Woman completes Barkley Marathons for 1st time

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British ultrarunner Jasmin Paris became the first woman ever to finish the Barkley Marathons on Friday, completing one of the most challenging ultramarathons in the world with 99 seconds to spare in the 60-hour cut-off.

Paris was one of five ultrarunners to complete the annual race — covering around 100 miles — held in Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee, that has seen no finishers in more than half the races in its nearly four-decade history.

Paris, who finished the race in 59 hours, 58 minutes, 21 seconds, had completed the race’s “fun run” version of around 60 miles in 2022.

The Barkley Marathons, created by Gary Cantrell and Karl Henn in 1986, was inspired by the escape of James Earl Ray, the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr., who ran about 12 miles in 54½ hours from a nearby prison in 1977.

The ultramarathon was extended from 55 to 100 miles in 1989. Its current course consists of five loops of approximately 20 miles each around the park with a climb and descent of 54,200 feet.

There are no aid stations on the course, except water at two places.

Mark Williams became the first runner to finish the race within its 60-hour cut-off time in 1995. A total of 20 people have finished the race, with Jared Campbell, who was the third finisher this year, doing it a record four times.

Brett Maune holds the record for the fastest finish with a time of in 52:03:08 in 2012. This year’s winner, Canada-based Ukrainian Ihor Varys, clocked 58:44:59.

Paris, 40, a veterinarian scientist in Edinburgh and a mother of two, previously broke the course record for the Montane Spine Race in Northern England by 12 hours in 2019.

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