Yesterday morning at 9:29, Diane Van Deren reached the summit of the dunes at Jockey's Ridge State Park to complete her epic journey and set the new time record for the trail at 22 days, 5 hours and 3 minutes.
Since I wrote to you on Tuesday, North Carolina's weather gods continued to test her. She ran through 40-mph winds and 8 inches of rain during Tropical Storm Beryl to reach the Cedar Island-Ocracoke ferry. You can read all the details of her trek on the expedition blog.
As I drove home from Jockey's Ridge, I thought about how Diane's journey was different and how it was similar to the treks of the other 28 people who have completed the trail.
Diane is an extraordinary athlete, and the weather conditions she faced were unusually difficult. But she, like the other 28 people who have completed the trail before her, experienced moments - grand and small - when the beauty of North Carolina took her breath away. And like all MST completers, the trail challenged her in personal ways that were new and meaningful. And finally - like all MST completers - she met people who helped her and have become new friends. As Diane stood on the sand dunes at Jockey's Ridge, she spoke more about the people who helped her throughout her journey than she did about the hardships she endured.
When I talk to people like Diane who have completed the entire trail, I feel that the MST represents all that is good about North Carolina - its natural beauty and its generous people.
Speaking of generosity, Great Outdoor Provision Co. deserves great thanks from everyone who loves the MST for sponsoring Diane's run and using it as a way to raise awareness and money for the trail. Come out to your local Great Outdoor Provision Co. store tonight from 5 pm to 7 pm for their celebration of Diane's run. There will be live music, refreshments, a raffle drawing and they will donate 10% of any purchase you make to help acquire land for the trail. Tell the folks at the store that you appreciate their commitment to North Carolina's trail.