The AlaskaMan Extreme Triathlon


Editor’s Note: Jesse Was Here—A Program of Beyond Type 1 was inspired by Michelle (Alswager) Bauer’s experience after her son Jesse’s death. Michelle’s unwavering commitment to the type 1 diabetes community + her support for others is the basis for this program supporting + building community for those who have lost someone to type 1.

SEATTLE, Wash. — You know you’re in for an extreme event when one of the FAQ listings on the event website states, “Wildlife Safety Tips.” That’s what Riding On Insulin’s own Scott Jozefowski read before signing up for the AlaskaMan Extreme Triathlon. AlaskaMan is different from other branded races like IRONMAN, because of the extreme levels the race entails.

Like IRONMAN, athletes swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles (or in this case actually 27 miles).

What sets it apart? It only takes a few minutes of reading the website’s FAQ to realize the elements are against you: “What type of wildlife is in Resurrection Bay?” The answer, “Here’s just some of the wildlife that calls Resurrection Bay (obviously there is more), in Seward, Alaska, home: Humpback Whales, Gray Whales, Minkle Whales, Fin Whales, Orca Whales, Dall’s Porpoise, Sea Otters, Sea Lions, Halibut, Salmon, Sleeper Sharks and more.”

Is swimming in Resurrection Bay dangerous? “Swimming in any open water is at least somewhat risky and dangerous. Resurrection Bay is vast, deep, cold and at times, has rough water (especially mid day).”

And if that isn’t enough once you exit the water, more danger lurks while you are on your bike and in your running shoes. The website suggests, “Bear bells, horns and spray to protect from the wildlife.” And that’s just the beginning of a grueling day of ice cold water, dangerous mountain climbs and no official race support.

Hundreds of athletes will descend upon this uncommon race (inaugural in fact), but what sets apart Jozefowski from the pack?  He is competing as an athlete with type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects 1.25 million Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In those with type 1 diabetes (T1D), the pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone necessary for survival and getting energy from food. Between only 5-10 percent of all diabetes cases in the United States are type 1, according to the JDRF (formerly Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).

Scott is part of a team of 100 athletes from all over the US, Canada and New Zealand called “Riding On Insulin” or “ROI Endurance Team.” The team consists of those with type 1 diabetes and those who support them. The team raises funds to send kids with type 1 diabetes to over 22 programs or “camps” throughout the world.

“Being part of the team is very rewarding from being able to connect with other adults with type 1 diabetes who are racing with type 1 diabetes, down to raising funds for more kids to find a sense of community with their disease,” Jozefowski said. “Both Riding On Insulin and ConnecT1D of the Pacific Northwest have been instrumental in getting me to the starting line.”

You can sum it all up when you read what the race organizers suggest for changing out of your wet and cold clothes. “This is an extreme triathlon. This means you make what you have work for you. Tough it out.”

If you’d like to follow Scott on his journey download the application “RaceJoy” and follow Race ID# 129921.

This post was originally published on Riding On Insulin – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2004 and based in Whitefish, Montana. With ski and snowboard programs across the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, ROI empowers, activates and connects the global diabetes community through shared experiences and action sports.

Read Riding on Insulin—Tips for Snowboarding and Skiing with T1D by Dustin Askim.

WRITTEN BY Michelle Bauer (Alswager), POSTED 07/13/17, UPDATED 10/12/22

Michelle has been a strong advocate in the “d” world since her son, Jesse, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2000 at the age of 3. After the sudden loss of her son at the age of 13, 16 years later she continues to advocate, educate and push the envelope in her son’s name. Michelle is the founder and executive producer of the documentary The Science of Inspiration: Diabetes and Athletes—otherwise known as “Triabetes”—about 12 athletes with diabetes completing an Ironman triathlon. Her diabetes credits include working as a moderator on the JDRF Online Diabetes Support Team, as an executive director for two diabetes organizations, as the executive director of the org that created Riding on Insulin with Sean Busby, and she also participates each year in the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes. She is currently a columnist for dLife, the number 1 diabetes-advocacy website as well as a new contributor to A Sweet Life. In addition to spending a lot of time on her road bike, Michelle is a two-time IRONMAN finisher (in fact she raced with the ROI Endurance Team at IRONMAN Wisconsin 2015). In her spare time she also works with other families across the world who have lost their children to type 1 diabetes. Michelle resides in Madison, Wisconsin with her children Samantha and Joey.