On January 31, Eric Tozer will go where no one with Type 1 diabetes has gone before: around the world in seven days, running seven marathons on all seven continents.
The San Diego native and JDRF Ambassador has been training intensively over the last six months, running between 30 and 90 miles a week. But the main event, the 2019 World Marathon Challenge, will be even more grueling at 183 miles.
That event begins in Novo, Antarctica, with further marathons in Cape Town, South Africa; Perth, Australia; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Madrid, Spain; Santiago, Chile; and Miami, Florida. Participants are flown in a charter plane between locations.
In preparation for this demanding physical feat, Tozer has been working closely with his endocrinologist to make sure his blood glucose is well monitored and controlled as he competes, as noted in a JDRF press release.
Learning how to control his diabetes while running long distances was as much a part of the training process as the usual athletic preparations, Tozer says.
“Just as I practiced running and building up my mileage every week and every month, I also needed to simultaneously practice my diabetes management,” he notes. That meant “knowing that my insulin ratios might change, how my basal amounts need to fluctuate.”
Tozer views the World Marathon Challenge as an opportunity to build on an athletic career, including as a college soccer player, that began before he was diagnosed with diabetes at age 22 in 2006.
“When I was diagnosed, I didn’t know what it meant for me as an athlete, as a person with this new disease,” he says. “But early on, I made the decision that it wasn’t going to stop me from continuing to live an athletic life. To make it fit my life, as opposed to letting it define my life.”
While it complicates the logistics of running multiple marathons, Tozer views having Type 1 diabetes as an asset in building up the mental fortitude needed to complete an event like the World Marathon Challenge.
“An event like this, so much of it is mental strength,” he explains. “There’s the obvious physicality of it, but mental toughness is where I think Type 1 actually gives us an advantage. Because every day we’re faced with this challenge, and we can’t quit.”
And Tozer is excited about the prospect of showing — and possibly expanding people’s view of — what people with Type 1 diabetes are capable of achieving.
“I want to show people that Type 1 doesn’t define us. It doesn’t limit us,” he says. “I feel really lucky to have this opportunity.”
Feeling inspired by Eric’s story and interested in starting your own exercise program? Read “Making Exercise Fun,” “Add Movement to Your Life” and “Picking the Right Activity to Meet Your Fitness Goals.”