“The diversity and complexity of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is what first drew me to this challenge, since the terrain ranges from high peaks to swamps and sand,” said Van Deren. “I know I’ll run into my fair share of obstacles, but I’m looking forward to exploring a region of the country that is new to me.”
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in Littleton, Colo., Diane has excelled as an elite athlete in a variety of disciplines throughout her career. As a child, she competed on boys’ baseball teams, showed her horse in local rodeos, and won Colorado State Championship titles in both golf and tennis. Being named to the “All State Basketball” team her senior year resulted in college scholarship offers for both basketball and tennis. Diane left high school early to play on the women’s European pro tennis tour. She then attended University of Texas, Permian Basin, graduating with a degree in speech communications.
After graduation, Diane traveled throughout the United States and Europe as a sponsored professional tennis player. When she finally settled down to raise a family, Diane shifted into a coaching role, teaching positive attitudes and self-confidence. She balanced organizing neighborhood tennis programs and coaching junior basketball with her own training schedule.
Diane was diagnosed with epilepsy while she was pregnant with her third child. A strong and accomplished athlete, Diane continued to pursue her athletic passions, but after ten years of frightening seizures she underwent brain surgery that removed part of her right temporal lobe. Diane’s tenacity and endurance has driven her to win grueling events like the 2009 Yukon Arctic Ultra, a 430-mile foot race across a frozen wilderness. In 2010 she turned to mountaineering and climbed South America’s tallest peak, Aconcagua, during which researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester wired her up and monitored her movements to see what sets her apart from other athletes.
Diane feels it’s important to share her personal story with others and speaks all over the country. She also raises money for Craig Hospital, which helps patients and families affected by spinal cord and traumatic brain injury, with her “Miles for a Mission” fundraising effort.
She lives in Sedalia, Colorado, with her husband and three children.
Words to Live By: Never say “CAN’T”; Dreams are only dreams unless we act upon them
Dream Vacation: There are way too many places I would love to see, maybe Antarctica and Australia.
Three Things You Always Pack: Food, coffee, cash
Favorite Destination for Your Sport: Anywhere with scenic views and good coffee
Favorite Movie: Blindside
Favorite Magazine: Trail Runner, Outside Magazine, National Geographic
Three TNF Items You Always Pack: Diad jacket, running shoes, running attire, and workout clothes. I’m always ready for a run and to meet others who enjoy the outdoors.
Causes: Raising money and awareness for Craig Hospital which is the top hospital in the country for spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation
Proudest Moment of Your Career: Female Trail Runner of the Year being featured on the Today Show as an “extraordinary mom”; Front page article in the New York Times
Favorite Trail: Pikes Peak
Favorite Music for Running: I don’t listen to music when I’m running the back trails. My music is the sound of the wind, rivers, leaves blowing against one another etc. I enjoy the quietness of the outdoors.
Is There a Race You Compete in Annually? The Hard Rock 100 Miler, it is the hardest 100 miler in the country and this race has become like a family to see all the top runners from around the world
Favorite Snack: Pretzels
Favorite Piece of Your Sport’s History: The invention of lighter trail running shoes
Inspiration: There is so much more about ultra running than winning races and setting world records.
* 3rd women’s – The North Face Endurance Challenge 80K, Salta, Argentina
* 10th women’s, 1st in age group – The North Face 50-Miler, Washington, DC
* 5th women’s, 6th time finisher – Hardrock 100-Miler, Silverton, CO
* Canadian Death Race
* 2011 The North Face Speaker Series City Tour
* 5th women’s – The North Face China 100K
* 10th women’s, 1st in age group – Australia 100K The North Face Endurance Race
* 5th time finisher – Hardrock 100-Miler, Silverton, CO
* 7th women’s, 1st in age group – Canadian Death Race 120K
* 2nd women’s – Washington Cascades Plain 100-Miler
* 5th women’s – Atlanta The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile
* 2010 The North Face Speaker Series City Tour
* 3rd women’s – Death Race, Grand Cache, Canada
* 8th women’s – Hard Rock Trail, 100 Miler, Silverton, CO
* 4th women’s – Big Horn, 100 Mile Trail Run, Wyoming
* 4th overall – The North Face 100, Outdoor Endurance Challenge, Beijing Changping
* 1st womens/4th overall – Yukon Arctic Ultra 430-mile, Whitehorse, Canada
* 3rd women’s – North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile, Midwest Regional
* Finisher – Tour de Mt Blanc 160 km, Chamonix, France
* 1st overall – Yukon Arctic Ultra 300 mile, Whitehorse, Canada
* 4th women’s – Bear Mountain Endurance Race, New York, NY
* 2nd women’s – Collegiate Peaks 50 mile, Buena Vista, CO
* 6th women’s – Lake City 50 mile, Lake City, CO
* 5th women’s – Hardrock 100, Silverton, CO
* 1st women’s – Canadian Death Race 78 mile, Edmonton, Canada
* 1st overall – 24 hours in Frisco Trail Run, Frisco, CO
* 1st women’s – Dances w/ the Dirt 50 mile, Hell, MI