We can all learn a lesson from the exploits of ultramarathon runner Jasmin Paris - Daxa Patel

Jasmin Paris is an amazing lady. If you have followed her story this weekend you will know what I mean. This lady ran the world’s toughest races and said she did it “to inspire women worldwide.” She is the first female runner and one of only 20 runners to have completed the Barkley Ultramarathon in Tennessee, USA, of 100 miles.

She is also the first British runner to have done this. She did it in 59 hours, 58 minutes and 21 seconds, with just 39 seconds to spare before the 60 hours cut-off. This marvellous lady from Midlothian has shown the human potential to push boundaries and succeed against all odds.

This was a gruelling course of one hundred miles involving 60,000ft of climb and decent thought to be about twice the height of the Mt. Everest.

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I have enormous respect for this lady, and I respect her even more because she is a vet. I have run five marathons in the UK, and I thought these races were hard, but this ultramarathon is on a whole new level with extreme weather conditions, often pathless terrain and running through brambles, dense forest on steep slopes, it doesn't bare thinking about.

Jasmin Paris is the first female runner and one of only 20 runners to have completed the Barkley Ultramarathon in Tennessee. PIC: Peter Tarry/The Sunday Times via PAJasmin Paris is the first female runner and one of only 20 runners to have completed the Barkley Ultramarathon in Tennessee. PIC: Peter Tarry/The Sunday Times via PA
Jasmin Paris is the first female runner and one of only 20 runners to have completed the Barkley Ultramarathon in Tennessee. PIC: Peter Tarry/The Sunday Times via PA

Apart from a personal achievement of completing such a tough ultramarathon, she is also the record holder of becoming the first lady out of 20 people to have completed this. This is a massive achievement. But she has done much more, she has inspired so many like me that if we set our minds to achieve a goal, with the right training, and right support, our dreams can come true.

Recently, I have written about my frustration when we humans get things wrong. Can we use her as our teacher to get things right?To run such an arduous race, we must admire her dedication, resilience, and ability to overcome obstacles. Now if only we chose to adopt a similar mindset in tackling societal issues and striving for positive change, we could bring about positive change.

We can draw parallels between Jasmin’s remarkable feat and the challenges we face in areas like the ongoing conflicts in the world, and the issues at home in say health and social care.

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Politicians are afraid of being ambitious and they are afraid of losing their seats. We could set some ambitious goals, like for example, eradicating homelessness. A 100 per cent guarantee that no older person will be left alone to fend for their care and will be cared for even if they have no funds of their own.

Athletes are used to setting ambitious goals, staying focused in the face of adversity, and never giving up, even when the odds seem overwhelming. They encourage others to believe in their own potential to make a difference and effect positive change, and there is a powerful message here.

Based on my amateur experience of running marathons, I know there are many low points when it is so tempting to want to give up. Running is a solitary game against the self, but leading change with a ‘can do’ mindset can galvanise others to join in. We can only imagine how many low points this lady will have faced during her run, as in most parts apart from marshals, and volunteers offering energy drinks she will have done this all alone. I recall running the Yorkshire Marathon which had a few country roads where it was just me and the cows in the field to cheer me on. Her journey was probably one hundred times worse, but my point is, if our leaders took a leaf out of the book of this athlete they could really make some longer lasting societal change for our collective good.

Triumph comes from hardship, but through the power of determination and perseverance. It is important to think big and aim for transformative change. Here are a few outlandish goals for world leaders.

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Universal basic income: Imagine a world where every citizen, regardless of their background or circumstances, receives a guaranteed income to cover their basic needs. This could help alleviate poverty, reduce inequality, and empower individuals.

Zero hunger: Setting a goal to eradicate hunger globally may seem ambitious, but with innovative solutions, sustainable agriculture practices, and collective action, we can work towards ensuring that no one goes to bed hungry.

100 per cent renewable energy: Transitioning to a completely renewable energy system is a bold goal that could help combat climate change, reduce pollution, and create a more sustainable future for generations to come. Al Gore has a point.

Quality education for all: Imagine a world where every child has access to high-quality education, regardless of their socio-economic status or location. By prioritising education as a fundamental right, we can empower individuals to reach their full potential and contribute to a more equitable society.

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Gender equality in leadership and pay: Striving for equal representation of men and women in leadership positions across all sectors can lead to more diverse perspectives, better decision-making and a more inclusive society.

We all have the capacity to achieve great things and make a meaningful impact in the world so why can’t we learn from Jasmin Paris?

Daxa Manhar Patel is a leadership coach, author and solicitor.

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