Roddy Riddle

Roddy Riddle

Marathon des Sables competitor, father of 3 children & Animas Hero

Watch Roddy’s challenge.

When were you diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes?

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in May 2008 at the age of 40. I lost almost 3 stone in weight in 6 weeks, had a unquenchable thirst, was constantly having to go to the toilet and also had blurred vision. My wife Lynn did some research on these symptoms and got a Type 1 home self testing kit. I did that and it came up positive so I went to my GP who tested me and sent me straight to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

I had a chance to do some research into the condition which I’m embarrassed to say I knew nothing about and realised it was something that was controllable if you were willing to put in the work.

I’ve never let having type 1 change the way I live as I rule my diabetes and don’t let it rule me. My sport has always been cycling. And when I’m not cycling, I’m keeping fit, running the London Marathon. So I was completely unprepared for the news, that I had Type 1 diabetes. In fact, one of the first things my consultant told me at diagnosis was that my fitness had kept me going. Because I was in a bad way: my blood glucose level that day was 45.6mmol/L. The staff at the clinic were superb. They weren’t keen for me to start running or cycling at first, but after two months I was able to build my fitness back up.

My family and friends are very supportive in all the challenges I choose to take part in like running the Marathon Des Sables.

Why did you choose an Animas insulin pump?

Before I went to compete in the Marathon Des Sables I went on the Animas® Vibe® Insulin Pump and came off multiple daily injections. I choose the Animas® Vibe® Insulin Pump as it is waterproof but for me more importantly is the Dexcom G4® PLATINUM Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) feature. Having the insulin pump along with CGM definitely helped me compete in the Marathon Des Sables.

Roddy and his pump.

How did your Animas insulin pump change your life?

Having the Animas® Vibe® System has made doing my sports so much easier than it was on MDI. A great advantage I had running the Marathon des Sables with the Animas® Vibe® System is I only needed to calibrate twice a day.* This means I can calibrate before the days stage start and recalibrate at night.

The Marathon Des Sables is perhaps the toughest challenge I’ve taken on, but that only makes me more motivated. I did this to raise awareness for diabetes - not just Type 1, which I have, but also and perhaps especially Type 2. I want to prove to people that diabetes shouldn’t be a barrier to leading a normal life. The truth is, since diagnosis I don’t feel any different. Before every meal, at bed time and first thing in the morning, I prick my finger and test my blood. If I can give confidence to fellow diabetics that they can also do exercise, that’s job done for me.

*Additional calibration might be required in certain circumstances (Ref. The Animas® Vibe® Insulin Pump & CGM System Owner’s Booklet. P/N 410-298-50 Rev A. See p. 127).

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What sport do you practice, and how has the Animas® Vibe® Insulin Pump had an impact on exercise for you?

Having been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when I was 40, I fixed my sights at the end of 2011 on my biggest ever challenge. I decided to enter my first major post-diabetes event. And what an event! The Marathon des Sables in Morocco on 31 March 2013. It is a brutal test of human endurance and perseverance, with the sand of the desert arguably the toughest surface to run on. The six-day, 254km race across the Sahara Desert, billed as the toughest foot race in the world.

Roddy and his team on race day
Roddy and his team on race day.

It’s perhaps the toughest challenge I’ve taken on, but that only makes me more motivated. I did this to raise awareness for diabetes - not just Type 1, which I have, but also and perhaps especially Type 2. I want to prove to people that diabetes shouldn’t be a barrier to leading a normal life. The truth is, since diagnosis I don’t feel any different. Before every meal, at bed time and first thing in the morning, I prick my finger and test my blood. If I can give confidence to fellow diabetics that they can also do exercise, that’s job done for me.

What would you say to someone who has heard your story, also lives with Type 1 diabetes and now wants a challenge of their own?

Basically having diabetes shouldn’t stop you from fulfilling your dreams. Rule diabetes, don’t let it rule you. Start by going to a gym. This will allow you to gain confidence and learn what exercise does to blood glucose levels.

What advice would you give someone who has just been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes?

My advice is it shouldn’t stop you achieving your goals in life. “Rule Type1 diabetes, don’t let it rule you”