As I’ve mentioned in a few previous blogs, I’m a runner. It is truly my outlet for life, allowing the world to slow down and make sense, giving me time to clear my head and gather my thoughts, not to mention offering me a healthy activity to balance the challenges of being a dad, an employee, having diabetes, and any other role I periodically occupy.
Since 2000, I’ve taken on many challenges associated with running, completing races from as small as 5Ks to 100 mile ultramarathons. All have been fun and tested my will and endurance, but they have just been that: running. Within the past couple of years, I have noticed the wave of adventure races that have become popular. They go by many names —Tough Mudder, Battle Frog, Spartan — and they all are basically built around the same concept: running with an obstacle course thrown in. I’ve been intrigued by them but always a little fearful because they add in different elements you don’t find in regular road races, and that presents different challenges from a glucose management standpoint.
Finally, I decided to take the bait and enter my name in to participate in the Spartan Beast Race. “The Beast,” as it is known for short, is unique in that it is basically a half-marathon trail race with 30+ obstacles you have to navigate. Fun for sure, but very tough because it requires a lot of physical exertion with lifting, climbing, pulling, and carrying heavy objects along with the run.
My Beast Race was the Carolina Spartan Beast on October 30, 2016 in Winnsboro, SC at the Carolina Adventure World ATV Park. I arrived early and stuffed my fanny pack with CLIF® bars, orange juice, and my personal diabetes manager (PDM) in a waterlogged plastic case. I turned off insulin delivery for two hours so the race wouldn’t be affected by low blood sugars and made sure I had a light but decent breakfast of a banana and a Gatorade.
We started at 8:15 am with waves of 250 runners dressed to the teeth in moisture-wicking clothes and hydration units, jogging up, down and through the rocky terrain, climbing nets and walls, carrying bags of sand and containers of rocks, traversing across ropes and pulling bags of sand, vaulting across monkey bars and throwing spears. Real gladiator stuff, braving the elements of mud and rock and the heat of the day, pushing ourselves physically and emotionally to the limits.
For me, there was the added challenge of managing my blood sugar, and I believe I handled it the best I could, keeping insulin delivery off until about halfway through the race when I had built up a sugar reserve and turning it back on so I could burn it off in the second half of the race, which worked well. Four hours and four minutes later, I jumped across the fire pit signaling the end of the race and crossed the finish line, receiving my medal and basking in the glow of accomplishment in the Carolina sunshine. Another challenge met, another beast accomplished —pretty much like every day with diabetes.