Last night was a really special evening for all of Team Born to Run, our supporters and friends, and the production team behind the Big Red Run, due to be held in Australia’s Simpson Desert in July next year.
Organisers and ambassadors told of their personal connections to type 1, legend Pat Farmer delivered a brilliant speech seemingly off the cuff and made me want to go run in Australia’s red centre, so it’s a good thing I already am : )
And the Born To Run Foundation was launched with the announcement that close to $100,000 in charitable donations have already been raised. We’re only halfway through the 4 Deserts Grand Slam and there’s plenty of running and media coverage yet to happen, so we’ll see how that goes over the next 9 months.
The next 6 weeks already loom large – 250km in the Sahara, 250km in Antarctica, then the individual battle of will that’s likely to characterise Coast2Kosci.
Here’s the speech I gave last night to open the evening. I think I only inhaled about half of it…
I’d like to welcome you all to the launch of the Born to Run Foundation and, of course, the Big Red Run, an exciting and charitable new running festival to be held in the Simpson Desert over Diabetes Awareness Week in July 2013.
As many of you know, this whole thing is the brainchild of Greg Donovan, mild-mannered managing director and self-confessed accountant by day, marathon running philanthropist whose to-do list has its own postcode by night and on weekends. By coincidence Greg’s life was touched by type 1 diabetes 5 years ago, as was mine.
When I first met Greg in December last year, it was to tell him that the best way to run 1,000km across vast wildernesses would be in Hoka OneOne, the running shoe brand I work for.
I had heard about his plan to run the 4 Deserts Grand Slam from my partner Jess, who may have mentioned something about penguins at the time, maybe even something like penguins, penguins, penguins, Antarctica, Antarctica, PENGUINS if I remember correctly.
But when a philanthropic dreamer who wants to run ultramarathons to cure his son’s type 1 diabetes meets a type 1 ultramarathon runner, of course they’re going to end up running painful distances in remote locations of the world together.
This is where I’m supposed to talk a little bit about running with type 1 diabetes, and not just running but running long distances – 60kays, 100kays, 160, and hopefully – when we get back from Antarctica in early December, 240kays.
So when I’m asked what it’s like to run distance with type 1, the simplest possible answer is ‘interesting’. I still learn new things about how my diabetes works almost every week.
Even writing this speech from the comfort of our couch at home I had a hypo, just from taking the wrong amount of insulin for the brilliant birthday cake Jess made for me.
That was from the comfort of home at a keyboard.
When I run all day in changing weather with a backpack, the things that make sense to me sound a lot like Red Bull’s space program to almost everybody else.
But should adventuring be left to people who don’t have to practise maths and science almost hourly just to stay healthy?
Should newly diagnosed children and even adults be told to expect less from life, and from themselves?
The long and heavy regrets of a life half-lived are every bit as threatening as the challenges we, as a team, face when we run 10 hours in thin air and baking 43 degree sun.
But the challenges we take on leave us dirty, sore, and grinning from ear to ear. No such chance by playing it safe. Yet that is still the most widely prescribed response to a diagnosis of type 1.
Play it safe, let life gradually pass by, hopefully you won’t get any scratches.
The diabetics who have inspired me have tried out for national marathon teams, mountain biked from Canada to Mexico, swum at the Olympics, and occasionally even run fast.
I even find courage in the story of a young man who loved to run, but died in his sleep at roughly the same age I was when diagnosed. His memory is carried by those who ran with him.
Next week when we run in the classically beautiful Sahara, we’ll be camping with a young type 1 who has successfully competed in Iron Man triathlons and summited Everest.
Closer to home, there’s another man who has inspired me to go harder for longer whenever possible. Endurance athlete, exercise scientist, and also type 1, Allan Bolton is the man I first contacted when a top sports dietician recommended him as the only man really in touch with the issues faced by a type 1 hell bent on running themselves into ‘The Zone’.
His altitude training centre keeps us running, and his understanding of diabetes and endurance running keeps me conscious, creator of exT1D, Allan Bolton.
If you’re thinking you’d like to run in Australia’s very earthy and emotional core, make sure to check out http://www.BigRedRun.com.au and if you think type 1 diabetes shouldn’t mean an end to anything, please chack out http://www.BornToRun.com.au