Born in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in Littleton, Colo., 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. Diane currently resides in Sedalia, Colo., with her husband and three children.
Van Deren suffered from epilepsy, undergoing grand mal seizures for years. Then in 1997, she made the decision to undergo brain surgery to relieve the symptoms. There was a risk of brain damage, but Van Deren weighed that risk against the risk of further brain damage or dying during one of her violent seizures, which had worsened over the years. Surgeons removed a damaged portion of her brain, and the seizures stopped. But there was some damage to her brain from the procedure. Van Deren lost her sense of direction, and her sense of time passing. There is also some memory loss, and a tendency toward sensory overload. In 2002, she began running ultra-marathons, races of 50 miles or more. Van Deren excelled in the longer races, which may be a result of her surgery. She is not aware of the length of time she is running, and may be less aware of pain than she would be otherwise. Now 52 years old, Van Deren finished the 1,000-mile Mountain to Sea Trail in North Carolina on Saturday, June 2, 2012. Her 22-day run set a record for the course, which had never been accomplished in less than 24 days before. Van Deren says she is now through with 1,000-mile races, but will continue in 50- and 100-mile events.