"I have been an insulin controlled diabetic since I was about 16. I am now 34 and in March took part in a trail plus event in the Lake District which is a mixture of extreme off road running and cycling.
The event was called 'Cumbrian Commotion' which started with a 2.5K forest run followed by a 18K plus off road mountain bike route, then a further 6K off road run, 1K kayak and to finish a final 3K off road trail run to the finish.
The event started at 10am and we had around a 45-minute drive to Grizedale forest as we stayed in Keswick. I got up around 6.30am and had a breakfast at 7am to allow time to digest before the ‘pain’ began. At breakfast I took 10units of my fast acting insulin - that was all I wanted to take all day until the event was over as I knew my blood sugar levels would fall ‘naturally’ with the exercise.
The distances don’t really do the course justice. As it was in the Lake District in Grizedale Forest it was very hilly and rocky whilst the temperature hit 21 degrees. I am of medium fitness and it took a non-stop effort of around 4 ½hrs - it is so far the hardest physical thing I have done in my life.
I am not trying to blow my own trumpet as there were others who took part who far out did my finish time, but the reason I am did it was to prove to myself I could compete and finish this challenge without my diabetes being a hindrance.
Before starting my blood sugar levels were around 8mmol. We then set off on the first run of around 1.5m starting with a steep hill climb and then an off road rising gradient hill climb. We then returned to the transition area to collect our mountain bikes for the 18K off road circuit. This probably took around 2 ½ hours. I had a camel back (back pack with liquid sacks for hydration) with two sections - one with 1.5L of water and the other had 2L of Lucozade sport. The water was to keep me hydrated and the Lucozade I used to keep my blood sugar levels up. I also had three sports gel sachets in case of emergency.
The Lucozade kept me going through the bike ride. When we returned from the bike ride to the transition area before starting the next 4m run I checked my blood sugar level which had fallen to 2.8mmol, I then ate three bananas, drank around 200ml of Lucozade and began the run.
Although I still had the feeling of low blood sugar I then used one of my sports gels which saw through the run to where we then had a 1K kayak. After the kayak I used the last of my sports gels during a hill climb which gave me a boost and confidence that I had enough in reserve to finish (just). It was around 4.5K run back to the finish, before completing a small assault course and over the finish line.
I had been training for a few months before the event, running around 4 miles, one to two times per week. Evidently this was not enough preparation for what was to come.I did mentally question myself if I could complete the last third, but I managed to push on and complete the course. I’ve now got the bug. I am planning on entering next year’s event - I am also planning on doing a 10K in June and another in September . My message is to continue pushing yourself as hard and as far as you can."