Last Saturday (23rd April), Scottish fell runner Jasmin Paris set a new women’s Bob Graham record, breaking the previous time by over two and a half hours.
The 32-year-old vet from Edinburgh completed the 66-mile circuit over 42 of England's highest summits in an astounding 15 hours and 24 minutes, smashing the previous 18:06 record held by Nicky Spinks since last year. Paris' incredible feat of endurance was also just 90 minutes outside the men’s 13:53 record, held by Billy Bland since 1982.
Currently taking time out from clinical work to do a PhD at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine, we spoke to Paris about training regimes, the magic of fell running and the importance of a good support crew.
How long have you been fell running? And what got you into it?
I started running after leaving university, in 2008. I’ve always loved walking in the hillls/mountains (my parents took us wild camping and trecking from an early age, and I continued the hobby at University, through the Open Air Club), and so moving on to running across them was a natural transition. It also meant I was able to get out into the hills on a daily basis, despite a busy work life. In terms of who got me into it, a colleague at work (Richard Patton) suggested that I might enjoy one of the local fell races (Wormstones, Glossop), so I went along. I only had road trainers to wear, and spent most of the descents on my bottom, but I had a great time and after that I was hooked!
Where is your all-time favourite place to run?
That’s a really tough question, and one I will struggle to answer. Special places I can list include the mountains around Wasdale (Lake District) and the Paps of Jura, but there are so many more!
Did you set out to deliberately break the Bob Graham Round record? And have you run it or any of the route before?
I set out to run it as fast as I could, and I thought that I would probably break the record in doing so, providing things went to plan. Nevertheless, the final time was still a real surprise.
I ran a minimally supported winter Bob Graham with my fiancé Konrad Rawlik in February this year, and then ran the route again over two days in March, so I had a good idea of what to expect.
How long have you been training? And did you make any adjustments to your regime for the attempt?
I didn’t actually make any changes in my training. I am pretty relaxed about what I do anyway, I just run for fun. I tend to get out into the hills at home on a daily basis for 60-90 minutes, and go for longer runs at the weekend, in addition to a bit of swimming and cross training.
Who supported you on the day?
I had three to four pacers/navigators on each leg, in addition to fantastic road support, and I am hugely thankful to them all. I think two people deserve a special mention – my mum, who drove to every support point (on both of my recent BGRs) and Konrad, my fiancé, who supported me through all of the planning, as well as running a large part of it with me on the day.
Thanks to Alena Vencovska (mum), Konrad Rawlik, Dave Ward, Stephen Pyke, Shane Ohly, Alex McVey, Neil Talbot, Julien Minshull, Jim Mann, Iain Whiteside, Jon Gay, John Helme, Ben Abdelnoor, Jon Ascroft, Bill Williamson, Antony Meanwell, Tim Budd, Andy Oliver, Jo Zakrzewski, Rhys Findlay-Robinson, Stephen Birkenshaw and family, Zoe Barton, Alan Schofield, Lynne Taylor and Jess the dog.
There were also a few people that came out to support and missed me because I was up on schedule, so they definitely deserve a mention too! Including Paul Cornforth, Scoffer, Lins Palmer, John Hewitt and Sabrina Verjee.
What do you love most about fell running?
The freedom, the mountains, and the people.
What were the most challenging aspects of the run?
I struggled most in the latter stages of leg three and the first half of leg four. I was tiring by then, but I still had a long way to go. I was also feeling sick, and struggling to eat, which is most uncharacteristic for me!
What did you eat/drink during the run?
Not very much! I am usually really good at eating on long runs, and I remember that our winter BGR I was still munching away on solid food in the final stages. This time however, I struggled to eat much after leg three (I was feeling sick), and the only thing that kept me going was the combination of sweets and Pepsi – hardly ideal nutrition! In the early stages of the day I ate a mixture of oat bars, dried fruit/nuts, sandwiches, and salty crisps.
What did you wear on your feet?
Inov8 Mudclaw 300s – my shoe of choice for the UK fells.
How did you celebrate your achievements?
We all went straight to the pub in Keswick, and I sat there smiling rather vacantly, if I remember correctly! We did open a bottle of bubbly the next evening, by which time I was in a better state to appreciate it...
What's next on the running agenda?
I am planning to run some of the longer skyraces this year (the Glencoe Skyline, Tromso, the Buff Epic Trail race, the Mourne Skyline) and also have an entry for the UTMB. Hopefully I’ll squeeze in my favourite fell races too, which are Jura and Wasdale.