Today we’ve chosen to re-air our episode with one of the great pioneers of Canadian women’s running, Diane Palmason. Sadly, Diane passed away over the Thanksgiving weekend in Courtenay BC and we feel so fortunate to have had this delightful conversation with her back in July 2021.
Diane recalls how she discovered her love of running at a Sunday school picnic when she was just seven years old. By 12 she was recruited to train with the Mercury Athletic Club, a women’s only track club coached by the legendary 1928 Olympian Myrtle Cook. Diane’s career dates back to before women were allowed to run anything longer than 220 yards in competition, but in 1954 at the age of 16 she proudly represented Canada at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver BC. This was the same competition where both Roger Bannister and John Landy ran under 4-minutes for the mile in the same race, so Diane even got to witness the “miracle mile.”
With no more opportunities to pursue, Diane retired from running at the age of 17 and carried on with her life. She went to university, became a teacher, married and had four children. Over 20 years went by before she burst back onto the scene, inspired by Eleanor Thomas’ win at the inaugural National Capital Marathon in 1975. Since then Diane has broken Canadian records in every age group from W40-W70 and at every distance from 100m to 80k. In 2003 Diane broke seven Canadian records from 100m to the marathon all within five months, some of which were also world records.
This conversation is a history lesson delivered through amazing storytelling. We owe Diane and the female runners of her time a debt of gratitude for spearheading a revolution and changing the commonly held beliefs about what women are capable of, particularly into their masters years.
Resources we discussed in the episode:
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