Last January, Jasmin Paris became the first woman to win Britain’s grueling 268-mile Montane Spine Race, an ultramarathon that starts in rural northern England and ends in the Scottish Borders. What makes her feat more remarkable is that the 35-year-old smashed the course record, set by a male runner, by 12 hours – while stopping to pump breast milk for her 14-month old at aid stations along the route. Carrying her own gear and battling cold weather and hallucinations from extreme fatigue, Paris finished the race in 83 hours and 12 minutes, sleeping only three hours.
To fit her training for the Spine Race in around her job and family life, Paris had to get up at 4 am each day, when she would head out for runs in the hills around her home near Edinburgh, while her family was still in bed. She also went on plenty of long hikes with her baby. “My coach told me to get a weight vest to practice running with a backpack,” she says. “But I thought, I have a baby, I’ll take her. It was decent training.”
Paris says the hardest part was the first 24 hours. “It’s weird, but I missed my family most then, and I still had so far to go.” She says by the end she was completely absorbed in the race, trying to stay ahead of her rivals, and the thought of seeing her daughter again was spurring her on. “It was a life-affirming experience.”
Let us now praise the sports moms. Not only the rare ones like Jasmin. All of them: the brave ones, the single ones, the passionate ones, the struggling ones, the driven ones. They affirm life! They are raising millions of children for us and they deserve all the support we can give.