When it comes to physical endurance, Roddy Riddle doesn't know the definition of can't.
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 40, the former competitive cyclist and father of three from Scotland was determined to raise awareness of the disease that affects 347 million people worldwide and show that having type 1 diabetes doesn't have to derail one's personal goals.
Last year Riddle, now 46, completed the Marathon des Sables, a 155-mile ultra-marathon across the Sahara Desert that exposes its participants to some of the most extreme conditions on earth, including the course's rugged terrain and sweltering temperatures.
"I chose the toughest foot race in the world to show that type 1 diabetes shouldn't stop you from achieving your goals," says Riddle, who has partnered with Animas Corporation, part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies in our Diabetes Care franchise.
Riddle credits his ANIMAS® VIBE™ pump*, the first and only continuous glucose monitoring (CGM)‐enabled insulin pump system with Dexcom G4™ CGM technology** and ONETOUCH® VERIO® IQ Meter, with helping him stay on track of his diabetes during the six-day event so he could stay focused on completing the course.
"I am convinced it would be almost impossible to complete the Marathon des Sables without such modern technology available," Riddle says of his pump.
During the event, participants sleep in make-shift tents each evening after long days of logging mileage in the double-digits. The course includes both sweeping sand dunes and rocky ascents not for the faint of heart. The participants are responsible for carrying their own supplies and water for the week-long trek.
The days were long, the conditions were grueling and the physical toll at times was excruciating. But Roddy never gave up. Roddy finished 273rd out of the 1,022 entrants and in the process helped raise more than $35,000 for Diabetes UK and JDRF. But most importantly, Roddy says he was able to inspire others who have type 1 diabetes or have loved ones who do. As part of his journey, he chronicled his experience through a variety of social media channels, including his Facebook page and Twitter account, which prompted many to write to him with their own stories about type 1 diabetes.
"When times were really tough out on the course, these emails gave me the strength to power on knowing what I was doing was changing people's opinions," Roddy says. "Having type 1 diabetes shouldn't stop you from achieving your goals and ambitions in life."
* The ANIMAS® VIBE™ pump is not available in the United States.
** Dexcom G4™ is a trademark of DexCom, Inc.
From the 2013 Johnson & Johnson Annual Report