Diabetes Forecast Spotlights the Serious Competition of Team Type 1

Alexandria ,
August 18, 2009

Professional athletes with diabetes have become more visible lately, but rarely do they embark on sporting endeavors to showcase their diabetes.  The cyclists of Team Type 1 do exactly that.  The September 2009 issue of Diabetes Forecast, the consumer magazine of the American Diabetes Association, features the story behind Team Type 1, from a burrito bet to aspirations of competing in the Tour de France.

It was at a collegiate race that the two founders of Team Type 1 first met, initiating a friendship after Joe Eldridge noticed another cyclist, Phil Southerland, checking his blood glucose. Because they both attended southeastern universities, they ran into each other often at cycling events. Eldridge, who had been diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 10, had allowed his management of the disease to slip low on his list of priorities. Southerland, who had been diagnosed at seven months, noticed that his friend wasn't checking his blood glucose and proposed a bet: whoever had the highest blood glucose after a race would buy the other dinner. "For about three months, I bought a lot of burritos, and he ate for free," says Eldridge.
After college, Southerland started thinking about ways to use cycling as a platform to help raise awareness and inspire other athletes with diabetes. He called Eldridge and proposed the two form an eight-person relay team for the 2006 Race Across America—a 3,000-mile race from California to Maryland. This was the original Team Type 1, which completed the race in less than six days, winning the eight-person division, but missing the overall fastest time by three minutes. The following year, though, Team Type 1 won both prizes, setting a record by riding across the country in five days, 15 hours, and 43 minutes.

Team Type 1 has since expanded and now has professional men's and women's teams, a triathlon team, and, new this year, Team Type 2, which is made up entirely of athletes with type 2 diabetes. Team Type 1 members who have diabetes spend their non-racing time visiting diabetes camps and events to inspire children with diabetes to be active and aim for their dreams. The athletes on the team who do not have diabetes learn a lot about discipline from the cyclists with diabetes. Part of their training even includes wearing a continuous glucose monitor to track how different types of foods affect their blood glucose.

As the team has expanded, so have its goals. Southerland and Eldridge want to see Team Type 1—and specifically an athlete with type 1 diabetes—participate in the Tour de France by 2012. It is a lofty goal, but not at odds with everything they've accomplished already. "Five or ten years ago, doctors were telling people [with diabetes], ‘You can't compete in sporting events,'" says Southerland. "We want to show people that with good control, diabetes isn't your crutch—it's your strength."

Also in this issue of Diabetes Forecast:

"People who live with diabetes are a special breed of people," award-winning entertainer Ben Vereen tells Diabetes Forecast in an interview. "We are a loving, caring family. And we're looking out for one another." Diagnosed in 2007, Vereen has embarked on a cross-country tour called Take the Stage for Diabetes (in tandem with his concert circuit) to raise awareness, talk about diabetes, and encourage people to take the first step in recognizing their diabetes as an opportunity. "We're not suffering from diabetes," he says. "We're living with diabetes."

The September issue also brings:

  • The Science of Carbs: Sugars, starches, and fiber, from molecule to meal
  • Better Beef: How to get the most out of the meat you're eating
  • Gotcha Covered: Your skin is your largest organ and your first defense against infection—here's how to keep it healthy

Diabetes Forecast has been America's leading diabetes magazine for more than 60 years, offering the latest news on diabetes research and treatment to provide information, inspiration, and support to people with diabetes.

About the American Diabetes Association

Nearly half of American adults have diabetes or prediabetes; more than 30 million adults and children have diabetes; and every 21 seconds, another individual is diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The ADA drives discovery by funding research to treat, manage and prevent all types of diabetes, as well as to search for cures; raises voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and works to safeguard policies and programs that protect people with diabetes. In addition, the ADA supports people living with diabetes, those at risk of developing diabetes, and the health care professionals who serve them through information and programs that can improve health outcomes and quality of life. For more information, please call the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit diabetes.org. Information from both of these sources is available in English and Spanish. Find us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn)