Keep on keepin’ on

The New York Times has a fantastic profile of ultramarathon runner Diane Van Deren who became a world class endurance athlete after having brain surgery to remove a large chunk of her right temporal lobe.

The surgery was to treat otherwise untreatable epilepsy and has left her with memory and organisation difficulties, neither of which stop her from running and winning races of several hundred miles.

Van Deren, 49, had a lobectomy in 1997. She has become one of the world‚Äôs great ultra-runners, competing in races of attrition measuring 100 miles or more. She won last year‚Äôs Yukon Arctic Ultra 300, a trek against frigid cold, deep snow and loneliness, and was the first woman to complete the 430-mile version this year…

[Neuropsychologist] Gerber, who works at Craig Hospital, a rehabilitation hospital in Englewood, Colo., for people with brain or spinal-cord injuries, said that Van Deren “can go hours and hours and have no idea how long it’s been.” Her mind carries little dread for how far she is from the finish. She does not track her pace, even in training. Her gauge is the sound of her feet on the trail.

“It’s a kinesthetic melody that she hits,” Gerber said. “And when she hits it, she knows she’s running well.”

Link to NYT on Van Deren.

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