GREENWICH, Conn. – Katha Diddel-Warren packed more life into her final 12 months than most people do during their entire lifetimes. The Greenwich triathlete and businesswoman died Tuesday at age 56.
Diddel-Warren suffered serious injuries in January during a skiing collision in Utah. Friends also learned recently that she had been battling cancer for two years.
“I was not aware she had cancer,’’ said Greenwich’s Karen Brown, who is a member of the Greenwich Triathlon Club with Diddel-Warren. They occasionally trained together at Elite Health Services. “I sat next to her on the bike, and she was so thin, I thought something might be going on. But she was very quiet. It’s pretty upsetting.”
Diddel-Warren was a nationally-ranked triathlete who represented the United States in World Triathlon Championships in 2012. She finished the New York City Marathon in November.
“When we went to Auckland, I thought she was doing fantastic,’’ said Greenwich’s Karen Newman, who also represented the U.S. in the race in New Zealand. “We socialized a little bit. She was happy, she was always doing something fun.”
Diddel-Warren married David Sussman in June. In the past 12 months, she also started a charitable fund at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for Genome Research. She went kiteboarding in October, competed in the Tour de Greenwich in September, rode her bike on the Cape Cod canal with her daughter and traveled extensively.
“She lived life to the fullest,’’ Brown said. “She never had a bad word ever. She’d work out during the day, work at her business, and then be out late every night of the week. I can’t do that. She had a love for life that not many people have. She had so many friends. It’s just a horrible loss.”
Diddel-Warren’s passion for life was evident in her competitive nature. She reached the podium in her age group at the Westchester Triathlon for five straight years, won her age group at the popular Falmouth Road Race several times and was third in her age group at the Escape From Alcatraz, an event that attracts many top triathletes, in 2012. She was also ranked nationally among the top 100 in her age group for several years.
“She was a great competitor,’’ Newman said. “She was a great cyclist. She loved competition and she fought to the very end.”
“I love the outdoors,’’ Diddel-Warren said in an interview with Daily Voice in 2012. “And I really love the community that you meet through marathons and triathlons. There is a lot of joy in the sport, and it’s nice to wake up each day and know that you have training to do. I can’t think of a better way to start the day.”
Brown said Diddel-Warren was also extremely close to her three children, Paul, Thompson and Kiki. “She was proud of her kids, and she had a special bond with them,’’ she said.
Diddel-Warren also had a passion for business, and was the chief executive and designer at Katha Diddel Home Collection, an importer of handmade needlepoint home furnishings and accessories. She graduated from Brown University.
According to information on her Facebook page, Diddel-Warren suffered her skiing injuries in January in Alta, Utah. She endured five surgeries in six hospitals when a member of the ski patrol collided with her. She returned to her home in New York in late February.
In 2009, Diddel-Warren joined Newman, Brown and Darcy Ramsey for a Greenwich Magazine picture that featured the four women triathletes. Three of them have been diagnosed with cancer.
“We all stood on this beautiful strip of land here in Greenwich and had this wonderful article written about four amazing triathletes,’’ Newman said. “And three of us had cancer. It’s just bizarre. I still can’t get over it.”