ultra running challenge, with many of its competitors failing to reach the finish line. Entrants have seven days to complete the race but the clock never stops.
Ms Paris, from Gladhouse Reservoir, revealed she only slept for three hours during what is undoubtedly the best performance of her career.
The vet is well known in British endurance running circles having won the British women’s fell running championships last year as well as a series of leading ultraraces.
She reached the finish line in Kirk Yetholm on Wednesday night having started in Edale in the Derbyshire Peak District on Sunday. After the race, in which runners carry their own kit throughout, Ms Paris admitted to having hallucinations in the later stages.
“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,” 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.”
Scott Gilmour, The Montane Spine Race director, 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.”
He added: “The four-day record of 95 hours was really tough and we didn’t think it was possible to beat it due to sleep depravation, its incredible.
“She absolutely dictated the pace of the race, it’s an incredible feat. She’s such a figure head and such a champion and she will inspire others.”