Jasmin Paris would be forgiven had she spent the past week lying in a darkened room, forbidding all but the most essential of interruptions.

She has, after all, just made history.

A week ago, Paris became the first woman ever to finish the Barkley Marathons.

The greatness of this feat cannot be overstated and for it to be accomplished by a Scot makes it all the more striking.

Since 1989, over 1000 runners have attempted the Barkley Marathons; only 20 have ever finished.

It’s the most extreme test of physical and mental endurance imaginable; in the treacherous surroundings ofFrozen Head State Park in Tennessee,five 20-mile laps of an entirely off-road course must be completed within the 60-hour time limit. Within the race, there’s16,500 metres of elevation – the equivalent of climbing Everest twice – and Paris completed it just 99 seconds under the 60-hour time limit.

Paris’ exhaustion at the end of the race was evident – she collapsed as soon as she touched the famous yellow gate that marks the finish line hence the reason most would understand why she done very little in the week since completing the race.

That’s just not her style, though.

She may have been the target of interview requests from literally dozens of media outlets from across the globe but Paris was, remarkably, back at work earlier this week.

And her return to her post as a senior veterinary lecturer at the University of Edinburgh was, she admits, a welcome return to reality after what has been a somewhat surreal few days.

“It’s been pretty crazy over the past week,” the 40-year-old says.

“I’ve been doing interviews and television programmes in America, South Africa, the UK and all over the world, it’s been incredible. I feel like everyone must be sick of listening to me talk about this. It’ll settle down soon though.”

Paris’ return to normality has also been expedited by her two children; her three-year-old son who has “no concept” of what she’s achieved and her six-year-old daughter, whose acknowledgement of her mum’s achievement has come primarily in the revelation that some of her friends at school have seen Paris on television.

The Midlothian native is recovering better from her exploits than anyone could have expected and a week on, the physical reminders of her history-making achievement are merely a cough, some blisters and a touch of tendinitis, as well as the remnants of the cuts and scrapes that she suffered while battling her way through the prickly undergrowth.

She’s not back running yet, but might well be within the next week or two.

So while, physically, Paris is returning to normal, she admits that the frenzy that’s greeted her achievement has meant that she’s had little time to process the race that ensures her name is etched into the history books forever and is surely one of the great Scottish sporting achievements of all-time.

“I feel like I’ve done so much talking about the race but I’ve had so little time to actually think about it myself.

“I cycled into work the other day which was so nice – it finally gave me time to think about the race and feel happy that it was done. It’s starting to sink in and the more time I get to think it over, the more it’ll sink in,” says Paris, who has attempted the Barkley Marathons twice previously.

“I’ve been trying to write down as many of the details of the race as I can because I will forget.

“There is some patchiness, though, and I wonder if that’s because I was pushing myself so hard that I’ve just blocked it out. I can remember quite a lot of details but whether I’ll be able piece together all five loops, I’m not sure.”

Paris has form when it comes to doing the seemingly impossible.

For a decade, she’s been known within the ultra-running community as one of the best in the world but it was in 2019, when she became the first-ever female winner of the 238-mile Spine Race, breaking the previous record by 12 hours, that she shot to wider prominence. To make her win even more remarkable, throughout the race, she expressed milk for her newborn baby, who she was still breastfeeding.

But even Paris, who’s well used to participating in races covering several hundreds of miles over the course of a number of days admits the Barkley was in another stratosphere in terms of how demanding it was.

She battled no sleep, hallucinations and general exhaustion on a level even she had never experienced before.

“For most of the runners at Barkley, the fourth loop is the one that’s really tough.

"You’ve got the cumulative tiredness but you know you’ve still to do every part of the loop again so that’s the hardest one for most people.

“For me, the third and fourth loops were both pretty bad, I struggled on those but on the fifth, I felt like I recovered a bit and that’s probably because I had a massive boost of adrenaline knowing I was close to the end,” she says.

“I didn’t really sleep, there’s no time to sleep. I gave myself a three-minute power nap between loops four and five but I’m not sure I actually slept, I think I just sat in a chair with my eyes closed.

“Hallucinations aren’t too uncommon for runners doing multi-day races - a lot of people see animals, which is what I saw. And I saw figures ahead of me.

“The first time you see it, you think it’s real and so it really confused me seeing these figures. I couldn’t understand what they were doing there but I entirely believed they were real because your brain’s showing you these things.

“But then you get nearer and you realise whatever it is isn’t even close to looking like a person, it’s just that your mind turns it into a person.

“It’s when you see it more than once, you realise it’s not real. I repeatedly saw those figures up ahead of me and so I got used to the fact they’re hallucinations.

“But every time you see a new thing, you’re tricked into believing it’s real.”

The Herald: Jasmin Paris in action

Paris may have pushed herself physically to the brink but in fact, it was her mind rather than her body that carried her to the finish line, particularly in the final few minutes.

“This year, I definitely had more inner self-belief that I could do it. That was a key reason that I finished – I never stopped believing that it was possible,” she says.

“I wouldn't have stopped voluntarily – the only reasons I’d have dropped out would have been if I’d been timed out, which was entirely possible, if I got an injury that literally stopped me being able to move, or if I collapsed. They were the only things that would have made me stop.

“I really didn’t want to set off on loop four but I knew that my mind wouldn’t allow me not to so my brain didn’t even bother putting up that argument.

“The last stages were incredibly intense and I pushed myself harder than I’ve ever pushed myself before and also, harder than I ever thought it was possible to push myself.

“I was just desperate not to have to do it again – that thought was just constantly going through my head. I knew that if I didn’t finish it, I’d have to do it again because I wouldn’t have let it rest.

“All that effort in the previous sixty hours came to a point and I just threw everything at it. I was willing to collapse in front of the gate and I was pretty close to that.

“Until about a kilometre to go, I knew it was going to be tight but I was confident I was going to manage it. But then the last kilometre was the first time I had doubts about whether I was going to make it or not. That was pretty awful knowing I had to keep pushing so hard.

“Touching the gate, I was gasping for breath and I just felt overwhelming relief that I’d made it.”

Already, Paris is planning her next race.

In May, she’ll run the Scottish Islands Peak Race, then the Jura Fell Race the following week before her next big challenge, the 330km-long Tor de Geants in Italy in September.

She remains non-committal as to whether she’d ever attempt to replicate her achievement at the Barkley, with much of her reluctance due to her stance on climate issues and her unwillingness to use air travel.

As co-founder of The Green Runners, Paris is a huge advocate for every individual doing what they can to reduce their carbon footprint.

To that end, the fact that the only way for her to be on the Barkley start-line is to fly there is a huge disincentive for her to try again.

There are, though, other reasons why she might never be back in Tennessee.

“The aim of The Green Runners is to inspire the running community to make greener choices so to fly to Barkley was a big decision for me. So now I’ve finished it, I’d rather not fly a long distance again,” she says.

“But overall, with the amount of publicity I’ve had, I’ve no doubt that the result of this has been net positive because now, if 100 people do one flight less, that’s a much bigger difference than me doing one flight to America for the race. Already, we’ve had loads of new members so I’m not worried that flying there was a bad choice but if you’re the co-founder of an organisation and preaching to people not to fly, it’s always a bit ironic if you’re then flying across the world.

“And the thing with the Barkley is you really need to want to do it – it’s not enough to just be fit. You know that you’re really going to suffer so you have to put your heart and soul into it because a big reason I finished this year was because I was fully committed.

“I’m not sure that if I did it again, I’d be willing to put myself through that much pain because what’s the incentive – to finish for a second time?

“I’d never say never because I’m always surprising myself but I’m definitely in no rush to go back.”