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Mum with type 1 diabetes takes on long-distance running challenges for Diabetes UK

A primary school teacher from Derby is running the London Marathon to raise diabetes awareness, after doing a 24-hour running challenge with her husband last year and raising over £2,000 for Diabetes UK.

Sarah Branch, 34, was initially diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the Spring of 2019, but her blood glucose levels remained high after giving birth and she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes shortly after having her daughter Sophie in August of the same year.

“It was a huge shock as there is no history of diabetes in my family," Sarah said. "My glucose levels were very high in pregnancy and the doctors were quite intrigued so I became quite famous in the maternity diabetes department! Overnight I had to change my eating habits completely and it was extremely tough. As I knew my baby could be impacted, I made the changes, although that wasn’t enough and I had to go onto insulin.

"I managed to control my blood sugars well and had a healthy baby at full term. However, after the birth, my glucose levels did not return to normal and it was quite hard to hear that I had type 1 diabetes and needed to be on insulin for life. Management of the condition has been much easier than when I was pregnant. I do believe I am still in the honeymoon period!”

Careful planning and motivation to raise funds and diabetes awareness

Sarah’s husband Jonny decided to run the Robin Hood Ultra Marathon in 2021, running 100 miles and raising £2,420 for Diabetes UK. Then in 2022, the couple completed the Equinox 24, a gruelling 24-hour run in Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire. Collectively they ran 240km and raised over £2,000.

“We fundraised mainly through friends and family and social media. We found that setting up a Facebook group was really beneficial as we could upload posts about our training and the run. We could also then post our Just Giving link. We had a lot of support from Diabetes UK when preparing for the event and during the event. We received a video message a couple of days prior to the event which was really motivational for us!”

This year, the couple are running the London Marathon in April to continue their fundraising for Diabetes UK and increasing diabetes awareness. Like other runners with type 1 diabetes, Sarah has to do a lot of planning. She has adapted to life with type 1 diabetes and wears a Freestyle Libre 2.

I have to think carefully about what I eat, to ensure that my glucose levels don’t drop or spike. For Equinox, I prepared by trying to up the number of miles that I ran to get my legs used to running for longer periods of time, and I eventually got up to doing 12-mile runs.

"I definitely had a few disastrous runs with my diabetes when my sugars would drop and I would have to stop. The event itself was really enjoyable and I managed to do eight 10km laps, which works out at just under 50 miles in 24 hours. I ate little and often. I also had slightly less insulin than I would normally as I knew that I would be burning off the sugars throughout the day.”

If you are thinking of completing long-distance running, please discuss your individual needs and circumstances with your healthcare team beforehand.

Charlotte Wright, Diabetes UK Midlands and East Fundraising Manager said: “The Branch family have been amazing in their fundraising efforts, each time going above their predicted target. This shows the wonderful support they have around them from friends and family members who they keep updated about their challenges through Facebook groups. The money they are raising continues to support research and services such as our helpline and type 1 events provided by Diabetes UK. I am grateful to have been a part of their journey over the last three years.”

Are you inspired by Sarah’s story? Contact us to discuss how you can raise funds and awareness of diabetes:

To support go to Sarah Branch is fundraising for Diabetes UK (

For information on running and training plans go to:

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