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Let’s remember that the first woman to win 268-mile ultra marathon did it while expressing breast milk


By Jennifer McShane
06th Oct 2020
Let’s remember that the first woman to win 268-mile ultra marathon did it while expressing breast milk

On National Breastfeeding Week we look back at the incredible achievement of Jasmin Paris last January 


British ultrarunner Jasmin Paris has become the first woman to win the gruelling 268-mile Montane Spine Race along the Pennine Way, setting a world record.

And it’s not just her performance that was extraordinary; even more so was that she shattered the course record by 12 hours – while also expressing breast milk for her daughter at aid stations as she did the route.

Paris, a champion runner, knocked a staggering 12 hours off the record for the Spine Race ultra-marathon. She became the first woman to win the race, which was first held in 2012. She won the race and smashed the record despite having to stop at every checkpoint to express milk for her 14-month-old daughter, Rowan, who recently recovered from two back-to-back viral infections.

“I kept seeing animals appearing out of every rock and kept forgetting what I was doing – hallucinations. Every so often I’d come to with a start.”

She finished the 268-mile route along the full Pennine Way in 83 hours, 12 minutes and 23 seconds, starting on Sunday morning and finishing on Wednesday night. She said the win was far from easy; she suffered hallucinations as she only slept when she absolutely had to.

“It is really tough. Two-thirds of the time it is dark and it is completely different from any race I’ve run before because it is non-stop,” she told BBC Breakfast of the race.

“You have the whole challenge of when to sleep and that becomes very tactical, and then you’re sleep-deprived. When I was on the final section I kept seeing animals appearing out of every rock and kept forgetting what I was doing – hallucinations. Every so often I’d come to with a start.”

She explained that husband met her at every aid station on the route so that she could use a breast pump to express milk for her 14-month-old daughter Rowan, who was still recovering after being ill. “She (Rowan) was very bemused to see me on the finish line and has been very clingy today as if she is thinking I might go away again,” Paris added.

Motherhood debate

Ultra-runner Sophie Power made headlines for the same thing as she was photographed at an aid station near the Italian ski resort of Courmayeur breastfeeding her three-month-old son, Cormac during a tough race.

“It has highlighted something that women feel really unable to talk about. There is this huge mother’s guilt that all the time you need to be 100% focused on your baby, and I’m saying that by not focusing on your own physical and mental health you can’t be the best mother. For me, personally, I need to be physically fit and have those mental breaks. Women really struggle to be open about saying that.”

 

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“And still it goes on. Because a conversation has been started which we should never allow to stop. That women have the same right to set ourselves goals, to dream and to achieve them.
And that does not change when we become mothers – it only burns stronger as we strive to show our daughters and sons what women can do.”


Main image via Runners World