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By Danny Ritz

When asked about a sequence of unexpected setbacks that sent many of her competitors home in frustration during a trip to Antarctica, where she competed in a marathon, Beth Sanden responded with what could be seen as a metaphor for her entire outlook on life.
“I mean, it’s Antarctica. You never know what can you expect.” Sanden said.

Sanden, a San Clemente resident for more than 30 years, will be the featured speaker at the San Onofre Parks Foundation Summer Lecture Series on Wednesday, July 12. Although anecdotes such as these will certainly be prevalent, “What to Do When Your Whole Life Changes in 60 Seconds” will offer more than a retrospective account of Sanden’s achievements.

In fact, Sanden tries to distance herself from the past.

“I’m really focused on paying it forward,” Sanden said when asked to summarize her driving motivation. “What a gift to be able to give mobility, to enable people physically as well as mentally.”

Beth Sanden prepared for the North Pole Marathon by training in the hills of San Clemente. Photo: Eric Heinz
Beth Sanden prepared for the North Pole Marathon by training in the hills of San Clemente. Photo: Eric Heinz

Since a major bike accident in 2002 in San Clemente that left Sanden with shattered vertebrae and paraplegia, her focus and motivation have defied medical expectations.

Sanden says that she’s “…done more since the accident than before it.” She has completed more than 69 marathons and 72 triathlons on all seven continents.

For most people it would seem difficult to follow in her tracks, but that is exactly what she plans on enabling people to do.
“I want to show people ethat there is a life to live after (suffering from) a disability,” Sanden said. “People with disabilities can live a life full of wonderful experiences.”
Bringing equipment to outposts across the world and providing physical and educational assistance, Sanden has focused on empowering people who want to continue prospering after suffering from a traumatic accident or illness.

Having traveled the world, spreading her message of hope and resilience, Sanden is quick to credit the invaluable support of her family, friends and community.
“The community and the willingness are there; we just need to capitalize on the opportunities,” Sanden said in reference to supporting our disabled local community.

Sanden will speak at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 12, at the Historic Cottage within the San Clemente State Beach Campground. The lecture series is put on by the San Onofre Parks Foundation and sponsored by Artifex Brewing Co. and BK Cellars. Refreshments will be available for the gallery exhibit and social beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available at

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