Diane Van Deren (you remember her) is attempting a record on North Carolina’s 1,000-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) starting this Thursday. She’ll kick off the journey from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, aiming to reach the trail’s end at the Outer Banks in fewer than 24 days, averaging more than 38 miles a day and aiming to finish by June 2.
The current record was set last summer by a Marion, NC, school teacher, who thru-hiked (actually, ran) the MST in 24 days, 3 hours, and 50 minutes. Only 28 people have completed the trail, and most hikers complete the trail in two to three months.
The 52-year-old Colorado resident and mom of three dedicated this expedition to raising awareness of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and treatment options for brain injuries. Diane herself had a section of her brain removed to stop terrifying seizures, which she dealt with for 10 years prior to the surgery, but she is now seizure-free and running well!
“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,” Diane says. “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.”
The MST is built and maintained by the volunteers of the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, in cooperation with the N.C. State Parks Division and several federal agencies. In conjunction with this event, Great Outdoor Provision Co. (one of her sponsors) is seeking to raise $40,000 for Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. In addition to the Great Outdoor Provision Co., a Raleigh-based outdoor clothing and equipment retailer, Diane is sponsored by The North Face.
Follow Diane as she hikes/runs on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on twitter (@MSTEnduranceRun) or the expedition’s website. Greatoutdoorprovision.com/mst-endurance-run will feature news and enable viewers to “track” Diane as she runs, carrying a GPS Spot Messenger unit that will update us mortals on her location.
Or, hike it yourself. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail offers up opportunities for family day hikes and multi-day wilderness experiences.