On the 16th January 2019, inov-8 ambassador Jasmin Paris made history by becoming the first-ever woman to win the Spine Race outright, obliterating the overall course record in the process.
The new mum-of-one’s 83-hour winter run across 268 miles of remote UK mountain trails, whilst still expressing milk at checkpoints, captured the hearts and minds of people the world over. Her story reached far wider than the niche ultra-running community and continues to inspire runners and non-runners alike.
Jasmin has become a role model and an international symbol of women’s empowerment, while at the same time proving that gender barriers are there to be smashed.
We caught up with the modest 35-year-old sportswoman and animal vet to find out how she is coping with the international media attention, get her thoughts on the race and ask… ‘Do you think you could go back and run it even quicker?’
Q1. How do you sum up your Spine race experience?
Intense, tough, immensely rewarding.
Q2. How have you found the media frenzy that’s followed?
The response has been incredibly positive, and I’ve been amazed at how many people have written to say they’ve been inspired. It feels like a lot of good discussion has come out of it, in terms of women in sport, motherhood, breastfeeding, and general inspiration. That’s the only reason I’ve agreed to do so many interviews over the past few days, from a personal point of view I’ve never had ambitions to be a celebrity.
Q3. How is the body and mind recovering? Been out for a run yet?
Ha ha, no not yet, but I’ll probably try to at the end of this week. My body feels pretty good, and the tendonitis I had in my right foot has almost gone. I am still waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, and panicking that I need to get moving, but I expect that too will pass soon!
Q4. If you had to pick one thing from the experience that will live forever in your memory, what would that be?
Probably the last day in the Cheviots, which was stunning. One of those mountain days that you remember for the rest of your life. Sunshine, clear blue sky, and later thousands of stars. It is pretty remote towards the end there, and very beautiful.
Q5. What was inside the pack and how heavy was it?
My pack weighed 5.5kg at the start, which included 0.5l of water and 3000kcal of food. The remainder was the equipment on the mandatory kit list, which included a sleeping bag, bivvy bag, roll-mat, cooking equipment, spare base layers, and warm clothes (in my case the inov-8 polartec alpha jacket).
Q6. Do you want your record time to stand as the ‘overall record’ or ‘women’s record’?
I think I’m just enjoying the fact that it’s currently both!
Q7. Your shoes – did you wear the same pair throughout and how did they help you?
Yes, I wore one pair of ROCLITE 275 G-Grip shoes for the whole race. I had a spare pair half a size bigger in my drop bag, in case my feet swelled up, as I’d heard this happens fairly commonly to people during the race. In the event my feet didn’t swell up until I finished, probably because I hardly stopped during the race! The shoes worked very well for me, giving good grip on the wet slabs and mud, whilst also providing good cushioning.
Q8. Was Rowan glad to have her mummy back?
Yes, now that I’ve taken my hat off, had a shower, and look like mummy again she is very happy to have me back. She wasn’t so sure when I picked her up at the finish line though!
Q9. What was the toughest moment during the Spine Race?
Oddly enough I found the first night the hardest. I was already feeling tired after a day of running into a strong head wind and rain, and I knew we still had over 200 miles to go before I would see my daughter and husband again.
Q10. If you could change one thing from your experience, what would it be?
I have no regrets about my race, I had an incredible experience from start to finish. Looking back, the only thing that makes me a little sad is that Eugeni (whom Jasmin had raced closely against during the race before making her break) had to drop out so close to the end with hypothermia. I’m very thankful for the fantastic team who brought him down safely to the finish.
Q11. What would be your best piece of advice to someone racing the Spine Race for the first time?
Thanks to the fantastic people at the checkpoints the race has a wonderful feel to it, everyone there wants you to make it to the end. So just keep eating, keep moving and try to enjoy the experience.
Q12. You wore the PROTEC-SHELL jacket for much of the race. What did you like about it?
I really like this jacket. It feels much sturdier than my other running waterproofs, and performs on a level with a quality mountain jacket, but is still really light to carry.
Q13. What’s else do you have planned for 2019?
I’m going to run the Petite Trotte a Leon in August as a team with my husband Konrad. It’s another non-stop race, slightly shorter than the Spine, but with double the ascent. It takes place in August, so I’m looking forward to running a lot more of it in daylight, and enjoying the views of the Mont Blanc massif as we run. I also have some non racing running plans for the year, but I’m keeping those to myself for now.
Q14. And, do you think you could go back to the Spine Race another year and do it even quicker?
It would depend on the weather. This year the conditions were favourable for a fast time, with no snow and even a reasonable amount of sunshine to balance out the spells of rain and wind. The only thing which could have made conditions faster would have been a hard frost to firm up the bogs. If the conditions all aligned like that, it’s possible I could run it faster. But I don’t know that I’ll go back. I had pretty much the perfect race, and have no regrets or misgivings. I gave it everything, had an amazing time, and achieved more than I could possibly have hoped for.