Thursday, July 12, 2007

Joslin Diabetes Camp Biathlon - July 7, 2007

I just got back from camp! Camp Joslin, in Charlton, MA, a boys camp run by the Joslin Diabetes Center. So much fun! I felt like I was 11 years old again. Camp Joslin is a fantastic place exclusively for boys age 7 to 15 with type 1 diabetes, with multiple two week sessions from May to August. The camp has been operating on this property since Dr. Elliot Joslin purchased the land in 1948. Campers can just be a kid for 2 weeks, having fun with other boys with diabetes, and learning how to control and live well with it from knowledgeable counselors, staff, nurses, dieticians and doctors from the world renowned Joslin Diabetes Center. It doesn't get any better than that!

I was there to inspire and educate the kids, but I think they inspired me more. I spent Thursday and Friday getting to know all 61 kids in the camp, challenging and encouraging them to "send the message to diabetes that it's messing with the wrong guy" by completing the first ever Camp Joslin Swim-Run Biathlon on Saturday, July 7. After 2 days of stories about my Ironman racing with diabetes I think they were ready! I was thrilled that a record number of campers attempted the 1/4 mile practice swim in Putnam Pond the day before the race, some as young as 7 years old who had never tried it before!

The big race was Saturday morning before lots of camp alumni, special invited guests and even some parents. We ran it just like a "real" biathlon. (We would have had a triathlon but not enough bikes :( No worries, this was a blast!) Race bib numbers, timing chips on their ankles, arms and legs body marked with their race numbers, and 2 age-appropriate courses laid out and run by a professional race management team. Short course was a 25 yard swim in shallow water and a 1/3 mile run around the camp. Long course was a 1/4 mile swim in Putnam Pond and a 3 lap run totaling approximately 1 mile.
Race morning the campers were a mix of excited, fired up and maybe a little nervous (but no one admitted that, right?). I had challenged them all to "reach the Finish Line and prove diabetes would not stop them." It did not matter how fast, just push themselves and race their best!

I have to say I've never had so much fun! 60 out of 61 camps signed up and they all finished! Some said they never thought they would ever be able to do something like that. Their expressions and pride at the finish was all I needed to see.