Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In


Press Releases

Diane Van Deren Wins “Hardest Event In The World”

The North Face athlete Diane Van Deren wins the 300-mile Yukon Arctic Ultra 2008 in -48 degree conditions

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

The North Face, the world’s premier supplier of authentic, innovative and technically advanced outdoor apparel, equipment and footwear, today announced The North Face Endurance team athlete Diane Van Deren won the 2008 Yukon Arctic Ultra, touted as the world’s coldest and toughest footrace.

“I am still trying to grasp what I did, to be honest,” said Van Deren. “It is so beyond what the body is able to handle, and the extreme of what I completed. It has overwhelmed me.”

Van Deren covered 300 miles in the Yukon Territory. The race features a marathon, 100-mile and 300-mile course, and of the 31 entered, 24 participants withdrew from their respective races, some losing fingers and toes to hypothermia.

“There is no doubt in my mind that this is the hardest event in the world,” said Van Deren. “My goal was to finish it.”

Race day, February 9, was full of excitement and nervousness, but delayed due to the cold, around -48 degrees F, as the pace vehicles, snowmobiles, were frozen. With 26.2 miles to the first checkpoint, Van Deren and respective athletes headed into brutal wind and, as she says, indescribable cold. Five miles into the race, she reached into her sled, the 40 pounds of supplies she was towing behind her, to grab some water out of an insulated bottle. It was frozen solid. After receiving boiling water at the first checkpoint 20 miles later she learned that racers were already withdrawing due to the conditions and frostbite.

Continuing through, on to the 100-mile checkpoint and beyond, Van Deren was running on only two hours of sleep, and was diligent in making sure her fatigue did not drastically affect her navigation, food and water intake. Though the route was extremely well-marked, there were times when the winds were so high, the snow so blown, that it was difficult to decipher which way to go.

As the days and miles continued on, only Van Deren and Netherlands’ Chris Hammerlink had withstood the elements and distance in the 300-mile race. Van Deren continued, passing what seemed like endless frozen rivers and lakes. At one point it was unclear whether or not Hammerlink would be continuing, due to an injured knee, and whether or not Van Deren should carry on by herself. In true Van Deren form, she fought for the go-ahead and continued with a pacer who volunteered to brave the elements alongside her.

At only nine miles to go, race director Robert Pollhammer joined Van Deren on the course and walked in with her. At 4:30pm on February 17, Van Deren became the overall winner of the 2008 Yukon Arctic Ultra, and the first-ever female to win it.

“It didn’t matter if I won or not,” said Van Deren. “I had all my fingers and toes and no frostbite. I have tested my body to the most extreme.”

For more information on Diane Van Deren and The North Face Endurance team, check out:

About The North Face®
The North Face, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1968. Headquartered in San Leandro, California, the company offers the most technically advanced products in the market to accomplished climbers, mountaineers, snowsport athletes, endurance athletes, and explorers. The company’s products are sold in specialty mountaineering, backpacking, running, and snowsport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains.

Press Contacts:
Pamela Bennett

Amy Goldhammer