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British Runner Makes History As 1st Woman To Finish Grueling Ultramarathon

British runner Jasmin Paris made history by becoming the first woman to complete the Barkley Marathons in Tennessee. Photo: Instagram / searchingforzocherman

Jasmin Paris, hailing from Midlothian, has etched her name in the annals of sports history by becoming the first woman ever to complete the Barkley Marathons, one of the world's toughest ultramarathons, BBC reported. She crossed the finish line in Tennessee with a mere one minute and 39 seconds to spare before the 60-hour cut-off, captivating thousands of supporters who followed her journey on social media.

The Barkley Marathons, held at Frozen Head State Park, is renowned for its daunting course that changes annually. Covering 100 miles (approximately 160km) and featuring a grueling 60,000 feet (over 18,000m) of climb and descent—twice the height of Mount Everest—the race is a supreme test of endurance.

Since the course extension to 100 miles in 1989, only 20 individuals have managed to complete the race within the stipulated 60-hour timeframe. Jasmin, a 40-year-old veterinarian, navigated through treacherous and often trackless terrain, pushing herself to run through the night.

Despite her exhaustion, evident as she collapsed upon finishing, Jasmin's accomplishment was hailed by David Miller, a professional photographer at the event, who described it as the "greatest ultramarathon achievement of all time." He recounted the intense atmosphere at the finish line, with Jasmin sprinting to complete the race and the crowd erupting into cheers as she touched the gate before collapsing.

The Barkley Marathons, with its peculiar traditions, consists of roughly five loops of 20 miles (32km), with only 35 participants permitted each year. The race's origin stems from a challenge conceived by Gary "Lazarus Lake" Cantrell and Karl Henn, inspired by the 1977 escape of James Earl Ray, the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr., from nearby Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary.

Prospective participants must submit a compelling essay along with an entrance fee, and if selected, receive a letter of condolence. Racers must also bring an additional item as a donation, such as a white shirt or socks, for being a non-finisher.

Jasmin's remarkable feat adds to her impressive list of achievements in ultrarunning, including breaking the course record in the Montane Spine Race in 2019. Her story has captivated the world and cemented her status as one of the most remarkable athletes in the sport.

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