Diane Van Deren: “I use my legs as my words”
On February 15, 2009, a dozen runners toed the starting line of the Yukon Arctic Ultra, a 430-miler across frozen tundra in the dead of winter. With 30-below temperatures and seven-hour windows of daylight, it’s said to be the toughest race in the world. Not a single woman had ever completed it. But, then, there is no woman like Diane Van Deren.
Twelve years ago Van Deren, a former pro tennis player, had a kiwi-size chunk of her brain removed to treat epileptic seizures. The lobectomy was successful, but since then she has noticed a strange side effect: She can run without pause for hours.
Diane’s complete National Georgraphic story can be read here — and below is the second part of a great video produced by Colorado Outdoors that explains the role of endurance running in her battle with epilepsy.
This past July, the NYT profiled Van Deren, as well: “Brain surgery frees runner, but raises barriers.”
Finally, here’s a 60-second glimpse of the Yukon Arctic Ultra, perhaps the hardest (certainly the coldest) endurance event in the world, and one that a runner in the video says “destroys your mind as well as your body.”