On 2nd October, just two weeks after winning the Glen Coe Sykyline race, Jasmin Paris set a new women's record on the Paddy Buckley, running the classic Welsh round in a time of 18hrs 33mins to beat Nicky Spinks' 2013 record by 29 minutes. In the last six or so months she has broken records on all three of the UK's famous big rounds (Scotland's Ramsay Round 16:13 - an overall record; Lakeland's Bob Graham 15:24).
The following article has been reproduced with with kind permission of inov-8, for whom Jasmin Paris is an ambassador. Read more stories about Jasmin and other inov-8 ambassadors on the inov-8 blog.
"Three of the most memorable days of my life." That is how inspirational mountain, fell and ultra runner Jasmin Paris describes her record-breaking trio of runs over England's Bob Graham Round, Scotland's Ramsay Round and Wales' Paddy Buckley Round – all achieved within a truly phenomenal six-month period.
Record #1 – the Bob Graham Round
It started back in April when the 2015 British Fell Running champion crushed the women's record time for the Bob Graham by over two-and-a-half hours. The 32-year-old ran the iconic 66-mile circuit, which includes 27,000ft of ascent over 42 of England's highest fell summits, in 15 hours and 24 minutes. The previous record had been held by Nicky Spinks, who ran 18:06 in 2015. Jasmin's incredible time is the sixth fastest ever recorded, by man or woman. It's only 90 minutes outside Billy Bland's overall record of 13:53, set in 1982.
Shortly after her Bob Graham Round record-run, Jasmin said:
"It was a bit of a surprise. I set off on a 17:15 schedule, and thought I might be able to make some time up on that. But sub-16 hours was more of a daydream than a realistic target. Knowing the route well definitely helped. Not so much from a route-finding point of view (I had a fantastic team of supporters/navigators, including several local runners, who surprised me on the day with the brilliance of their lines), but because it helped mentally to know what was coming next."
Record #2 – the Ramsay Round
Two months later Jasmin went one better, setting a new overall record time for the Ramsay Round. She ran the 58-mile/28,500ft circuit of 24 Scottish mountain peaks, including Great Britain's highest, Ben Nevis, in an incredible time of 16 hours and 13 minutes. Jasmin not only smashed the women's record for the challenge but also beat the men's previous best time by 46 minutes. That previous record, of 16:59, had been set a year earlier by Jon Ascroft.
As with the Bob Graham and Paddy Buckley, the Ramsay Round can be run at any time the challenger wishes, but must be completed within 24 hours. For many strong mountain, fell and ultra runners, to get under 24 hours is tough enough. So when anyone is successful it is, quite rightly, regarded by the community as a big achievement. To run the times Jasmin did, particularly for the notoriously difficult Ramsay Round, left many in complete awe.
Shortly afterwards Jasmin, who is always incredibly modest and humble, said:
"I simply set off and ran as fast as I thought was maintainable. Jon (Ascroft) is a close friend, and we often run together, so I knew that beating his record was theoretically achievable. That said, I also knew I'd need to have a really good run to do so. I supported the last section of his 2015 Ramsay Round, and he wasn't hanging around! On the crossing the finish line I felt euphoric and exhausted. We sprayed some champagne, drank it, then went to the pub for burger and chips!"
An interlude for the UTMB & Extreme Skyrunning series!
With a new Bob Graham women's record and the overall Ramsay Round record in the bag, there was an obvious question. Would Jasmin attempt a Paddy Buckley in Wales and look to complete a stunning trio of Great Britain's '3 Big Rounds' in one year? The answer was yes, but only if she was still in good shape after a summer season jam-packed with high-profile skyrunning and ultra running races.
In typical Jasmin style she attacked the summer head-on, showing little fear for the courses or competition, while continuing to wear her trademark smile throughout. A 3rd place finish at the Skyrunning World Championships was followed by a superb 6th place in her first 100-mile race; the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB). Wins at theTromso Skyrace in Norway and Glen Coe Skyline in Scotland also landed her the Extreme Skyrunning world title.
Record #3 – the Paddy Buckley Round
With so much running already in her legs, the Paddy Buckley – a 61-mile route over 47 Snowdonia mountain peaks incorporating 28,000ft of ascent – was always likely to prove her biggest challenge of the year. However, such is her level of fitness, talent and determination that, as October dawned, it was of little surprise to hear that Jasmin had run the Paddy Buckley in a new women's record time of 18 hours and 33 minutes. She beat the previous best of 19:02 set by Nicky Spinks in 2013. Jasmin was 51 minutes outside the overall record of 17:42, held by Tim Higginbottom.
Jasmin says: "I started this year with the aim of completing the 3 Big Rounds, so I'm delighted to have succeeded. For me, the Paddy Buckley was definitely the hardest of the three."
"Firstly, I was tired before I even set off – my legs still felt weary from the Glen Coe Skyline two weeks previously and the UTMB three weeks before that. Secondly, although we had incredible weather on the day, the underfoot conditions were far from ideal. Jim Mann, who navigated me through the bogs on leg 3 (Capel to Nantmore), was forced to deviate from his standard optimal lines owing to the waterlogged ground we encountered there."
"Thirdly, unlike the Bob Graham and Ramsay Round which I'd reccied several times, I only knew around a third of the Paddy Buckley route. I think this made it harder mentally, especially when things got tough. Lastly, the daylight hours were obviously shorter so late in the season, and I had to run about 6 hours of the round in the dark. I was incredibly lucky to have such a phenomenal team, who not only navigated me, but also encouraged me and (force!) fed me throughout."
"I've had an incredible year of running in the mountains. The '3 Big Rounds' have given me three of the most memorable days of my life, solidified old friendships and formed many new ones. I look forward now to planning my next running adventure, perhaps after a little rest!"
"If I were to do any of the three rounds again in the future, I think it would be the Paddy Buckley. Partly because I think I could run it faster on fresh legs and on drier ground. Also because I think the route is so beautiful that it deserves to be appreciated more than I was capable of doing… in my exhausted state!"
Record #4 – fastest cumulative time for the '3 Big Rounds'
When added together, Jasmin's three times (15:24 for the Bob Graham, 16:13 for the Ramsay Round and 18:33 for the Paddy Buckley) total up to 50:10. She is now the holder of the fastest cumulative time for Great Britain's '3 Big Rounds'. Next best is Chris Near with 56:03.
Nicky Spinks – who has watched Jasmin take all three of her previous women's records for the Bob Graham, Ramsay Round and Paddy Buckley – said:
"I'm really pleased for my friend, Jasmin. What she has achieved is fantastic. I wasn't able to help in person on her Paddy Buckley as I was racing at the Hodgson Brothers Mountain Relay but I was constantly on my phone trying to get news about how she was getting on."
"Helene Whitaker (nee Diamantides) did similar in 1989 when she ran the three big rounds in one year. But for Jasmin to do that and fit in everything else like the UTMB and the skyrunning races is incredible."
The 49-year-old Nicky, who this year became the fastest person to run a Double Bob Graham and then placed 12th at UTMB, added:
"Jasmin is leading the way and inspiring women to give off-road running a go. She has shown that women can compete with men. I have never been fast enough to do so but she is pushing boundaries in terms of what women can achieve in fell and mountain running."
The best shoes for breaking mountain and fell running challenges?
Jasmin Paris broke the Bob Graham, Ramsay Round and Paddy Buckley records wearing inov-8 Mudclaw running shoes. An outsole packed with triangular, 8mm deep studs claw into soft and muddy terrain, delivering the ultimate in grip and give the runner confidence to tackle any slope, no matter how steep the gradient. For a slightly wider fit but with the same level of outstanding grip, check out the new X-Claw 275. Or, if you want a lighter running shoe, again with the same level of outstanding grip, see our -XTalon range, including the new X-Talon 225. There's more details about the X-Talon range in the video below.