Diane Van Deren: “I use my legs as my words”

November 21, 2009 at 11:29 pm 3 comments

National Geographic Adventurer magazine profiles Adventurers of the Year in their December 2009/January 2010 edition. The opening paragraphs on ultrarunner Diane Van Deren had me hooked:

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.”

play, think…
J.R. Atwood


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jleeger  |  November 22, 2009 at 1:13 am

    fascinating and inspiring!

  • 2. Jim Kellett  |  December 21, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    I had a chance to work with Diane while I was producing a video segment for the TV show, Colorado Outdoors. She is truly one of the most inspiring people I’ve met. I have posted some of the show segments on both Youtube.co and Vimeo.com The link above connects to youtube. Both parts are available on Vimeo and play back at a higher quality.

    • 3. J.R. Atwood  |  December 21, 2009 at 11:43 pm

      Hi Jim! Diane is certainly a fascinating and inspiring person — and thanks for producing such a great video to help share her story.

      I’ve updated the video in this blog with the Vimeo hi-def version.


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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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