Nicky Arnold and Warwick Sickling tell us their Type 1 Stories

The iconic Melbourne Marathon, with all its varied distances and routes, was held on Sunday October 18th. HypoActive, as ever, had a number of type 1's out proudly wearing their Insulin Injected Engine® running singlets and boldly declaring that type 1 diabetes is no barrier to exercise, a healthy lifestyle and very real physical achievement.

We're proud of every one of them, but I'm delighted to have the opportunity here to post the experiences of two very different runners. Firstly, a superbly detailed, but highly emotive account from Nicky Arnold. Nicky has had type 1 for 35 years, this was her first full marathon and she raised over $3,000 for JDRF. Sheer brilliance. Secondly, we have the our Pres Warwick Sickling. This was his 43rd half marathon and he has given us his excellent Utter Nutter story, putting a whole lot of things in a different and illuminating perspective. 

Many thanks Nicky and Warwick and well done to all type 1's who took part in any of the day's events.

Take it away Nicky...

Melbourne Marathon report 2015

Nicky Arnold, Type 1 Diabetic – insulin pump with a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM/sensor)

I did it!

Aged 42, diabetic since I was 7 year old (35 yr diabetic). I ran my first marathon. I enjoyed most of it! I had one year of preparation. As Warwick told me, “training was far harder than the race!”

Here’s my diabetic journey on race day, including all my crazy thoughts of how I got through! I used my Medtronic pump with a sensor. The sensor gave me the confidence to keep running. It also gave me peace of mind to alert me with any hypos especially during running and overnight.

I woke at 5 am, BSL 10.4 mmol/L -  I had one English muffin for breakfast (my normal breakfast before any of my big runs), dialled it up the same, and corrected 10.4 and kept my basal rate the same. I knew I had to keep everything going the same as normal as race time wasn’t until another 2 hours away (7 am). Therefore I didn’t adjust any of my basal rates for this reason as well. (I found during long training sessions, I would reduce my basal rate half way through. That is, if I was running for 2 hours, I would turn it down one hour prior to running, then the active insulin was reduced 1 hour into my run.)

0630 14.0 mmol/L -  I corrected again. I had planned to have a banana before the race, but because my BSL was high, I decided not to eat it, and so just had 1/2 a gel and dialled that up. OK, let’s focus on running now, there is nothing more I can do but wait for 7 am start and wait for the insulin to work. It is amazing being amongst so many runners who all have trained and worked hard like I have. Loud music, motivator saying anything and everything to get us excited! 10 minutes before the race there is the national anthem. Oh, I have goos bumps! Then there is Rob Decastella on a high stage, giving us many tips to get through the race. This is so exciting, hurry up and start the race. There are thousands of us all ready to go.

My pump shows 17.0. Damn it, I haven’t even started yet. Count down begins! 10, 9, 8……bang, we are off!

That's Nicky in the blue top - not a type 1 Spidey

At 5 km mark, my pump shows 19.0.    #@%$!!!!!!!! Now I have dehydration to contend with, when I have hardly run anything. I correct again, knowing my BSL will drop quickly at some stage, but I wanted it down sooner rather than later, for me to be functioning better. I knew I had heaps of gels and glucose to address a hypo later, if and when it came. Just keep running. It will drop soon. Keep running. At each drink station, I walked through and had 3 cups of water. Although I am high, I feel good, in fact, I feel great. I am chatting to many people running who are interesting and entertaining to say the least.

10 km mark 14.0 good! I turn my pump down by 50% now. I had my gel and didn’t dial up. (I knew I had enough insulin on board)

15 km, 1 banana and only dialled up ½.

20 km feeling great. I have a pit stop with my support crew who had my BSL machine out and ready to go. BSL 7.6. I am happy! Another gel and don’t dial up. Keep running. I feel good! I’m not pushing myself for a finish time, I am running comfortably like I did in training. I just want to complete a marathon and say I’ve done it! I’m loving this! Everyone is chatting during the race and keeping our spirits up. ½ way!


I have the occasional phone calls from Rod (husband) checking in on me and what I need at my next pit stop. Also my girlfriend in Adelaide, rang three times throughout the race to make me laugh! These phone calls and my support crew (who I saw three times) were a great distraction. They are also a comfort to listen to my needs/enjoyment/pain! I certainly didn’t feel alone even though I had no one I knew running with me. Some drink stations have Gatorade, so I take one and a water at each stop. I don’t dial up the Gatorade.

30 km passes. My hip hurts! I see my family one last time until I see them at the MCG. More gels. And a small buddy bottle of flat coke to carry if I get low. Now up St Kilda Rd.

Keep going, 34 km. Only 8 km to go. I’m tired, feeling sore, but my sugars are around 6. Excellent! I am now looking forward to 35 km mark when I see my running /gym girlfriends. I hounded them before the race to make sure I stop to do a BSL at 35 km, not knowing what I would be like with dehydration and questionable sugars as I hadn’t run that distance in training (the furthest I ran was 32 km).

 I see my friends at 35ish km. how was I going to convince them I didn’t want to stop? I felt so good. My sensor was showing 6 and stable for some time. I didn’t want to stop. It would hold back my time! So with lots of banter back and forth, I gave them my sensor history of how good I was tracking, as they are pulling out my BSL machine from my back pack!!!! I tell them to keep running with me gals, just run with me and I’ll tell you all about how good I am! I think they finally accepted that I was talking sense and that as they said “I looked so fresh” they accepted that I must be ok!

So they did run a bit with me, it gave me a huge lift and I pushed forward even faster than normal! That was great to see them!

36ish km mark, I should have something to eat or a gel, I need to top up my energy levels, but I don’t feel like anything, I will feel sick! I think it’s time for some coke. I’m not low, just tired and flat after kicking in for a few km. I have 4 or 5 mouthfuls and hoped that would help lift me to the G.

37 km my heart rate is high, tired and so it’s time to walk a little (only a minute or two to get my heart rate down). Deep breaths and lets go again, just keep running!!!


38 km I notice I am passing so so many people who are all walking. I just keep running past them! It felt good to keep running at a strong pace.

I can see the MCG. Finally, only 2 km to go.

I’m under the stadium and then in, I’m on the hallowed turf. I’m running on the MCG. Wow, I’ve done it, just keep running around the G. I can see the finish line….

I pushed hard and finished strong. I felt great.

Now where is my family? I had 9 of them eagerly waiting for me. Rod said he was not far past the finish line (telling me before I entered). And then, there they are…….all looking at the entrance of the G still waiting for me to enter!!!!I had finished. No one got to see me run the lap of the G!!!!!

But, what an exhilarating run. I did it. I did it. I did it!


My pump showed 5.1 at the end. Awesome! Just amazing my diabetes worked so well. 4 hrs 50 mins of running. I am so proud!

It proved to me that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. When things are tough, just keep going! Diabetes doesn’t need to stop us doing anything!


And take it away Warwick...

In 2003, my wife of less than 2 years announced that she wanted to complete a half marathon. I was aghast. Up until that point in time, she had appeared to be a completely rational person. She then announced that she had chosen the half marathon she wanted to compete in - Budapest. (We were living in the UK at the time so it wasn't an enormous journey). I thought she was completely nuts and being the supportive person I was back then, nick-named her "The Utter Nutter". I acquiesced to Budapest though as it sounded awesome (It was).

At the time, I was running about 4 km each morning and enjoying it with no plans to increase the distance. A couple of weeks after she successfully completed the Budapest half marathon, in a fit of madness the night before, I decided to join my wife and her sister in a 10 km race - my first, in Cardiff. A big attraction was finishing in the Millennium Stadium, built for the 1999 Rugby World Cup. I enjoyed completing that and started training for and running 10 km races in the UK. Although I stepped up to a 10 mile race, I still thought half marathoners were utter nutters, and declined to join my wife and her sister in running the Paris half marathon in 2004. I instead enjoyed hot chocolate in a cafe while she and her sister completed it by running through an amazing thunderstorm.

Back living in New Zealand in 2005, I was starting to find 10 km events quite easy, and I began to consider training for a half marathon. 10 years ago last Friday, I ran my first. It was a small event in a rural town. Only 629 people took part, and most of them were competing in the 5 or 10 km events. Only 48 runners participated in the half marathon - I was number 24 across the line finishing in the top half - just!

I pushed the term "Utter Nutter" to mean those participating in full marathons, until in 2009 I completed my first. Utter Nutter for me now means someone who runs an ultramarathon, at least for now.

Today I ran my 43rd half marathon! In those ten years since I ran my first, almost half of that was prior to my T1D diagnosis and although I ran significantly more half marathons prior to my diagnosis than since (33 vs 10), that is more to do with becoming a father around the same time and the reduced time available to train and participate, rather than due to my diagnosis.

Today's was great. Very, very different to my first, with thousands of people competing, but I would never have believed when I ran my first that almost exactly 10 years later I would be mad enough to be running my 43rd. And today's was my fastest HM since moving to Australia almost 5 years ago.

But it's not about PBs. If it was, I would have quit long ago. I just love running half marathons. They don't demand huge amounts of time to train like a full marathon does, but they also can't be taken lightly, because when I do, I hurt for a week afterwards. I love the challenge that they pose and the sense of achievement I feel afterwards. I love the experience of telling the little voice in my head from km 16 onwards that tells me to start walking that I am not going to listen to it, and I don't.

At some point, I'll complete HM number 67 when I will have completed more half marathons post diagnosis than before. I look forward to that, not just because I'll be ticking off a milestone, but because it will mean I've had the fun of participating in another 24 events.

To those of you who have helped me along the way - Thank you so much. I never envisaged something as wonderful as HypoActive when I was diagnosed, and to discover it, especially the fabulous monthly Run Club has been so incredibly helpful, not just with dealing with the physical demands of training as a T1D, but also the mental and social. Thanks all of you for your support and encouragement.