PHOTOS BY Laura Pavlakovich - @yourejustmytype1
Type One Ragnar Relay Team
“Why am I doing this?” I asked myself from a motel bathroom, waves of nausea rolling over me as the thunderous snoring of one teammate battled in crescendo against the metallic squeaking bunk bed of another. But before I had a chance to consider this too deeply, the cacophony was interrupted by a frantic series of texts and calls. It was time for us to rally, and fast. Our team was ahead of schedule and the other runners were approaching the next major exchange point, somewhere in the pitch black night in Southern California.
We were running the SoCal Ragnar Relay, a race in which 12 runners spread across two vans each take turns to cover the 188 mile distance from Huntington Beach to San Diego, a continuous effort starting on Friday morning, going through the night and concluding on the sand at Coronado Beach the following evening. Drawing members from across the United States, we had cobbled together a team comprised of ten type 1 diabetics, two “type 3s” (type 1 diabetes (T1D) family members) and one service dog: “Type One Run.”
Most of us had absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into, with the exception of Randall, a 61-year-old we had found featured in Runner’s World having earned acclaim for doing more Ragnars than a reasonable person could count, and Jerry, who had stepped in at the 11th hour to replace a last minute dropout, and who shared Randall’s unquenchable thirst for challenge. Few of us knew one another beforehand, and our backgrounds and personalities were as varied as our ages, from millennials to baby boomers. We had a quirky grandfather, some boisterous young ladies who had met at Diabetes Training Camp, a young student nurse, a quiet Englishman, a marathon-running mother, a gun-toting hippie, an entrepreneur and finally recording it all was a diabetes podcaster (check out Beta Cell Podcast).
Here we all were, thrown into the closest of quarters, sharing a van together for 36 hours.
What could have ended in disaster turned out to be one of the most fulfilling, inspiring and downright fun experiences any of us could have imagined. Somehow, despite our differences, our van full of strangers immediately clicked, and it was as if we had known each other for years. We shared the challenge of diabetes, and particularly that of running with diabetes, and although each of us approached that challenge in our own individual ways, with different diabetes management strategies and communication styles, somehow coming together we achieved a diabetes harmony.
There were highs and there were lows, and there was laughter, sweat and more laughter, but for me what made this shared accomplishment so special was our mutual understanding of the unending silent challenge which type 1 diabetes poses to our minds and to our bodies every single minute of every day and night, without pause or escape. It was truly enlightening and inspiring to see up close and in-depth how others, each in their own personal and particular manner, integrate diabetes into their lives and have used it to foster strength, resilience, patience and grace.