Wednesday 12 June 2013

Roddy Riddle: A name you may want to note down...

If you haven't heard of Roddy Riddle and his amazing achievement yet, you soon will. 
Last year Roddy decided to prove that diabetes shouldn't stop you doing anything,- by running a marathon.  But not content with running a 'normal' 26.2 mile marathon (literally a walk in the park for our Rodders), he chose the Marahon des Sables (MDS) - no less than 150 miles through the Sahara desert. No mean feat, I think you'll agree.
Coming from someone for whom running out of wine is at the top end of the running I can do, I personally find Roddy's journey incredible and even when finished, hard to imagine possible.  

Insulin Independent last caught up with Roddy in the preparation phase of his monster diabetes challenge, when 50 mile runs in icy Scottish conditions were a drop in the ocean for a man who would soon jet off for the sand dunes of the Sahara.

Having now achieved what many could never even imagine, Roddy kindly agreed to pop by Insulin Independent again and share the rest of his inspirational story.  Check it out below.

A: Roddy, first of all congratulations on completing your challenge! Tell us a bit about it? 
R: The Marathon Des Sables (MDS) is classed as the toughest foot race in the World, it is 150 miles over 5/6 days depending on wether you complete the longest 48 mile stage in one day.

A: How did you cope with the temperature difference between Spring-time Scotland and the Sahara?
R: Although running in complete opposite temperatures in Inverness it was still mentally challenging which was something I required during MDS. I was Lucky enough to get access into Edinburgh Napier University's climatic chamber leading up to the start to help me get used to running in the extreme heat and also test out all my kit in heat.

A: What effect did that difference have on your diabetes and how did you manage that?
R: To be honest we didn't know what was going to happen when I went to the Sahara, Animas who make my insulin pump didn't know how pump would cope with the extreme harsh conditions.

A: How well did your training set you up for the real thing?  
R: My preparation was perfect, I was doing between 50-100 miles with a complete mix of terrain, some runs with full backpack to get used to carrying 10kg. The only thing I would do differently is I would train in a disused quarry to get used to running on sharp rock.

A: Any surprises when you got out there?  
R: The day before the race started we had to hand over our ECG and medical which my one had type 1 diabetic, this caused a great deal of concern to the doctors.  It took a fair bit of convincing from me that I wouldn't cause any problems to medical staff before they signed me off to receive my race number and timing chip.  Also the amount of sharp rock underfoot and the lack of wildlife, nothing there and I can understand why.

A: Tell us about the different stages? 
R: Stages varied in distance, stage 1 was 23 miles, stage 2 was 19 miles, stage 3 was 23 miles, stage 5 was 48 miles and the final stage was a traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles. The toughest for me was the shortest, I had a touch of vertigo before going to MDS, this stage knocked that into touch, it had 3 mountains with ridiculous drop offs and the final climb had gradients of 50%, as it turns out it was the toughest stage in the history of the event. Some cracking views during this stage. My blood glucose levels were between 3.7 mmol/L-6.3 mmol/L during the toughest stage which was reassuring.
Favourite stage was the longest as I ran it with Andy and Steve who were in the same bivouac as me. For 3 hours that day it wad 52 degrees and during that period a 10km section of savage sand dunes took us 2 hours.

A: You used an Animas Vibe insulin pump with integrated Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) during the challenge,  how much did that benefit/help towards completing the challenge?
R: It was a major help even with the 15 minute time lag, the trend arrows helped me control what carbohydrates I needed to take on board and also change my basal insulin requirements on the move.

A: How long had you been using them when you started the challenge?
R: I went on my insulin pump in October 2012 and trained a small amount with the CGM sensors due to the cost of them I don't use them all the time. I thought it was really important to have the CGM readings from the challenge to hopefully help diabetic specialists learn from my experience.

A: Were there any moments when you struggled to maintain focus?  
R: None at all, I was allocated sending one email each day but could receive unlimited emails.  The daily emails I received gave me so much strength knowing what I was doing was changing people's outlook on what can be achieved whilst having diabetes.  Knowing I was making a difference kept me going.  I even got an email saying what I was doing gave the parents of a 13 year old type 1 the confidence to allow their daughter to have a sleep over.

A: What supplies did you take with you to manage any hypos/hypers?
R: With being self sufficient during event weight posing an issue, the Glucagen hypokit stayed at home along with my ketone monitor. I carried my insulin pens in a Frio bag along with back up insulin and had a few spare cannulas, alcohol wipes and spare CGM sensor. I also had my OneTouch Verio IQ to do blood glucose tests and calibrate my Vibe CGM.

A: What food were you eating when you were out there?
R: I spent a lot of time and preparation on my food. Each competitor had to carry a minimum of 2000 calories a day I decided to carry 3055 calories per day, I had 3 x Wheetabix with 15g raisins, 25g macadamia nuts and 25g dried milk for breakfast.  Evening meal was Morrison's Utterly Nutty muesli with 25g macadamia nuts and 25g dried milk. I also had 2xPeperami and 3xsports protein bars.
During each stage my 1st drink was High5 extreme which had 47g Carbs and 150mg caffeine, my next 3 drinks were High5 energy+ with 47g Carbs and 30mg caffeine and my last drink was High5 4-1 which has some protein to help start the recovery process for the next days stage. Taking the extreme is the equivalent to taking 3 Proplus caffeine tablets - being type 1 this helps extent my carbohydrate stores for longer.

A: What would you say to someone who has heard your story, also decided that D shouldn't stop you doing anything and now wants a challenge of their own?
R: Basically having diabetes shouldn't stop you from fulfilling your dreams and to rule diabetes, don't let it rule you. Start by going to a gym.  This will allow you to gain confidence and learn what exercise does to blood glucose levels and if you do have a dip you're not halfway up a mountain and can go to kit bag to get some glucose drink/tablets.

A: What are your recommendations for anyone wanting to start their own sporting challenge?
R: Have goalposts that are achievable for each individual is completely different.

A: Other than crossing that finish line, what was your best moment out there?
R: Receiving the emails and they made me proud that what I was doing was making a difference like giving families with members who have type1 diabetes the to do exercise or have a sleep over at a friends house.

A: Finally, you kinda took on 'the big one' but are there any future challenges on the horizon for Rodders??
R: Can't say yet, but watch this space for more....

 And to see some of the highlights from Roddy's journey, check out his video:

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