It’s been a whirlwind 10 months for Jasmin Paris. In December she gave birth to her first child – a baby daughter called Rowan. Just four months later she won the opening race of four in the 2018 British Fell Running Championship. In September, the 34-year-old wrapped up the British Championship title and then won silver at the Skyrunner World Series race held in Glen Coe, Scotland.
Now Jasmin and husband Konrad Rawlik are partnering up as Team inov-8 to take on one of the world’s most extreme one-day mountain running challenges, the Els 2900. We chatted to Jasmin ahead of the event in Andorra on October 6th.
What is Els 2900 and what attracted you to want to do this race?
Els 2900 runs over the seven highest peaks of Andorra (all above 2900m of altitude, hence the name) starting at the Refugi Estanys de la Pera hut and ending at the Coma Pedrosa hut. It is approximately 70km long, with 6700m of ascent. It is more of a mountaineering challenge than a race, with an emphasis on navigation and self-sufficiency. The event is small (only 25 teams of two) and technical – in fact, bonus time is given (i.e. deducted) for those teams choosing to go via the more technical Cresta dels Malhiverns ridge rather than a faster low-level option. Who wouldn’t be tempted by a race like that?!
Tell us a bit about how, as husband and wife, you will work as a team?
I’ve raced as a team with Konrad on several occasions previously (in various mountain marathons, like this year’s Low Alpine Mountain Marathon where we won the score class, or the 8-day Gore-Tex Transalpine Run in 2015, where we finished 3rd Mixed Team), and have always really enjoyed it. Communication is easy since know each other inside out, including our limitations. We are reasonably well matched in terms of running, but Konrad is a much better climber than me so I’ll be relying on him to lead the way on anything technically tricky.
The race sounds super-technical with climbing and scrambling involved in places (see Instagram post above from last year’s race). How have you trained for it?
Good question! We had grand plans about all the climbing we’d do, but somehow life (more specifically the baby in our lives) got in the way. Nevertheless, we did spend a week in the Val di Mello valley in Italy at the end of August, and managed several training scrambles there. We’ve also raced the Trofeo Kima and Glen Coe Skyline races in the last month, both of which are reasonably technical.
You and Konrad had your first child 10 months ago. How has that changed life in general and altered your running lives too?
Having a baby is simply the best thing, but there’s no denying the fact that it leaves very little free time. Nowadays I run before work (at night by most peoples’ standards!), Konrad runs after work, and at weekends we take turns to disappear on a longer adventure. We used to train together reasonably frequently, but that has obviously had to stop – Els 2900 will be a rare treat in that regard.
You won this year’s British Fell Running Championship so soon after having baby Rowan. How do you feel about this?
Surprised and rather proud! To be honest, I don’t think I did it in spectacular style (it definitely helped that several of my competitors got lost in the fog on the first race in Ireland!), but I feel like I’ve had to work really hard for every result this year, which makes it extra special. It would be fantastic if I could inspire other new mums to believe in themselves and return to the sports they love.
You are still breastfeeding your daughter. How have you coped with that alongside training and racing this season?
In the early days I always fed Rowan directly before going out running, and if I was going to be away for more than a couple of hours I would express beforehand and leave a bottle for her whilst I was out. Now that she is eating solids well I’m producing less milk, and we can both go for much longer without a feed. That said, Els 2900 could take up to 24 hours (which is the time limit), which would definitely be tough for me! I’m actually debating whether we should carry the breast pump, so that I can relieve myself if necessary…
What kit will you carry? Any room for treats not on the mandatory kit list?
In addition to the standard kit for a long off-road running race, we’ll have a rope, runners, carabiners, helmets, crampons and harnesses. The breast pump will probably be my treat!
Have you been to Andorra before or had chance to recce any of the course? What are your expectations?
No, but we’re led to believe the mountains are fantastic! A recce would have been ideal, but in the absence of that we’ve received lots of advice from friends who have raced Els 2900 in the past. In terms of expectations we’re chiefly aiming to finish (only 7 of 25 teams did so last year), and if possible to take the most exciting race lines, along the ridges.
Will baby Rowan be waiting for mum and dad at the finish?
Yes! Babicka (Czech for ‘grandma’ i.e. my mum) is travelling out with us to Andorra and will be hiking up to the Coma Pedrosa hut with Rowan whilst we race. The thought of seeing her at the finish will be the perfect incentive to keep us moving!
Kit to be used by Jasmin & Konrad
Both will wear ROCLITE 305 shoes (as seen in photo above), the perfect all-rounder for the various terrains the pair will encounter throughout the event. The ROCLITE 305 offers grip, comfort and protection for long mountain adventures and its renowned versatility means it can adapt to everything from mud to hard rock. Check out the colour options: MEN | WOMEN.
Jasmin and Konrad will also both wear/carry the lightweight STORMSHELL waterproof jacket (check out colour options for MEN | WOMEN and see video below) and use the 2-in-1 award-winning ALL TERRAIN PRO PACKS (which can be used as either a 15-litre bag or as a stripped-down race vest).