I've talked a few times about Run Across America and that Tom, along with 9 other Type 1 diabetics from Team Type 1 Sanofi will run from California to New York in 16 days. The run starts Thursday. Holy smokes.
I've added a banner to my sidebar. Once the race starts, you'll be able to track where the guys are. I'll be updating things along the way as much as possible too. Please keep these guys (and their families) in your thoughts as they embark on this amazing journey!!!
Marcus Grimm, one of the TT1-Sanofi members wrote a great kick off story about the adventure. Enjoy...
A Recipe for Success - Marcus Grimm
The first move is to start with a field of some of the top diabetic runners in the country. Truth be told, this is the “gimme” in our recipe, something the team has had for some time now. Many of the squad descended on rural New Jersey in March for an “Ultra-Fest,” which consisted of five races ranging from marathon distance to one hundred miles. By the time the runners left, Team Type 1 had representatives finishing no lower than 7th in any of the races, including a victory in the in the 100k (62.5 miles) and a second place finish in the marathon.
But because 3,000 miles is very far and because 16 days is very long, the runners have been chosen as much for what makes them different as for what makes them similar. In order to maintain steady pace, there are a few speedsters on the crew; guys like New York’s Matt Patrick, who hasn’t run a marathon slower than three hours in more than ten years. Patrick, Casey Boren, Kevin Powell, and Kona Ironman participant Ben Semeyn are certainly here because of their ability to pound out miles quickly.
But there’s more to the recipe than speed. There’s endurance, too. That’s why ultra-specialists like Jon Obst and Ryan Jones are on the team. Jones, from Morrisville PA, won a twelve-hour race on a very hot and humid Labor Day a little more than a year ago, covering seventy sweat-soaked miles along the way. Meanwhile Obst is looking forward to his birthday in January, at which time he’ll run one hour for each year of his life, just as he did last year (when he turned 28) and for the two years prior to that.
Experience is critical, of course, because no man on this team has ever run across the country before, but team manager Tom Kingery has raced across the country two times on his bicycle with Team Type 1, setting a world record in the process. Kingery was indispensable in this entire process, and if he’s only one cog in the wheel once the run starts, he was pretty much the whole engine in getting the run to this point.
You might look at a guy like Eric Tozer and feel that with just two marathons under his belt he’s a little green for this journey. But know this: his marathon a few weeks ago in Chicago was around three and a half hours, a full one hour faster than the one he ran in March. Plus, he’s young – barely 27 - and when you’re running 18 miles per day, young muscles recover faster.
Of course, we won’t mention young muscles to Tom Grossman and Brian Foster, both of whom have had diabetes about as long as Eric Tozer has been alive. These men will serve as the diabetic sages for the squad, simply because there probably isn’t a technique they haven’t tried in their own relentless pursuits to control a disease that for the most part, has little interest in being controlled.
Many cross country runs strive to have a doctor on the support crew, but with space at a premium, Team Type 1 upped the ante by including a diabetic runner who also happens to be a doctor. Dr. Chris Zenker’s duties, one could expect, might involve a bit more than delivering the requisite miles.
But the runners are just the beginning. The next move is to divide the roster into two units. Certainly, running ability is part of the recipe, but so is personality, as each of the groups will spend more than two weeks together, of which their time will be spent mostly running, or trying to be comfortable in the van.
With the squads divided up, the next move is to divide the country into more than 60 more or less equal chunks. Team A eats up miles for about 8 hours, and then Team B does the same. Rinse and repeat until California eventually gives way to New York. An RV also follows along, providing the runners with the comforts that can’t be found in the van.
With the runners and logistics taken care of, there’s still the matter of financing this dream, and for that Team Type 1 has their sponsors to thank. Drug company SANOFI is the team’s title sponsor and don’t think for a moment this run would happen without them, but they’re not the only ones. From the Newton shoes on the runners’ feet to the hundreds of Clif Bars they’ll consume and the sleek sunglasses courtesy of VSP VisionCare, if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes more than a few companies to get a team of diabetic runners across the country.
If there’s a secret ingredient in our recipe, it’s the spouses and loved ones of the athletes waiting at home. While a supportive wife might be a prerequisite, it wouldn’t hurt if you were lucky enough to be married to someone who qualifies for wings and a halo. From Jennifer Semeyn and Tricia Foster, looking after Ben and Brian’s young babies at home to Colleen Kingery, who’ll be watching over the family business while Tom is out, the sacrifices endured during these two weeks stretches far further than the soles and shins of the athletes.
Ironically, what our recipe doesn’t need is a nurse or an endocrinologist to monitor the blood sugars and insulin requirements of the runners. These athletes learned long ago that they each hold the greatest responsibility in controlling their diabetes. They’ll be their own guardians, even as they’re watching out for each other, counting carbohydrates, doing blood sugar tests and adjusting insulin intake as their bodies adjust to the pounding of each mile.
There is a joke among diabetics that used blood sugar testing strips – barely one inch long and only a quarter of that wide – have a habit of clinging to clothing and falling in the strangest of places. Expect that by the time the vans reach the East Coast, the floorboards of both vans will be littered with these strips, much like confetti, celebrating an incredible journey that has been years in the making.
About the Run Across America and Team Type 1:
Team Type 1 is made up of 100 of some of the finest professional and diabetic athletes in the world. Their mission is to promote wellness and achievement among diabetics worldwide. The Run Across America, a journey of more 3,000 miles, culminates on November 14, World Diabetes Day, in New York City.