Every year I volunteer Communications at the New York City Marathon. (I’m at Mile 20, usually around the medical tent.) Our medical/first-aid stops are headed up by seasoned medical doctors, and staffed by one or two more younger doctors and a bunch of medical students… many of whom are too early in their training to have had any education about diabetes. This is usually not an issue – in my over 15 years volunteering, I can only recall one diabetes-related incident.

Last year we had a runner on MDI who’d bottomed out early in the course, took in carbs to correct, and ended up running over 500 mg/dl and ill by the time he got to Mile 20. He had a meter with him, but his insulin was back at the race finish. The med tents do not stock insulin. The runner had to be evacuated to a neighborhood hospital – which entailed a bit of time to get the ambulance through the crowds and back streets to and from the medical tent. Compounding the issue was the fact that the runner was from another country. (Fortunately, he spoke enough English to understand and be understood, and our medical staff could also communicate with the runner in his native language.)

In light of this, I would suggest that insulin-dependent marathoners carry meters and some basic information on your condition (normal blood glucose ranges for you through the course, normal corrections for you through the course, etc.) in the language of the country in which you are running – just in case. Also, your usual fast-acting insulin and/or a spare infusion set.

The New York City Marathon is on November 1st this year… I’d like to keep the count of diabetes-related incidents at 1, total.

thanks for volunteering. I have been a trigeek and diabetic for 12 years now and for the first time bonked badly at a race two weeks ago. i got complacent and didn’t bring my meter and didn’t check my sugars just before the race and ended up having to DNF in the race I sucked up a couple gu’s but was too freaked out to finish.

Excellent advice, tmana.

For myself, I wear a med alert bracelet. I carry glucose tabs, gu and a 50-50 mixture of water and gatorade. I carry a meter - the One-Touch Mini is ideal for carrying while exercising.