Running 1,000 miles in 24 Days

Ultrarunner takes on a speed challenge in North Carolina

Yesterday morning, Diane Van Derden hit the ground running with her latest record-breaking project attempt. The goal: Finish North Carolina’s 1,000-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail in less than 24 days. The North Face endurance athlete will have to average more than 38 miles a day, and will take more than 2.1 million steps from start to finish to achieve her goal.

But Van Derden, a mother of three, has more incentive to finish the trail in 24 days than the lowly recognition that comes with setting an obscure time record: If she doesn’t, she’ll miss her youngest son’s college graduation. But she’s not worried.

Van Derden is widely considered one of the world's greatest ultrarunners, knocking out 100-plus-mile races with ease. But she has an advantage (or, rather, a distinct disadvantage): Van Derden is missing a part of her brain—specifically, the part that deals with memory and organization. The small chunk of her right temporal lobe was removed in 1997 to stop an onslaught of epileptic seizures that had taken over her life. Consequently, she quickly forgets how far she’s already run. So she just keeps going.

You can track Van Derden as she traverses the mountains, swamps and beaches of the trail (she’s carrying a GPS beacon) and even join her for a portion of her run as she passes through cities and small towns. You can also follow the social-media savvy athlete on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #GODiane and #MSTRun hashtags for “up-to-the-minute” photo and video.

Via Never Stop Exploring.