Skip Navigation | Using this site

Scott Newburn, Type 1 and a BG

Some 25 years ago I was working as a volunteer instructor at YMCA Lakeside – I was pretty fit and along with a good friend Ian we took on some big days in the hills – I was a proper novice which huge amount of enthusiasm and an old pair of road shoes which I’d already taken a hacksaw to to give myself a little more grip.

So on a wet day 25 years ago in Kendal I popped in to Pete Blands the legendary fell running shop and bought a pair of walshes – friggin wrecked my feet they did :-) I was also after a rucksac to run with and was told all I needed for running in the fells was a bumbag (there was not a rucksac in sight in the shop).. I was put in my place, but in an age with no internet – I spotted a small green booklet on the Bob Graham Round and spent my hard earned cash (I was on £40 a week!). I’d heard of people who had done it but at the time not met anyone. Secretly I thought another year in the Lakes it be cool to have a crack at it – it was not to happen.

This almost short story was an amazing read – Bob Graham in 1932 set out with a friend (who he later dropped) to cover 42 lake district peaks in 24hrs. He actually walked it, but I suspect swiftly and with purpose. He completed the round in 23 hrs 39 mins starting and finishing at the moot hall in Keswick.

The irony is no one believed him and it was some 30 years before anyone attempted to recreate his feat. And today despite featuring in many glossy magazines and subject of a few films the number is little more than a 2000. A rough estimate is only around 50% who set off from the Moot Hall make it under the 24hrs. And under 24hrs is the objective – there is no big smiles and well dones if you are a minute over.. you just have not achieved it and all who attempt it know the score.

Back in the 1932 when Bob Graham did his round, as with many diseases the prospects were not good if you had type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is where your body stops making insulin and today whilst it can be managed there is no cure. Without insulin your body slowly poisons itself and even today where insulin is available there are horror stories of Type1’s being denied this life saving drug. In 1936 Lily took on the mass production of insulin.. but in the dawn of a world war this was still not easily obtained.

For those type 1’s who were able to get insulin – it usually followed with a strict diet, and its only in the last 10-15 years where type 1’s are not only told they can exercise but encouraged to do so.

Exercise is not without both risk and challenge – insulin is administered by understanding the balance of blood sugar and what you are eating with a vague factor relating to the amount you are exercising. As the author of this article I’ve been type 1 for 6 years.. the aim is to keep my blood sugars between 5 and 9 pending on what I do. A custard cream can push me from 4.5 to 10 – you can guess what a pizza does.

With exercise I’ve seen my blood sugar drop from 16 to 3.5 in a 25 min hard cycle ride. Under 5 you are not supposed to drive, under 4 I’ll probably be sitting down, yet over 13 your performance as an athlete drops. So in the context of going up and down mountains for 24hrs, adding in the usual challenges of fatigue and sleep the whole idea of a type 1 doing something like the Bob Graham round almost seems too ridiculous to consider.

This weekend at 11pm on Friday Scott Newburn a Type 1 for much of his life will be standing beside the Moot Hall in Keswick looking up at Skiddaw, with a nervous smile. Scott has the experience and the love of the fells to make it. He has a small insulin pump connected to him pushing insulin in all the time, along with a continuous glucose monitor that will alarm if he is too high or too low. All the tech doesn’t replace being fit and having the right attitude but it can help.

You can track Scott Live here

I know of only one other Type 1 who has done this Jim Evans.. if you know of others love to hear and meet them.. inspirational people.

PS I should add although “Pete Bland” shop is in the same place.. it is very different and does now have 3/4 running tights and rucksacs for those who want long days in the hill – and really is a great place to buy kit.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.