Diabetes and Ultra Marathon

As promised, for the dedicated type 1 runners out there, here is my PowerPoint presentation from HypoActive’s AcT1vate 2013, at which I had the great pleasure to present a talk on the thrilling adventure of running ultramarathon with type 1 diabetes.

Anybody opening this and asking, “what does this guy know?” has a point. Every single person pushing any limits with type 1 is learning different things about their own body for that very reason – it is their own body, and type 1 diabetes is full of surprises. It can behave differently under identical circumstances for different people.

I know at least that much.

pre-dune-atacama-long-day.jpgManaging the tricky balance of the body’s energy needs, enhanced effects of insulin, unpredictable advent of nausea, and other basic biochemistry under several hours of exertion is never completely simple, but it does get easier with practice.

And that’s the biggest hurdle – without the encouragement and sometimes without even the support of your diabetic clinicians and educators, the first steps toward many thousands of steps can be extraordinarily difficult to take.

Here is the presentation and I welcome any questions which any type 1 diabetic starting along this brilliantly coloured and exciting path may have. Thank you to exT1D‘s Allan Bolton, my most frequent and reliable source of insight on this journey. Allan’s considerate enough to have made a bunch of mistakes so we don’t have to. Big thanks also to Marcus Grimm and Missy Elvin Foy for their expert insight and inspiration. And of course to Born to Run Foundation. Our Atacama adventure in 2012 caused me to cancel last year’s presentation, but more than made up for it with a slew of photos and stories for this year’s.

Thanks also to the whole HypoActive crew for a great weekend, and especially Gary Scheiner, excellent company in any depancreatised situation. Despite all the other great little situations we had over the weekend, I remember going for a short run with Gary, in search of koalas and Skippy. With no signs of wildlife, we returned to the conference. After getting our sweat off and prepping for the next stage of the day, Gary turned to me and simply said, “It just feels better, doesn’t it?”

Yes. Yes it does.

Type 1 Diabetes & ultra running draft 1 open show

...BIG medals, and giant grins!
…BIG medals, and giant grins!


7 thoughts on “Diabetes and Ultra Marathon

  1. I am fascinated and thrilled to read about the adventures. I took two years to train for the 25th running of the Marathon des Sables, which was 3 years ago. Being over 50, a long term type 1 and not a regular participant in ultra marathons (this was first one), the officials were very cautious before they let me enter. But they did and it was a life changing experience for me. Sadly I only got to the end of day 3, because I discovered through the extreme conditions that I also suffer from hypokalemia. I didn’t know before then. That took me out of the event coz I hadn’t adequately prepared for the full affect. Quite awful to be honest.
    I hope one day to win lotto, then I’m on that plane and doing it all again. We can do anything; we just have to know we can and work harder than everybody else.

      1. That name doesn’t ring a bell, but then my memory isn’t too good. There was a fantastic young runner from Springvale area and another fellow from around Officer in Victoria. Now that I think about it, the fellow from Springvale may have been Stuart.

        I would give my eye teeth to be able to give it another try. This time I’d take adequate electrolyte replacement. I was looking like the lady marathon runner in the Rome olympics.

      2. Stu’s a fast mofo with a rich Scottish accent, and was from Victoria at the time.
        He mentioned to me ages ago he’d been in a tent at MDS with a Type 1 who has trained mostly power hiking and I think got pulled midway.

      3. Yeah, that sounds like him. I didn’t get pulled; I actually chose to pull out as I knew that I couldn’t finish without enough of the electrolyte supplements. So many times since I have wished that I simply kept going until they ran out. I would have at least been able to finish the 80km stage. The timing was all wrong. The doctors came over the sand dune right at that moment, my head was in a whirl with everything, it was 50+C and I’d just figured out that I didn’t have enough.

        One day when I win lotto I’m back there.

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