Zwifter Diane Letheren Didn’t Let Defeat Stop Her From Riding 1,000Km

After injury and disappointment caused her to abandon her first 1,000km attempt, Diane Letheren found strength and knowledge in the Zwift community

Diane Letheren 1,000 Zwift KMs screenshot

Endurance sports can be a fickle friend. When things are going well, we can ride or run all day. Then as quickly as the satisfaction of exploring our body’s limits “giveth,” they often “taketh away”. Cycling tends to humble us that way. We’ve all been there, and so has Diane Letheren.


December 2022 was the first time Diane attempted to ride 1,000km on Zwift. Unfortunately she had to stop short of the distance when her body took away the rewarding fulfillment of achieving her goal – “I had to stop because of knee pain,” Diane shared her disappointment, “I couldn’t put any pressure through my leg when I pedaled.” The mother of two grown children, from Kendal, England, describes. She was dejected.


Find Diane’s Strava here and her ZwiftPower profile here.


Ironically, Diane found Zwift in a similar twist of fortuitous chance. She was a runner who enjoyed training for and competing in various distances up to and including half-marathons. During the 2020 pandemic lockdown, she set her sights on completing a full marathon.


“Unfortunately, an IT band injury put paid to that ambition,” she explains, “my sports therapist suggested cycling as an alternative to running.” Diane was intimidated by the traffic and potholes of the narrow country lanes of Cumbria and knew she would never have the confidence to ride outside.

“I’d seen an advert for Zwift and as my brother-in-law is a keen cyclist I asked if he knew anything about it. By chance, he used Zwift during the winter months, so after a short demo I was itching to give it a go.” she recalls the beginning of her Zwift hobby/healthy addiction.

After uncovering her long lost Halfords bike and dusting it off, she purchased a wheel-on trainer, signed up to Zwift and set off pedaling. The first Zwift group she joined was The Herd where she learned the ropes and eventually was encouraged to join one of their ladies racing teams, the Humboldt Penguins, to race in the ZRL. At the same time she also signed up for the Thursday TTTs. The camaraderie hooked her.

“The group chat in Messenger and Discord on race day and beforehand was always lively and supportive,” Diane notes, and “within a month or so, I knew this would satisfy my competitive edge and challenge me.” It was at this time that she made the decision to upgrade her bike and trainer to a Kickr Core and her Zwift cycling aspirations.

Diane Letheren 1,000 Zwift KMs indoor bike setup

Diane’s endurance journey began in February 2022 when she rode 170 km in support of a Zwift friend’s successful attempt at 1,000km and vEveresting in one ride, “from that moment on the endurance seed had been planted, just how far could I ride” were constant thoughts. The 1,000km goal found a place in her mind, though a lack of endurance training and nutrition knowledge was, at that time, another hurdle to be overcome. As was the fact that at 59 years old, she was attempting to do things she couldn’t do before.


“I can’t let that stop me,” she remembers saying to herself. Diane consistently built her distance and knowledge base: “I’m now fitter and more active than I’ve ever been, and age is only a number.”

So was 1,000. Diane was determined not to let that stop her, either.

It was in May 2022 that Diane joined the BanditZ Zwift team, “and I’ve gone from strength to strength, becoming part of their sweep team.” The following months were taken up with longer and longer rides, during one of which, she was rewarded with the Zwift vEverest badge. She enjoyed the luxury of time to indulge in her Zwift hobby, and the passion grew into a quest for extraordinary endurance challenges and the 1000km goal began to feel achievable.


A first attempt at 1,000km proved unsuccessful when her knee gave out halfway through.


At 6am on the morning of May 6, 2023, five months after that first effort, Diane set forth to erase the doubt, overcome the injury that set her back before, and conquer the quest for 1,000 Zwift kilometres. Alongside her ride partner Alex Pudduck the pair tried to maintain 30kph on the flat Tempus Fugit route.


Diane fell back on the nutrition and hydration advice of friends, admitting that, “None of the food was weighed out into specific portions as I wouldn’t know where to start with calculating all of that. I’m not a professional athlete by any stretch of the imagination.”

After 22 hours of riding, she almost fell asleep in the saddle and due to the discomfort there were a few tears and thoughts of stopping. As the hours and kilometres passed, she leaned on her determination and fellow Zwift community members to get her through this dark period.


“It gives me goosebumps now thinking about it,” she recalls with gratitude, “the people who came to ride with us from all over the world and made sure we were never alone.”


Diane shared the satisfaction of new and old Zwift friends as they achieved 100km and imperial century badges of their own.


Then the first standout moment.

Diane Letheren 1,000 Zwift KMs Screen grab

“At the 900km break I deleted the word ‘attempt’ from my name tag because I knew there was no way I wasn’t going to make the distance from that point onwards,” she asserts. Diane wasn’t aware that her BanditZ and HERD mates were rallying to share the moment.


Diane shares: “I can’t put into words how emotional it was starting that last session with so many riders alongside me. The last 100km went by so quickly, and all the discomfort seemed to disappear.”


The second was during the final 10km countdown.

Zwift screen

“The last 10km countdown felt like a real party atmosphere and celebration. It brings a huge smile to my face thinking about it and a feeling of pure joy.”


Two attempts and 32-plus hours later, Diane and her rolling celebration witnessed the fulfillment of a goal and the affirmation of undeterred belief.

Diane Letheren 1,000 Zwift KMs avatar
Diane Letheren 1,000 Zwift KMs companion app screenshot

Reflecting on the achievement afterwards, Diane says – “Whatever challenge is buzzing around in your head and it’s something you really want to do, then just do it. There will always be someone willing to help, especially on Zwift.”

Thank you, Diane! You've given us 1,000 reasons to agree! There doesn't have to be a limit!

Diane Letheren

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