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Ultra runner highlights of Kendal Mountain Festival  - part two

Photo credit: Kathryn Bullock.

Ultra runner highlights of Kendal Mountain Festival - part two


By Kathryn Bullock

For the uninitiated the Kendal Mountain Festival is a must go long weekend event for the mountain junkie. The festival runs every mid November and has attracted visitors, speakers and film makers from around the world. According to the locals it gets bigger and more popular every year. 

The festival is held in the small pretty town of Kendal, strategically placed at the entrance to the Lake District with a strong closely knit community of fell runners and mountain bike enthusiasts. I wasn’t sure what to expect, never having been before, but I enjoyed the vibe. This is the second of a two part series on the highlights of the festival so don’t miss part one featuring James Elson, Manu Vilaseca and Joe Grant.

Jasmin Paris

Next up at the Buff endurance session was the “Duracell Bunny” Jasmin who claims she fell into fell running whilst at university in 2008 and running with the Glossop Dale Harriers. She then went to Minnesota for a year and came back to the UK in 2010 and started to do long races such as The Dragon’s Back. She claims that “it’s all about stamina and to keep going. You get the feeling you can run forever.

Jasmin decided to tackle the Bob Graham which is a legendary and gruelling race of 42 Lake District peaks. She opted to try it first in the winter and in so doing became the fastest woman to complete a winter Bob Graham in February 2016. She shared some great images of the extra challenging icy conditions.

Jasmin holds the records for the Bob Graham in April 2016 with a time of 15 hours 24 minutes, taking two and a half hours off the previous record by Nicky Spinks. She also ran the Ramsay Round in June 2016 with a record time of 16 hours 13 minutes. In October 2016 she set the record for the Paddy Buckley Round with a time of 18 hours 33 minutes.

In September 2016 Jasmin was crowned Champion of the Skyrunner World series winning the Tromsø and Glen Coe Skyline races.

Why no prize parity?

Jasmin’s talk prompted a member of the audience to question why with women leading the field in fell running why there still isn’t prize parity in running events. Jasmin then admitted that she’d taken part in a race where there was a prize for the first and second man and nothing for the women taking part. Shocking news indeed!  I hope all race organisers are reading this and taking note.

Rob Jebb

To round off the evening we had the entertaining and blokeish fell runner Rob who shared some candid stories about his feats on the fells. Rob is best known for winning the UK Three Peaks Cyclo Cross in Yorkshire ten times since 2000. He’s even known for finding the energy to go to a ceilidh after doing the race and eating all his jelly babies!

Rob completed the UK Bob Graham in July 2016 in 14 hours 30 minutes as he thought “he could beat a girl”. Jasmin smiled sweetly at him at this point! That’s getting closer to the record of 13 hours 53 minutes, set by Billy Bland in 1982.

Rob shared his funny stories about doing the UK Paddy Buckley round in Snowdonia and the Scottish Munros. Top tips from Rob were “Never change your shoes in a fell race.”

Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita

For those able to scramble out of bed in time for the 9am Sherpa session, they were in for a treat.  Adventurer Heather Geluk interviewed female Nepali mountaineer Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita about her climb of Everest and K2. 

Pasang Lhamu and two Nepali friends became the first Nepali women to climb K2, considered the most dangerous mountain in the world. It took Pasang more than five months to persuade her husband to climb Everest and raising funds was a huge issue. She faced a huge amount of criticism from her family and local community for wanting to do the climb as a woman. Pasang Lhamu described injuring her back and suffering up the mountain. She said that climbing Everest was not about conquering it but to feel it.

On her ascent of K2 It took more than 38 hours of travel from Islamabad and then five days of trekking before she was able to see K2 as it is such an illusive mountain. They faced many challenges such as crossing glaciers, landslides and getting clean water.

After the Nepal earthquake

Following the devastating earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, Pasang Lhamu sprang into action immediately and led a team of volunteers to help those at Everest Base Camp, who were badly injured, following the avalanches that wiped out the camp. She showed incredible bravery and has continued to work tirelessly to help all the thousands of Nepalis still living in temporary shelters across the region.

Pasang Lhamu won the 2016 People’s choice National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and such a well deserved prize for an incredibly brave individual. Read more about her story here.

So there you have it – five very different runners and an amazing young female climber who has conquered two of the most forbidding mountains on the planet, each with amazing stories to share.

Don’t miss next year’s festival where I’m sure there’ll be more entertaining stories and stunning scenery to enjoy. Take your running shoes as they often include a quick 10k run around the area which is an added treat.


All images Kathryn Bullock.

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