Duncan's Extreme Ultra Marathons - AMSL Diabetes

Duncan Read

Duncan's Extreme Ultra Marathons

Meet Duncan

Duncan has been living with type 1 diabetes for over 30 years. He loves getting outdoors and keeping active, whether that be heading out for a jog, playing a bit of soccer or competing in ultra-marathons! We spoke to Duncan about his journey with diabetes, his experience with Dexcom G6 CGM and why he believes he is ‘fitter for having it.’

Q. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a regular bloke with a family, a ‘real’ job and a busy life. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) when I was 14 and so, over the last 30-odd years I’ve learned firsthand how T1D affects me.

Duncan speaking at the 2019 AMSL Diabetes Sports & Exercise Weekend about his journey with diabetes.

When I was diagnosed, the outlook for people with T1D was pretty grim. There were lots of stories about what you couldn’t do with T1D, there were foods you couldn’t eat, jobs you couldn’t apply for and sports you couldn’t participate in. Worst of all there were books and health professionals telling me how medical complications would affect my quality of life in later years. There wasn’t much good news about what you could do. There was no internet, there were no mobile phones and no social media pages telling of the adventures, sporting triumphs and positive achievements people with T1D were making.

In those days, you needed to inject 30 minutes before food and it used to take 60 seconds to wash and prick your finger and test your blood glucose level using a meter the size of a brick and test strips you had to rinse with water at the sink. In those days I dreamt about not having injections or blood tests and that someone would develop me a watch that would tell me what my BGL was, without pricking my finger….again!*

Duncan competing in 'Racing the Planet' 2019 in New Zealand.

I definitely wouldn’t say that I’m a professional athlete but I’ve done some pretty extreme sporting adventures. In saying that, I am just as happy falling asleep in front of the TV. Over time I’ve embraced sport and developed a mindset that uses having diabetes to my advantage. I’ve run through Australia’s Simpson desert, cycled over the Pyrenees in Europe and run up Queenstown’s (NZ) highest mountains. All to prove that I’m fitter for having it.

Q. Speaking of ‘fitter for having it’, can you tell us about your blog?

I started #fitterforhavingit because after living with T1D for over twenty years, I’d learned a lot about T1D that I wanted to share with other people. I’d also just run six marathons in six days through Australia’s Simpson desert to prove to myself that anything was possible with T1D – despite those talking about what you can’t or couldn’t do. As a result of that run, people living with T1D and a few parents of kids with T1D started contacting me to tell me that I’d inspired them to be more active or more positive. It was then that I decided to do more runs and share my experiences with others. From here, I started my ‘Fitter For Having It” blog.

Duncan wears the Dexcom G6 to manage his diabetes.

Q. How does Dexcom G6 help you stay active and manage your diabetes?

 Dexcom G6 has a couple of really good features that make my life and diabetes management just a little bit easier. For me, the best feature is the much simpler one touch applicator that inserts the sensor. I’m no longer tying myself in knots trying to get the sensor attached. It’s one simple push of the button. Also, the Dexcom G6 transmitter and sensor feels a lot smaller because it’s so slim compared to the Dexcom G5 Mobile, which I used previously. The slimline profile makes it feel like it’s hardly there! The longer sensor life and the reduced need to calibrate also make things easier day-to-day.

Q. How do the alerts and alarms help you day-to-day and when exercising?

The alarms, and the option to turn these to vibrate, is helpful when I’m exercising. I run quite a lot, so having the phone in my bumbag, rucksack or pocket while still having the ability to get my CGM reading on the move, makes managing my blood glucose levels during my runs much easier.

I’ve also found the rise and fall alarms, and alarms when my glucose level is outside my target range, helpful when I’m caught up in life and not thinking about diabetes, or at night when I’m tired or sleeping. Seeing trends and changes early allows me to act quickly if I’m going low. For example, I forgot to bolus for dinner the other night and within 30 minutes my phone was beeping and my rise rate was a clear sign that something was occurring. A look at my Dexcom CGM trend confirmed that I’d forgotten to bolus, so I was able to correct that much sooner.

Duncan is able to keep track of his levels at soccer with the Dexcom G6.

Q. Are there any other features of Dexcom G6 which have helped you manage your diabetes day-to-day?

The wearability of Dexcom G6 has helped, by being able to track my glucose levels on long runs or when I’m playing soccer without needing finger pricks*. BUT it’s the data and insights from CGM that blows my mind. Seeing a chart of my glucose levels over the last 24 hours, or periods when I am eating or exercising, gives me so much insight into the way my body responds to different foods, or types of exercise and stress.

I used to find my blood glucose started to rocket in the morning and I wasn’t sure why. At first I thought it was the dawn phenomenon but Dexcom has helped me work out that it only ever occurred after drinking several cups of tea – which I sometimes do before brekky. That pre-breakfast (and pre bolus) caffeine and milk in my white tea was causing the spike, not something else.

Duncan likes to wear Dexcom as he enjoys playing the detective that works out how his body reacts to different things.

Q. Do you have any tips for others looking into CGM?

I would say:

  1. Trial it – even if it’s just for a short period.
  2. Use the data to your advantage. Learn some patterns or keep records and work out how your glucose level responds to different things. Explore the data – and if you are like me, enjoy being the detective that works out how your body reacts to different things.
  3.  Speak to others – what have they learned from using CGM and what do they think.

Q. How would you sum up the Dexcom G6 in 10 words or less?
It is the dream I had when I was 14.

* If your glucose alerts and readings from the G6 do not match symptoms or expectations, use a blood glucose meter to make diabetes treatment decisions.

Duncan is an Australian Dexcom Warrior. For more information on the Dexcom Warrior Program, please click here

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL AND FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS FOR USE. Read the warnings available on amsldiabetes.com.au/resources before purchasing. Consult your healthcare professional to see which product is right for you.

Testimonial Disclosure
This testimonial relates to an individual’s response to treatment with our products and has been edited to ensure it is consistent with the products’ indication(s). The testimonial does not provide any indication, guide, warranty or guarantee as to the response other persons may have to the treatment. Responses to treatment with our products may differ. It is important to consider individual circumstances and consult with your healthcare professional before considering any changes to your diabetes management.
Dexcom, Dexcom G6 and Dexcom G5 Mobile are registered trademarks of Dexcom, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries.

“Dexcom G6 has a couple of really good features that make my life and diabetes management just a little bit easier. For me, the best feature is the much simpler one touch applicator that inserts the sensor. I’m no longer tying myself in knots trying to get the sensor attached. It’s one simple push of the button.”

Duncan's Extreme Ultra Marathons

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