Jasmin Paris is a bad-ass fell runner who decided to give running 100 miles a shot at the 2016 UTMB, and she had a successful first outing in finishing sixth. In the following interview, Jasmin talks about her fell-running background, what motivated her to run 100 miles, how she dealt with the heat and humidity, and her life outside of running.
For more on the race, read our 2016 UTMB results article.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Jasmin Paris Post-2016 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here in Chamonix, France. It’s Sunday. Yesterday was the 2016 UTMB. I’m with women’s sixth-place finisher, Jasmin Paris. Hi.
Jasmin Paris: Hi.
iRunFar: It’s great to meet you. I’m just meeting you the first time. Congratulations on your finish yesterday. How are you feeling right now?
Paris: Not too bad actually. I’m a little bit stiff going up and down stairs which is a challenge.
iRunFar: Yeah, I got to watch you take the stairs sideways a few minutes ago. This is your first 100 miler, but you’re not a stranger to really difficult events.
Paris: Yeah, I’m used to slightly different terrain in addition. I’ve run this year the Ramsey Round and the Bob Graham Round which are classic long-distance challenges in the U.K.
iRunFar: You didn’t just ‘run’ them, you annihilated the records on them. Let’s just be honest here.
Paris: Yeah, I did break the records, yeah. They’re both on fell terrain, so you’re not really running on paths and you’re on rough terrain. The UTMB was really different for me. There are quite a lot of, in comparison, track and there’s some road in the UTMB as well which I don’t like at all.
iRunFar: How did you feel about that 8k road opener?
Paris: I didn’t enjoy it at all though I was chatting to Damian Hall who had an amazing run to finish 19th. He took my mind off that first road, so that was good.
iRunFar: You’re from the Peak District. You now live outside of Edinburgh where you’re going to school. You’re a rocky, off-trail terrain specialist. Coming to the buffed out Trail du Mont Blanc track was kind of like going on a Sunday stroll? Is that what you’d liken it to?
Paris: It didn’t feel like a Sunday stroll yesterday. It was just quite different compared to Scotland. It was really hot during the day. Even at night I was too hot. People were putting waterproofs on at night, and I was too hot.
iRunFar: You were too hot at night also?
Paris: Yes, yes. I thought, I can’t believe they’re putting on another layer. When it actually finished in a thunderstorm which was very impressive, a bit scary, but when it actually started raining, that was the best I felt the whole time.
iRunFar: “This is familiar.”
Paris: Yes, all that wet rock—I was off. I left them all behind. It was great.
iRunFar: Fantastic. 100 miles, your first shot at it—how do you feel about this distance? It’s sort of one of those distances that’s becoming ‘the distance’ for trail ultrarunners.
Paris: The longest distance I’ve done before is about 100k. I definitely got to 80k and thought I could do another 20k, but that’s all I wanted to do. So the thought then of running on top of that another 70k wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I think you do have to push it to another level. I’m not sure I paced it as well as I could have done. Maybe I should have held something back at the start so I wouldn’t have struggled at the end.
iRunFar: Do you feel like you went out too hard?
Paris: It’s hard to say, but possibly I should have… I felt a bit rough during the day, but then again it was so hot as well. I was using every source I could to cool down during the day.
iRunFar: It’s not an unfamiliar feeling that you felt. The heat and humidity yesterday was difficult for a lot of people, but I imagine coming from your climate, it was really impactful on your day.
Paris: Definitely so.
iRunFar: What did you do in terms of… yeah, you drank as much water as you could, but what else did you do to manage yourself with the weather?
Paris: I did actually have a swim at one point during the race.
iRunFar: Where did you swim?
Paris: I think it’s Champex-Lac checkpoint.
iRunFar: So 120k into the UTMB, you jumped into that lake?
Paris: Yeah. I left the checkpoint and set off around the lake. I just put my bag on the side and jumped in fully clothed, shoes included.
iRunFar: Just as background, Champex-Lac is like this local recreation destination. There were probably people fishing and maybe some picnickers.
Paris: People were cheering. People took it well. They seemed quite enthusiastic about the prospect of me jumping in.
iRunFar: I love it. Anything else you did to try to manage yourself?
Paris: I essentially got in most of the rivers that I passed and also the water fountains. I’d just put the top of my body in as deep as I could.
iRunFar: I think our photographer actually captured a picture of you sticking your face in a water spout. It’s a great shot. You look relieved. Outside of running, how do you spend your time? This is our first time meeting and our first interview with you on iRunFar. Who is Jasmin Paris?
Paris: I’m a vet (veterinarian). I’m a small-animal vet. I’m a specialist as I just do internal medicine. Currently I’m doing a PhD actually, so I’ve not been doing clinical work for a few years. I’m studying acute myeloid leukemia. I have a normal full work life and running fits in around that.
iRunFar: I bet you actually have a more than full-time work life.
Paris: Yeah, it’s not a normal nine-to-five job that I do.
iRunFar: How do you… you’re coming up in the fell running and now the trail ultrarunning world with such force? How do you fit in the training that you’re doing for the race?
Paris: Essentially I think the fact is I love it so much being outside in the hills that I make it fit in. I think sometimes if I didn’t love it so much, I wouldn’t… I don’t have a television and essentially all I do when I’m not at work is, we eat, we sleep, and we run. I probably don’t do as many hours as most… You probably talk to a lot of ultrarunners, and I probably don’t train as many hours as them. It’s hard fitting it in during the week, but weekends we get out to the hills.
iRunFar: And do big long days?
iRunFar: Did you tailor your training at all or do anything specific in your preparation for UTMB?
Paris: No. This year I’ve concentrated on longer things. So I did those two rounds, the Bob Graham Round and the Ramsey Round, and then five weeks ago I ran the Buff Epic Trail which is a Skyrunning Ultra [Division] Championships. Then three weeks ago I ran Tromso which is a Skyrunning Extreme [Division] Race. I guess I’ve kept relatively long races in preparation for the challenge, but I didn’t do anything specific to UTMB, no.
iRunFar: You did your regular background training and then did longer and longer challenges?
Paris: Yes, and I would say the background training even dropped off because if you’re racing every two or three weeks, then you spend a few days recovering and then you taper, so the recovery almost turns into a taper.
iRunFar: A very talented off-trail fell runner, what brings you to UTMB in the first place? Why are you here?
Paris: Several reasons: one of them is I guess I like to challenge myself. The UTMB was so out of my comfort zone, it was a challenge to do a 100 miler. Probably or certainly one of the most well-known 100 milers in the world, probably if you’re going to do one, UTMB is a decent one to do.
iRunFar: Go big or go home.
Paris: Yeah, there were other reasons as well. Some friends had told me about it and had especially told me about the atmosphere that you get. They were spot on with that. It’s true that the atmosphere is incredible. All the families in the middle of the night around the campfires, the fires at Contamines as you start on the stony track…
iRunFar: The big bonfire at Notre Dame de la Gorge.
Paris: Yeah, yeah. That first town we ran through, I almost felt like I was finishing the race. The applause was so great…
iRunFar: “We’re 20k in!”
Paris: I’ve run 20k. I’ve not run 170k yet. The atmosphere was incredible. It was a shame I finished in the thunderstorm last night. Even in the thunderstorm there were people in Chamonix in rain coats cheering us in.
iRunFar: People out there.
Paris: Today again, the support for the final runners was incredible. That was kind of part of it. Then another reason actually is that me and my husband and a friend want to run the PTL (Petit Trotte a Leon), so the UTMB is our ticket. It’s part of this UTMB week, but it’s the do-it-yourself-out-there-on-the-mountains-for-a-few-days style.
iRunFar: It kind of seems more Jasmin Paris style?
Paris: Yeah, I would say probably more the fell-runner type of race to do.
iRunFar: It’s unmarked where you have to navigate yourself… more technical terrain…
Paris: Yeah, you have to navigate… exactly, yeah. If you look at the ascent, it’s 26,000 meters; so it’s quite a lot. I think they take you up on more technical terrain and wilder places.
Paris: I don’t think you really see roads.
iRunFar: Fantastic. Great to meet you. Congratulations on your sixth-place finish. We look forwards to seeing you on the PTL round perhaps next year.
Paris: Thank you. Yes.
iRunFar: Congrats again.
Paris: Thanks very much.