Athlete with diabetes not raising any white flagsBy
Diabetes can alter one’s life, but scores of athletes living with diabetes demonstrate not only the will, but the methods to control the disease and write new rules of engagement. Jay Hewitt is one such athlete.
When Hewitt was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 24, he chose to challenge himself by competing in one of the most challenging events in the sporting world – the Ironman Triathlon. Not only has Hewitt achieved his goal of finishing an Ironman, but he has crossed the finish line more than 13 times, proving to people with diabetes everywhere that diabetes has not stopped him from achieving – and surpassing – his goals.
An Ironman Triathlon is a series of long-distance races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile marathon, raced in that order and without a break. Most Ironman events have a strict time limit of 17 hours to complete the race, starting at 7 a.m. The mandatory swim cut off for the 2.4-mile swim is 2 hours 20 minutes, the bike cut off time is 5:30 p.m., and all finishers must complete their marathon by midnight.
The name Ironman Triathlon refers to both the original Ironman triathlon and the annual Ironman World Championship. Also called Ironman Hawaii, the world championships of the event, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, are now preceded by a series of qualifying events. Ironman Triathlon became known for its grueling length, harsh race conditions and television coverage.
Hewitt is also a motivational speaker and lawyer. His message is enabling to others living with diabetes especially children and teen-agers.
Many athletes with type 1 diabetes refuse to let the disease dictate participation in either competitive or recreational sports. A nutrition management plan for training, competing or just play is critical, and should involve the athlete, the trainer or coach, healthcare provider, certified diabetic educator and registered dietitian.
- For more on competing and exercising with diabetes, visit What you need to know about exercise, nutrition and diabetes.
- Hewitt’s journey is detailed in Jay Hewitt: Envisioning the Finish Line.