Jasmin Paris Becomes First Woman Ever To Complete Barkley Marathons

British ultrarunner Jasmin Paris became the first woman ever to complete the notorious Barkley Marathons on Friday, finishing the route with just 99 seconds to spare under the race’s 60-hour time limit.

Crossing the finish line in Tennessee’s Frozen Head State Park, she joined Ihor Verys of Ukraine (currently residing in Canada), John Kelly of the United States, Jared Campbell of the United States, and Greig Hamilton of New Zealand in completing the 2024 race.

Verys was the overall winner of this year’s Barkley Marathons, completing in 58 hours, 44 minutes, and 59 seconds and becoming the race’s first Canadian finisher. It was his first time competing at the event. Kelly and Campbell had both completed multiple Barkleys prior to 2024 (three and four, respectively), while Hamilton, now officially the first New Zealander to finish, had participated in the Marathons previously but had not finished until this year.

This historic season brings the total number of Barkley completions to a mere 21 (spread among 17 individuals) over the race’s 38-year history. Notably, no one at all successfully completed the full race between 2017 and 2023.

Known as “the race that eats its young,” the Barkley Marathons is famous for its punishing terrain. The full race is roughly 100 miles in length, consisting of five 20(ish)-mile loops, totalling some 64,000 feet of elevation gain, around Frozen Head State Park. There are no aid stations and the route is unmarked, requiring contestants to navigate via map and compass.

The rules are eclectic: the start is signified by the lighting of a “ceremonial cigarette,” and runners must locate a series of books hidden along each loop and retrieve the pages corresponding to their race number as proof of completion. It is considered by many to be the world’s most difficult footrace.

Just getting to the starting line at the Barkley Marathons is an achievement, to say nothing of completing a race with a 99 percent dropout rate. Race founder Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell invites some 40 athletes to participate each year, selecting them through a secretive process.

Although women have been admitted to the race before — in smaller numbers than men, but admitted nonetheless — Cantrell had said in the past that he did not believe a woman could complete the race based on the average disparity between women’s and men’s finishing times in other ultramarathon events.

Paris, 40, brought the total number of finishers this year to a record 5. The accomplished athlete, veterinarian, and mother of two is also known for winning the 268-mile Montane Spine Race on the UK’s Pennine Way in 2019, besting all male and female competitors to become the first female winner of that event.

She had competed in the Barkley Marathons before: in the 2023 race, she made history by becoming only the second female to start the fourth loop and the fourth to complete the first three loops twice (she also completed the first three in 2022).

Paris thanked her supporters in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “Thanks so much for the support everyone! #BM100 was incredible, conditions couldn’t have been better, and I was lucky to share miles on the trail with wonderful people.”

Featured image: (left to right) Greig Hamilton, Jared Campbell, Ihor Verys, Jasmin Paris, and John Kelly. via

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