When I left you last week it was in the midst of exciting times. Jasmin Paris was continuing to extend her lead in the Spine Race and it was becoming clear that unless something dramatic was to happen (which to be fair is not unlikely during an event like the spine race) she was onto something big. For most of Wednesday I was glued to one screen or the other endlessly willing on the tracker of number 195. Towards the end of the day I was starting to wonder why none of the big media channels were picking up on what Paris was about to achieve out on the Pennine fells and so it seems was the rest of the ultra trail nerd community, together we hollered at BBC 5 live, tagged the big news papers and tweeted to the digital platforms.
By the time Jasmin touched the wall of the Border Hotel in Kirk Yetholm to mark the end of her incredible recordbreaking 268 mile journey the world outside of ultra running was slowly waking up to what was going on behind the hashtag #britainsmostbrutal. Before I knew if the winner and new record holder of the legendary Spine Race was on BBC 5 live, then on BBC breakfast, then on Womans Hour and eventually even the newspapers caught the buzz.
At first I felt exhilarated, finally someone was giving air time to my favourite sport but soon i started to find myself becoming infuriated. The headlines and interviews were all focusing on the fact that Jasmin is a mother to a one year old child and as the weaning had not gone to plan had to express milk at the early checkpoints. No one mentioned her history of podium positions in prestigious international races and on the sky running series. Not a single journalist had fact checked enough to ask her about how she broke 3 FKT on the rounds in a year. They did however ALL ask how she managed to be mum to a 1 year old and train for a 268 mile race. I am a mother and as much as I love seeing other inspiring breeders combining parenthood with competitive sport in media I wish that some of the focus could be on the athlete in the picture and not the mother.
Maybe it is the patriarchy's way to deal with a woman achieving something incredible. Lets humanise this record crushing runner by framing her as an earthly mother (see there is some pure womanhood left in her PHEW) instead of a kick ass athlete. I also wish that it didn't take something extreme like expressing milk during a 3 day record breaking race to give female athletes their share of the sports media. I am hoping that Jasmins legendary performance has opened a path for more coverage of female sports and if it hasn't then well there's always your Gill and Cajsa to lead the revolution!
Okay, okay back to the bench and less aggravated reports from the last weeks trail shenanigans.
SPINE RACE 268 miles / who can count the elevation of this monster, not me, nor the race organisers it seems lets guess with a low figure of 12000.
By now I trust that you all know who won and how she did it (by taking an OA win and the course record with 12 hours in 83:12 in case you didn't). I am still in complete awe and can not wait to see how the rest of Jasmin Paris running year unfolds but what happened behind her apart from an entire field of men being crushed?
Well, if you found the story of Jasmin touching then the reason that brought second lady Shelli Gordon to the Spine will take it up a notch, or 30 … After losing her partner in possibly the worst way she decided to sign up for this monster of a race crossing the Peaks, Yorkshire Dales, Hadrians Wall and the Cheviots to raise money and awareness for her cause. In her own words:
"I am willing and wanting to push myself harder than i have before, to fighter those that are tired of fighting and for those that lost their fight". And that is just what she did. After 128 hours of battling snowstorms, bogs and what not the Hardmoors 100 champion of 2013 AND 2012 crossed the line as second lady behind Paris. You can read more about her cause by clicking the link below:
Third and final lady to crush the Spine was experienced ultra runner Gabriele Kenkenberg. She finished in 135:58 and improved on her time from last years spine by over 20 hours!
HONG KONG 100 100 km / 5300 m
In my preview of last week i some what ignorantly said that there would be a bunch of strong chinese runners to contend for the title against Ekaterina Mityaeva. Whilst I was right about that it is nice to be able to come back with some actual names to identify these strong chinese ladies.
Every year there seems to be at least 5 new strong athletes to emerge from the asian trail running scene and it's great to have at least a handful of international races on the calendar this year to get to know them better! Yangchun Lu debuted on the 100 k distance this weekend and judging not only by her first place but her incredibly even pacing in a race which saves all the climbs for its second half I dare to say she nailed it. For the first 50 k Lu had Jasmin Nungie hot on her heels. Nungie has an impressive resume of high placings in flatter shorter trail races such as Ultravasan and Swiss Alpine and the very run-able terrain of the first half suited her well, as the race progressed and got more technical she started to fall down the rankings and Fuzhao Xiang and Guangmei Yang took over the Lu-chasing duties. The two chinese runners continued strong and though they did not manage to reach the rocket at the top they held on to second and third into the finish. Ekaterina Mityaeva was never far behind and yo-yo ed between 4th and 6th place for most of the race to eventually finish in 5th. According to her instagram she was not a fan of the long stretch of tarmac (i hear ya sis!) and said she had some minor nutrition issues along the way. In fourth was yet another Chinese runner to add to the list of upcoming stars, Meiling Xu.
The irunfar.com contingent was out on live coverage duties and over at their site you can watch post race interviews with the top two ladies. It is interesting to hear that Yangchun herself was not as impressed by her pacing and stated that she think the 50 k distance is more suitable for her!
1. (and 8th OA) Yangchun Lu 11:47:19
2. Fuzhao Xiang 12:17:32
3. Guangmei Yang 12:43:19
4. Meiling Xu 13:02:24
5. Ekaterina Mityaeva 13:03:46
NEWS AND PREVIEWS
Next week looks like a very quiet one so instead of previews here are some interesting news!
Adidas Terrex are continuing to expand and it seems like their talent scouts have been keeping an eye on the british runners as they have added not only Tom Evans but also the mighty HOLLY PAGE to their team!
Emelie Forsberg has appeared on the list of registered runners for this years CCC! Sitting on the FKT for running up Mont Blanc she could very well be a contender for the 2019 title!
That is all from the green side of the road this week