Friday 23 November 2012

The toughest race on earth

Fund raising of any kind is newsworthy, whether you choose to do a sponsored silence or jump screaming from a plane.  But gone are the days when shaking a charity money-box is sufficient to have the world empty its pockets for a good cause; now, we want action. Some spend days in the kitchen creating the delights which will bring in those pounds at community bake sales, while some hold music events or auctions or walk for miles.  The world is your oyster.  Anything goes and for the charities you support, your efforts are their lifeline.

With an impressive sporting career as a top cyclist of his own, it was no surprise to me that my friend and go-to-guy for cycling advice, Roddy Riddle, had chosen to do something sporting for his money-raising efforts.   But what he was doing, I was to discover, was beyond anything I could even comprehend. Sandwiched in-between major events in his life, like being manager to the Braveheart team at the opening of the new Sir Chris Hoy velodrome in Glasgow, he is also training for the toughest race on earth for charity, the Marathon Des Sables.  

Marathon Des Sables or MDS, is a six-day, 156 mile race, with the longest stage being 57 miles long.  As if that wasn't challenge enough, this race doesn't take place in the ambient temperatures of Bognor Regis, no, it is hosted by the Sahara Desert.  And Roddy is running this race to raise money for Diabetes Charities JDRF UK and Diabetes UK.  Oh yeah, in case I forgot to mention, Roddy is a fellow T1....

Here is what he has to say:

Firstly, congratulations on your recent success as 'Braveheart' Team Manager at the new Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome!  How did that feel?!
It was a great buzz being involved in the 1st competitive event at the new Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, this was topped off by being the manager of the Braveheart team which included young John Paul, Jason Quelly and Sir Chris Hoy himself

When did you first realise you had a love of sport?

I took up cycling when I was 13 years old and started racing when I was a year older, racing for Scotland and GB along the way.

How much has exercise played a part in helping you manage your diabetes?

Exercise is the one of the best forms of medication available. It helps me keep my blood glucose levels under control with the use of less insulin.
Exercise also helps keep my weight down and makes you feel good about yourself.

What made you decide to take on the Marathon Des Sables?

I choose the hardest foot race in the World to show that having diabetes shouldn't hold you back, if me competing in the MDS gives other people confidence to even start a small amount of exercise, it's made it all worth while.
What does your training involve?

My training involves doing a lot of back to back long runs over a mix of terrain with a weighted rucksack on my back to simulate what I will have to carry during the MDS.

Has diabetes ever posed a challenge to you in your training?  If so, how do you overcome those challenges?

I always carry glucose tablets during any of my training sessions just in case my blood glucose levels were to dip.  I do a lot of blood glucose testing before and during longer runs.  During the MDS I will be using a continuous glucose monitor to help assist me manage my diabetes while I am running.

So, how can people sponsor you and keep up to speed with your journey?

I am raising money for JDRF UK and Diabetes UK
You can follow my progress on


  1. tracy.rose@healthline.com4 December 2012 at 19:23

    Hi Anna,

    We were wondering if you could include as a resource on

    Healthline provides a very comprehensive overview of Type 2 Diabetes as a critical starting point for individuals and/or their loved ones.

    For more information, visit:

    Thank you in advance for your consideration.

    Warm Regards,


  2. Awesome collection.. Some really inspiring, colourful designs!!