When my mom, Diane, called me mid-February of 2019 and said she was going to run the Knoxville Marathon for Uncle Denny the end of March, my first thought (and probably comment 😳) was to the effect of “I really don’t recommend that, you haven’t even been running!”

It wasn’t her first marathon. She completed the Baltimore Marathon in 2014. Which at the time, she had swollen knees and bleeding feet afterwards and had “retired” from running.

She was determined to keep her brothers streak alive, inspired to run in his place in faith until he could return to the start line. You see, my uncle, Denny Depp, was one of the Knoxville Marathon Streakers. He had run every one since it’s inception. Fourteen to be exact. And in February of that year he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, which is the most complex, treatment-resistant and deadliest type of brain cancer, and it was affecting his mobility.

And she did run that race for her brother, to keep his place in his Knoxville Marathon Streak.  And, she had a time relatively close to her time in 2014. Not too bad for 6 weeks of “training”.

My mom, Diane, and her big bro and Ironman, Denny Depp after the 2019 Knoxville Marathon.

It was early 2020 and while Diane was training for the spring race, we all know what happened. It was postponed, then went virtual.

Also during that time, my uncle’s condition worsened, and eventually he lost the battle with glioblastoma in September 2020.

So you can imagine how Diane’s life has been over those months from March 2019 to Fall 2020. However, she was determined to continue the 2020 race in his honor.

We scheduled a time in November 2020 where I loaded my bike and my two kids and their bikes, and off to PA we went. I was NOT in training for a marathon, and knew my best way to support her was on my bicycle (which I had got during the pandemic to ride with the kiddos).

Turns out, it was a wet rainy day that we went up and down a rails to trails path for 26.2 miles. But she did it. And that’s when I said “Are you going to do this every year?”

Her – Yes.

Me – Will you please train?

Her – Yes. [And train she did!]

The race was back in person in fall of 2021 and with consistent training with running 3 days a week, a complimentary strength program and adequate recovery, she showed up to Knoxville in March 2022 and SMASHED her goal of under 6 hours. I met with her right before the 26 mile marker and asked if she knew how well she was doing? She had no idea, and she responded that she never took her phone out of the pocket (whaaat?) when I told her she was well under 5:30, well, you can imagine her excitement!

Her consistent training paid off with a PR to the tune of over an hour in less than a year!!!!

UNBELIEVABLE??? Not really. She put in the hard work. We worked on her nutrition, rest, recovery and she was still able to enjoy cross country skiing throughout the winter, put on her infamous cousins camp and more!

INSPIRATIONAL!!!! is more like it!!! 

The family gathering post-race October 2021.
Mom, Sis and me after the 2022 Finish!

The next race was a quick turnaround from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022, and with some health hurdles she STILL crossed the finish line with confidence with my sister and I cheering her on with our grandma, grandpa and her step brother!

And now we get to this last race. As the distances started picking up in January, and as the runs got longer, she was having a harder time not only recovering from the run but also getting through some of them.  By mid-February, we talked about some things she should ask her doctor. After an adjustment to her thyroid meds (per the dr, not me) she was able to complete her training, which we modified to adjust for the fatigue and need for recovery.

And this year, it was just her and me in Knoxville. We did our usual Saturday Brunch at Ruby Sunshine, hung out at the race expo, and got her salmon and rice for her pre-run dinner. We were all set.

Race day morning. I just have to say it, she was amazing. At approximately 6am, we were in our room, just outside of the start line, and she tells me “I can’t do it”. I said, “Yes you can, you have come this far” and yet again, she did. She had an A goal to finish and B goal with a time.

Even through the struggles, she beat the previous year’s time by 17 seconds! (PS: She loves the number 7, second to the number 3). And the best part was, the post-race pizza lunch . Where we went back through all of her old times and she shared her goal for next year. That isn’t mine to share, but I’m so excited to see her through this next year of training, where the goal is more than just to finish. We know that will happen 😉

She will be there as she continues to run her brother’s race. A double duty, not only a way to honor him by continuing his legacy, but also for the health benefits of running and training have brought her.

We’re looking at getting a group: Strong Moms Run x Knoxville. Will you be there?

#everystepfordennydepp #runningwithemotion #herbrothersrace

Diane’s 6th Marathon Finish, 5th consecutive Knoxville Marathon Finish April 2023.