Jasmin Paris broke the female record for the Paddy Buckley round last weekend, meaning she has smashed the female records for all three of the classic British fell running challenges within six months. On top of that, she also holds the overall record for the Ramsay Round and the overall record time for all three rounds combined.
To give you some perspective on that, Jasmin's total time for running the three rounds – that's 42 Lakeland peaks including the four 3,000ers; 60 miles up and down 24 Scottish peaks including Ben Nevis, the Aonachs and the whole Mamores ridge; and 62 miles over 47 of Wales highest peaks – is 50 hours and 10 minutes.
And to break that down, the previous Paddy Buckley Record was 19 hours and 2 minutes, set by Nicky Spinks in 2013. Jasmin ran it in 18 hours and 33 minutes. It took her 16 hours and 13 minutes to run the Ramsay Round and 15 hours and 24 minutes to run the Bob Graham Round.
JP: I did woefully little recce-ing before the Paddy Buckley round. In contrast to the Bob Graham and Ramsay Rounds, both of which I knew well, large sections of the Paddy Buckley Round were completely new to me: legs three and four – Capel Curig to Nantmor, and Nantmore to Rhyd-ddu.
Not knowing what lay ahead definitely made it harder mentally when things got tough. I had intended to spend a weekend recce-ing in early August, but I had a bit of tendonitis at the time, and I knew that if I spent the weekend running I would probably put myself out of contention for racing the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc on August 26 [Jasmin finished sixth lady in the UTMB, 51st overall, in a time of 28:34:35].
Highs on the Paddy Buckley round were largely early on, when I still felt good. The early morning clag lifted when we were nearing the summit of Tryfan on the first leg (Llanberis to Ogwen), and suddenly we were met with a view of the valley below us, golden in the autumn morning light.
Sunset as I ran over the Nantlle Ridge was also incredible, in spite of my exhausted state at that stage. The hardest point was probably climbing Moel Siabod at the start of leg three. At that stage I still had around 13 hours of running to do, and it was already feeling really difficult.
My support team was simply phenomenal. There is absolutely no way I would have made it without them. Not only did I have brilliant navigators, but they also cheered me and fed me and kept me going when I had nothing left to give. They were:
Leg 1: Chris Near and Tim Higginbottom.
Leg 2: Alex McVey, Adam Stirk and Anthony Bethell.
Leg 3: Jim Mann, Liz Barker, Jon Ascroft, Tim Budd and John Ryan.
Leg 4: Sarah Ridgeway, Julien Minshull and Joasia Zakrzewski.
Leg 5: Gareth Hughes and Konrad Rawlik.
Static support: Mum (Alena Vencovska), Dad (Jeff Paris), Digby Harris, Sam Harris, Andrea Minshull and Moss the Collie.
For my three big rounds I’ve had the most amazing three days of weather one could wish for. That said, I did actually postpone my attempts for the two previous rounds based on the weather forecast, so it wasn’t entirely by luck. Similarly, in the case of the Paddy Buckley I was originally supposed to start on Saturday, but moved to Sunday to fit the weather window.
The Paddy Buckley route is stunningly beautiful, wild, and rough. Compared with the Bob Graham Round the terrain is far rougher, with substantial sections of heather bashing, bogs and bracken between Capel Curig and Rhyd-ddu. Compared with the Ramsay Round the climbs are smaller and more numerous, and the support is easier (four road crossings compared with one), but there is a similar feeling of remoteness, which the Bob Graham Round lacks.
I’d love to do more running in Wales! Getting there from Edinburgh is a bit of a trek though. I think we’ll have to schedule a holiday sometime in the future.
WATCH: Nicky Spinks run the Bob Graham Round on BMC TV
All three challenges were wonderful in different ways. For the Bob Graham I was fit and totally fresh, and the result was a bit of an eye-opener. The Ramsay was special because it’s in big mountains, on my doorstep, and because I ran it intending, and succeeding, to get the overall record. The Paddy Buckley was new, and exciting, but also far and away the hardest for me, being at the end of the season, on tired legs, with shorter daylight hours, on waterlogged ground.
I worked through the challenges from easiest to hardest, from my perspective at least. For a Welsh local, the Paddy Buckley might be easier than the Ramsay. I started with the easiest, which has to be the Bob Graham (largely on trods and paths, relatively easy terrain, lots of local support, easy to get to and recce), moved to the local but more remote Ramsay, and saved the Paddy Buckley for last. I hoped (and was right in doing so), that it would be easier to get good local support for the Paddy Buckley, having already completed the other two Rounds in record times.
Now I've completed the challenges I’m looking forward to going on some gentle walks with our four-month old Border Collie puppy Moss, starting with his first beach day this weekend. After that, I might have a look at the Lakeland 24-hour record.
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