Jasmin Paris: I ran 'toughest race' to inspire women worldwide

The first female runner to complete one of the world's toughest races has said she did it for "women worldwide".

Jasmin Paris is one of only 20 people to have finished the Barkley Marathons in Tennessee, USA, since it was extended to 100 miles in 1989.

She crossed the finish line on Friday with 99 seconds to spare before the 60-hour cut-off.

Jasmin, from Midlothian, Scotland, said she wanted to test the limits of what she was capable of and inspire others.

The annual race at Frozen Head State Park involves five loops of roughly 20 miles (32km), with 60,000 ft (18,000m) of ascents and descents - twice the height of Mount Everest from sea level.

Jasmin Paris with her father Jeff (left) and husband Konrad (right)
Jasmin arrived back in Edinburgh on Monday and was greeted by her father Jeff (left) and husband Konrad (right)
Jasmin Paris
Jasmin Paris, 40, slumped to the ground at the finish line after running for 59hrs 58mins and 21 seconds

The 40-year-old told BBC News how she realised she had just minutes to spare to make the allotted 60-hour completion time as she neared the finish line.

"I only had like a few minutes to get up that hill. So I ended up sprinting at the end of the end of 60 hours of burning through the forest, which felt really hard," she said.

Her arms and legs are covered in scratches from the brambles she had to push through on the route, very little of which is on a path.

"Brambles would get you and it was like having somebody cut you and that would happen loop after loop and it was like doing it back over the same scars," she said.

Jasmin Paris
Jasmin's arms are covered in scratches from running through brambles

Jasmin slumped to the ground as she crossed the finish line, and said she felt "overwhelming relief" that it was finally over.

But she said completing such a challenge was "mind-opening" and inspires you with confidence for your whole life.

"I did it for me and I'm super happy that I achieved what I set out to do after the three years of trying", Jasmin explained.

"But I'm glad that I kind of did it for women worldwide as well - not just runners - but any woman that wants to take on a challenge and maybe doesn't have the confidence.

"The idea that I might have inspired them to believe in themselves… that's huge, especially all the young girls - you know how hard it is to keep young girls in sports."

The Barkley course was the brainchild of Gary "Lazarus Lake" Cantrell and Karl Henn, after they heard about a famous escape nearby Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary

James Earl Ray, the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr, eluded capture for more than 50 hours, but only travelled about 12 miles (19 km).

Mr Cantrell is said to have commented he could have run 100 miles in the time.

Jasmin Paris
Jasmin having a drink during the race

Jasmin, who was born in Hadfield in Derbyshire, said the isolation of the race was one of the biggest challenges.

"You're totally on your own out there and most races will have checkpoints where they have, you know, some volunteers or checkpoint staff to feed you and give you a bit of a cheer and send you on your way. But this is not like that at all."

With her history-making race completed, Jasmin already has her sights set on her next challenge, the Scottish Islands Peaks Race on 17 May, followed by the Tor des Géants in Italy in September.

Now enjoying some much-deserved rest, she said: "I'm really looking forward to getting back to see the kids tomorrow and pick them up from school and nursery and give them a really big hug."