CASTLE PINES, Colo. -- What would you do if you had already finished and won the toughest ultramarathon on the planet? A local professional endurance runner is using her experiences to inspire others, including Denver police officer John Adsit, who was critically injured on the job in December.
Diane Van Deren is a professional endurance athlete for North Face. She is training for a 50-mile race in Rio de Janeiro next month. That’s a short race by her standards.
“I tend to do better on 100 mile races or more,” she said.
Van Deren picked up long-distance running 14 years ago after she was diagnosed with epilepsy.
“Here I was a pro athlete, never drank, did drugs, treated my body like a temple and all of a sudden, these seizures started taking over my life,” Van Deren said. “The only thing I found when I had a premonition about to have a seizure, I would go run and I found some reason, when I would run, it was debate the onset of the seizure so really I got into ultra-running for fear of running from the seizure.”
After surgery to remove the damaged tissue from her brain, the seizures stopped. But her running continues, and now she hopes to inspire others to reach their own goals.
A few months ago, she had a chance to meet Adsit and encourage him on his journey to recover after being run over by a car.
“You know I remember talking to him (and) my heart was racing, I was holding back tears, some of that vulnerability,” Van Deren said.
They go to the same church, Foundry Church in Castle Pines. Van Deren is helping to organize their 5K “Rise and Run” fundraiser race to support Adsit and his family.
Adsit said the community support has been a big part of his recovery.
“It’s overwhelming and humbling to see people truly care about their first responders like they do, I got to witness firsthand,” Adsit said.