Type 1 and the Sahara… – by Roddy Riddle


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January. New year, new you? Many of us plan to do more exercise, get fit, lose weight… There are many events you can get involved with to improve your health (and help raise money for us!) that don’t require Herculean efforts, but we wanted to share one such amazing undertaking that one of our supporters, Roddy Riddle – who has Type 1 diabetes – is involved with. Read on to find out what he’s up to.

I am an ex international cyclist who after a successful racing career (which include highlights of finishing 9th in the 1994 Commonwealth Games, breaking Graeme O’brees Scottish 1 hour record and racing all over the World) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 40 years old, that was just under 5 years ago.

I class myself as a lucky diabetic, two reasons really, 1st my pancreas didn’t retire on me when I was a child unlike many other type 1 diabetics and 2nd because my diet was always strict throughout my racing career I didn’t find the transition to living with diabetes a major stumbling block.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes I didn’t know much if anything about the condition which I am embarrassed to admit and think it was shocking really.

I wanted to make amends for my lack of knowledge of diabetes when I was first diagnosed and so decided I was going to do something to raise as much awareness for diabetes and along the way raise some money for Diabetes UK and JDRF UK.

I chose the Marathon Des Sables to do this…

The Marathon Des Sables is a 6 day running event which covers 155 miles through the Sahara desert in April and is classed as the toughest foot race in the World. The race can reach temperatures up to 50 degrees and each competitor is self sufficient apart from collecting rationed water at check points throughout the event, this means carrying all your own food, sleeping bag, medical supplies etc to last the whole event in a backpack.

I have been very lucky in that I was accepted NHS funding to move from insulin pens to an insulin pump which I started on a Animas Vibe pump in early November, the timescale for this was perfect to get me up to speed with any possible issues before I head into the desert.

Due to the high mileage I am doing in training (up to 100miles a week) I was very susceptible to getting hypos with the insulin pens regime, I can gladly say even doing 30 miles running in a day the pump has severely reduced this.

During the actual race itself I will also be using the Dexcom G4 continuous glucose monitor system, this will allow me to see blood glucose trends as I am running reducing the number of stops to test on my One Touch Verio IQ blood glucose monitor.

If my competing in the toughest foot race in the World gives confidence to anyone with diabetes that they can do even a small amount of exercise in a week then my mission has been accomplished!

We wish Roddy all the best in his incredible efforts! If you’d like to sponsor his incredible feat, you can do so via his JustGiving page. Not everyone can manage such a mammoth task – but there are smaller challenges you can set yourself to help look after your health. We have a selection of fundraising opportunities on our site that you can get involved with. Good luck!

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This is an amazing read and very inspiring. I myself have type 1 diabetes and run marathons etc but this is really taking it to another level. Good luck, all the best and take care out there.