Vet becomes first woman to finish extreme race

Dr Jasmin Paris, a vet at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, has become the first woman to complete the Barkley Marathons, one of the world’s toughest sporting challenges.

Jasmin Paris slumped at Barkley Marathons finish line with photographers and onlookers in the background
Jasmin Paris at Barkley Marathons finish line 2024

The ultra-marathon runner cemented her place in the history books by finishing the so-called ‘Race that eats its young’ in the scheduled 60 hours, with a mere 99 seconds to spare. She was one of only five finishers this year.


The 100-mile plus course in Tennessee, US, is renowned by extreme runners for being ‘near-impossible’ to complete, with runners enduring sleepless nights across bush-laden hillside in the hope of making it to the end.

Barkley is a famously quirky race, beginning when the race director lights a cigarette. Scaling its undulating ascents in the five-loop challenge is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest twice.

Complicated trails

The complicated and unwieldy route – inspired by the prison-break of Martin Luther King Jnr’s assassin in 1977 – is broken up into five loops, each of approximately 20 miles in length.

At the end of each loop, runners must tear a page out of a paperback book at race stations to prove that they have completed the stage.

Jasmin Paris with a cat

Elite achievement

Dr Paris' achievements as an elite ultra-marathon runner have been well-documented, including summiting a record-breaking 29 Munros – Scottish mountains over 3000 feet – within 24 hours.

In 2019, she ran the 268 mile Spine Race across the Pennine Way in just over 83 hours, famously pausing to express breast milk for her baby, before going on to win the grueling challenge, slicing 12 hours off the record time.

She told Sunday’s BBC Breakfast by text message that she was “overjoyed” to have finished the race. “Those final moments have redefined for me what I am capable of," she said.

It is an honour to call Jasmin a colleague and we were all delighted to hear the news from the Barkley Marathons. Everyone at the University sends their huge congratulations to Jasmin. She is truly an exceptional sportsperson and is an inspiration to our whole University community.

Professor Peter MathiesonPrincipal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh

Photography credit: