Former Grand Forks Red River runner Broden Diederich finishes Boston Marathon a year after brain surgery

Apr. 15—GRAND FORKS — Broden Diederich hadn't run a marathon before, but after running cross country at Grand Forks Red River and with the Run Club at the University of Minnesota, he figured in the fall of 2022 that he was ready to attempt one.

The then 19-year-old wanted to have fun during the Minneapolis marathon and see how well he could do.

"I ended up absolutely killing it," he said.

Diederich finished in 2:52.29, over seven minutes faster than the qualifying cutoff for the Boston Marathon.

When he realized that, he decided he "couldn't really pass up the opportunity to run Boston," he said.

Running the iconic marathon became a goal, but one that was pushed back after Diederich found out he needed brain surgery.

Diederich returned home for Thanksgiving months after finishing the Minneapolis marathon, and he had a seizure.

Doctors found a cavernous malformation on his brain, a cluster of blood vessels that cause blood to leak or clot. Diederich was put on seizure medication because doctors determined the lesion wasn't in a critical area.

Diederich went rock climbing a few months later, and he had his second seven-minute long seizure. He returned to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Doctors said they prefer to not operate on people as young as Diederich but decided it was the best plan to stop the seizures from becoming a recurring issue.

Diederich ended up undergoing brain surgery on his 20th birthday.

He hadn't yet signed up for the Boston Marathon, but qualifying times are only valid for a year. If Diederich didn't sign up for Boston by Sept. 15, 2023, he'd have to run another marathon to requalify for Boston.

"If I didn't manage to make it this year, it would have been a bummer for sure," he said. "But I was just going to do what I had to do. If I had to run another marathon, I was absolutely going to try to do that because I'd already proved to myself that I could."

That reality was in the back of his mind as he recovered from surgery and took five months off from running.

Eventually, he ramped up his training again. Tests didn't indicate any risks for Diederich, so he ran like he had for years prior to surgery.

His training included a few long distance runs per week, between 14 and 18 miles, in preparation for Boston, knowing the distance would prepare him for the grind at the start of the race.

It paid off, and Diederich crossed the finish line on Boylston Street in 3:25.33.

"I really just wanted to get back to a point where I could have a moment to prove to myself that I've overcome the brain surgery and these low points and not running," he said. "Running is something that I've always done since middle school, high school, just a way for me to decompress and just relax from some of the other things — all of my classes, work and internships in the summer.

"Getting to Boston was one step, but now actually carrying it out and finishing it is a whole other step that really means a lot to me and everything I've been through so far."