JASMIN Paris made history when she became the first woman to complete the Barkley marathons, one of the hardest ultra-marathons in the world.

Now, back in Scotland, Paris has said she is grateful for all the support she has received, and hopes her achievement inspires others to become more active.

Paris (below), a small-animals vet from Midlothian, completed the Barkley Marathons with just one minute 39 seconds to spare of the 60-hour cut off.

The National:  (Image: David Miller)

The course, at Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee, covers 100 miles involving a 60,000ft ascent – the equivalent of scaling Mount Everest twice.

Only around 20 people have ever made it to the end of the race within the allotted 60 hours during its 38-year history.

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No woman has ever completed the Barkley marathons. Lazarus Lake, the race’s designer, famously said that no woman would be able to finish the race.

Paris proved him wrong – but that wasn’t why she did it.

“I never really considered that what I could do as a woman was any different to what my brothers could do as men,” Paris told The National.

“Ultimately, my drive to do it was because I wanted to prove that I could do it, because I don’t really feel that I’m any different than a man.

“I had the same approach to it as any man that was excited by the challenge.”

Paris hoped her achievement would inspire others to get more active, regardless of their skill level or the sport they do.

“I’ve always been of the opinion that you give it your best shot and see what you’re capable of, rather than letting somebody else define what that is for you.

“You have to believe that the sky’s the limit.”

‘I was either going to get to the gate or collapse’

Paris made headlines after she was photographed collapsed on the floor, minutes after completing the race.

The National:  (Image: David Miller)

“It was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Paris said.

“Mainly, there was this overwhelming terror of not making it in time. There’s so many variables in the race, like the weather, so we were really lucky.

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“Everything came together, and I just knew that it was my moment, I really needed to give it everything.

“I’m quite good at digging deep, but this was a different level than I’ve had to dig to before.

“In my head, I was either going to get to the gate or I was going to collapse.”

The National:

For Paris, Scotland is the perfect training ground, especially over the winter period.

“Most of my training was in the dark, in bad weather. If you’re running in a snowstorm or sleet storm for eight hours up and down the same hill, that’s some pretty good mental training.”

One way Paris prepared for the race was by running for hours on the same hill, often with her dog.

“One morning I ran up Ben Ledi five times in a row. A few walkers were a bit surprised,” Paris said with a laugh.

“I always train with the dog, he’s wonderful company, but he doesn’t really get the point of hill reps that much. He’s always like, ‘Why don’t we just run up a different hill than this one?’”

The climate crisis is important

Paris said she wouldn’t do the Barkley again, primarily because of the environmental impact her journey there would have.

“I’m passionate about trying to reduce my carbon footprint,” Paris said.

“I knew that if I managed to pull [the race] off, I would have a huge platform to talk about the climate crisis.”

Paris co-founded the Green Runners group, which aims to inform and inspire the running community to make greener decisions.

She stepped away from being a sponsor for a shoe and clothing company, as she wanted to use her platform to talk about how runners can be more sustainable.

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“I didn’t like essentially acting as an advertisement for people to buy new kit when they didn’t necessarily need to,” Paris said.

Paris also said she wasn’t sure whether she would have “the same drive” to finish the race.

The National:  (Image: David Miller)

“The only reason I finished was that every time it got hard, and I felt sick, and I couldn’t eat, and it was painful, the only reason I kept going was because I believed I could do it.

“And I really wanted to do it. I had this real desire to prove that I could do it, and now I’m not sure that would be there.

“I think the likelihood is that I wouldn’t finish it if I went again.”

But that isn’t stopping Paris from competing in races closer to home.

“I’m looking forward to having some fun on the hills for a bit,” she said.

In May, Paris will be racing in the Scottish Islands Peaks Race, which sees a team of five compete in a mixture of running and sailing from Oban, ending up in Troon.

“Barkley was incredible, but it involved a fair bit of suffering on my part," Paris admitted.

"I think it’s good to balance that out, you need to do some events where you just want to whoop with joy and feel amazing.”