Following my series of interviews with Kris Freeman, I got a note from competitive cyclist Phil Southerland, founder of Team Type 1. He wanted to let me know how well his group of athletes with type 1 diabetes have been performing so far this year.
Phil was concerned that the mainstream media coverage of Freeman's challenges may have stirred up "a lot of negativity about diabetes." So he asked me if he could submit a piece here to show that being prepared, and working hard at it, diabetic athletes can not only compete, but also WIN endurance sports. "I want to bring some positivity back to diabetes, and thought you could help us do it," he writes. All I can say is, MY PLEASURE. Please enjoy Phil's treatise today:
The 2010 bike racing season started off with a bang for Team Type 1. Matijn Verschoor won the first race in the 2010 Greenville Training Series closely followed by Justin Morris in 5th place, Olaf Kerkof in 9th, Joe Eldridge in 11th and Stradford Helms in 12th. While this would be a great result for any team this early in the season — it is even more exciting to see these athletes with diabetes perform so well in competition.
Winning with diabetes is arguably harder than winning without diabetes. Fueling for peak performance is one of the keys. It requires a plan to fuel before during and after a race that is part practice, part science, and part personal preference. I've seen some strange diets in the peloton. For all the gels and bars, there's always a PB & J in the mix for someone.
I think that it's a good time to have diabetes. The medical technology available to athletes with diabetes is the same for local amateurs to world-class performers in sports from baseball to bike racing. It can enable athletes with diabetes to stand on the podium. And we do.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring devices take the guesswork out of fueling for and during an event. My team is sponsored in part by the FreeStyle Navigator brand. Information from the device helps athletes make the right choice at the right time for what to eat to keep the pace up and stay strong. I encourage athletes that I meet to work with their medical care provider to discuss options specific to their unique needs and management plans that to help them achieve outstanding results.
The key to our athletes success is being prepared. Our guys know what to do if their blood sugar rises, but more importantly they ALWAYS have food on hand should they see a "projected low" glucose. Starting a race without spare food is like skydiving without a backup chute. That's why our athletes always go into races with plenty of Dex4 glucose (also a sponsor) — the quickest way to prevent and/or fix a low.
Team Type 1 has expanded to nearly 80 athletes across 6 teams in the past five years. We've had great results are raising awareness of what athletes with diabetes can accomplish. I'm excited to start 2010 on such a high note and continue to strive to put a rider with diabetes into the Tour de France.
That's a pretty lofty goal, Phil. If anyone can do it, you can!