There are some people who are placed on this earth do extraordinary things. They train, plan, focus and commit to sporting challenges that cause others to stand aghast, because the feats they accomplish seem impossible to many. And then there are people who take those challenges, wipe the floor with them and set the bar well above 'incredible'. I am not one of those people, but I know someone who is.
I met James Thurlow at the 2013 Animas Sports weekend. A bright, easy-going person with the ability to make you feel instantly at ease, James and I got talking almost as soon as we arrived. At the time he was using insulin pens to manage his condition but he was keen to start pumping asap because as the owner of Open Adventure, an adventure sports company, freedom and flexibility were key for him. We talked pumps, CGM and how to choose which system was best for him for hours. As the weekend drew to a close James even offered me his help and extensive mountaineering experience to 'climb a mountain', something I have wanted to do since my discovering my desire to lose weight and get active. When I heard from James a week ago to tell me about a sporting challenge he'd undertaken with a group of friends I was excited for him, but I couldn't have expected what he was about to say.
Coast to Coast is a 192 mile unsignposted walking route from the Irish sea in the West, to the North Sea in the East. It is a highly popular track with keen walkers and outdoor enthusiasts and a favourite notch on the belt for people who want to push themselves to new limits. The route consists of 12-stages, typically taking people a leg-battering but respectable 10-12 days to complete. This was the challenge James undertook, only with a massive, massive tweak: he completed it in just four days - one third of the time it takes even the most determined walkers.
James, supported by his team of friends and family, decided that unlike the usual approach of heading West to East he would go East to West, because James wanted to 'head home'; a motivating factor in the tougher stages no doubt.
Wearing a Medtronic insulin pump (which he started using just 3 weeks before the challenge) and a Medtronic Enlite CGM, he battled hypos, weather and rugged British countryside to bring his challenge 'home'.
Did he make it? Well, does James sound like the kind of guy who'd let a little thing like diabetes stop him?
Check out James' incredible journey here: