One of the best things about crossing the finish line in a running race is that practically anyone, anywhere, can do it—all you need is a pair of running shoes and the motivation to train. “There’s nothing like getting out on a trail, setting a goal, and going for it,” says ultrarunner Diane Van Deren.
Van Deren recommends The North Face Endurance Challenges, six trail and road running races held across the country from California to Washington, D.C. Choose from seven different distances, including 5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon, marathon relay, 50K, and 50 miles. “There’s something for every runner,” says Van Deren. “The important thing is to choose a distance that’s challenging, yet achievable, in a city you’ve always wanted to visit.”
Diane Van Deren
Ultrarunner Diane Van Deren takes her sport to the extreme. In 2009, she became the first and only woman to complete the Yukon Arctic Ultra, a 430-mile race across frozen tundra in the dead of winter. In 2012, she ran an average of 40 miles a day for 22 days to set a new record on the nearly thousand-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail that winds through North Carolina. Read her Adventurers of the Year profile.
Diane Van Deren's Gear Pick: A Watch
“A watch. Any watch. It doesn’t have to be fancy," says the ultrarunner. "Just something that keeps you on track and reminds you when you need to get home. Otherwise, I could be out on the trails all day.” Van Deren wears a purple Timex Ironman.