Have you ever heard of Jasmin Paris? Let me fill you in - Veterinary Practice
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InFocus

Have you ever heard of Jasmin Paris? Let me fill you in

In a world seemingly dominated by bad news these days, let’s take some time to celebrate the achievements of a fellow vet and be inspired to achieve something better for ourselves

Readers may remember that a few months ago I wrote about how pushing ourselves way beyond our comfort zone in our leisure time may make work seem less stressful, relatively speaking.

FIGURE (1) Jasmin at the 2022 Barkley Marathons. Photo credit: Howie Stern / inov-8

This month, I want to dedicate my allotted space in your reading schedule to someone who embodies this like no other vet I can think of. Her achievements are such that for those of us struggling to get through a working week and keep on top of the washing, she is almost unbelievable. She is a real person though, and her achievements are all true, even if they are now truly approaching legendary status. So, if you have never heard of the veterinary surgeon Jasmin Paris, let me fill you in on just a couple of her recent achievements. The most recent of these is in the Barkley Marathons where she achieved the only female “Fun Run” finish in the last 10 years, and only the third since the race began in 1986.

A brief lesson on the Barkley Marathons (BM) is needed to get the full picture of what Jasmin has achieved. The BM is a race conceived by a semi-mythical ultrarunner known as “Lazarus Lake” (real name Gary Cantrell). It is held each year in the USA in Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee. In the park was a prison from which there was an escape in the 1970s. The escapee ran for around 54 hours and was later found 12 miles from the prison. Lazarus joked that he could do better – maybe a hundred miles – and so went on to create the BM to see if anyone could do 100 miles in that time. So, the full course is about 100 miles and is limited to a 60-hour period.

Since the first race in 1986, only 15 people have ever completed the full 100 mile-ish course. Typically, the course has about 25,000 feet of climbing and is mainly covered in brambles and thick forest. There are no checkpoints, but books are hidden in the undergrowth and to prove you have done the full course you tear a page from the book corresponding to your race number and present these to Laz as proof of completing each loop. The three-loop course (about 60 miles with a 40-hour time limit) is known as “the Fun Run” and some years is also never finished.

FIGURE (2) Jasmin at the 2022 Barkley Marathons. Photo credit: Howie Stern / inov-8

This year, no one finished the full race; the nearest contender was timed out after four loops. He was so disorientated he was found in a nearby town asking directions from a dustbin he thought was a person. The local sheriff took him back to Laz who disqualified him.

For a good idea of what the Barkley Marathons are about, there is a great free documentary on YouTube called “Where dreams go to die – Gary Robbins and the Barkley Marathons”. He finished five loops but was timed out and disqualified. He was six seconds over the 60-hour cut-off.

That gives a small flavour of what Jasmin achieved this year.

FIGURE (3) Jasmin at the 2022 Barkley Marathons. Photo credit: Howie Stern / inov-8

In 2019, she won the Spine Race. She didn’t just win it as the first woman, she outright won it and still holds the overall course record. Just to make it even more impressive, she was expressing milk for her baby at the checkpoints. If you haven’t heard of the Spine Race, you might have heard of the Pennine Way? The race is basically that, the whole thing from Derbyshire to Scotland – 268 miles of hills. The typical time to cover this on foot is three weeks. Jasmin Paris did it in 83 hours non-stop.

What has all this ultramarathon trivia got to do with me and being a vet, you may ask? Well, primarily Jasmin is one of us, so you should know about her. Also, it puts into perspective what we all can achieve. We may not be up to running one of the nation’s longest footpaths in one go, or a Barkley Fun Run, but we can all do much more than we think. The human body and mind have much greater reserves than we ever use.

Lastly, there is so much bad news around right now. I could write about Ukraine, the evacuation of people and their pets. I could discuss the challenges we all face from the workforce crisis. Brexit is always a good go-to for an opinion column.

But I think right now we need some inspiration and a good news story. We need someone to make us think we can achieve something better for ourselves. So, whatever your version of a “fun run” may be, go out and run it.

We need some inspiration and a good news story. We need someone to make us think we can achieve something better for ourselves. So, whatever your version of a “fun run” may be, go out and run it

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