The Mountain as a Metaphor

It was a hot and humid morning on Kennesaw Mountain; they were on their 5th of 8 climbs for the day accompanied now and then by the familiar sounds of a Dexcom and the rhythmic pound of trail shoes.   Surprised hikers going down call out to them on their way up, “WHY are you doing it again?” they asked. They were 15 weeks into a 20 week training schedule preparing them for the 29029 Everesting endurance event in Whistler, British Columbia.  Their “Why” is T1D and that mountain is a metaphor.

GA/SC Chapter Board member John Hanson and Breakthrough T1D supporters Robby & Kim Kukler first met during Breakthrough T1D Ride training in 2018. John, diagnosed at 11 rode at the front of the pack combining Ride training with triathlon training and accomplishing both with ease. Robby and Kim, who’s son Sam was diagnosed in 2015 were looking for a challenge and a community of positive T1D thinkers and found both in the Ride program.  Like Ride, 29029 is more than an event, it’s an experience, a community – a group of like-minded people ‘forging themselves through adversity’.  “Ascending 29029 vertical feet over 32 miles and 36 hours feels  just as daunting as when we contemplated our first 100-mile Breakthrough T1D Ride in Amelia island” said Kim, “ but the training, camaraderie and a shared mission made it feel possible – we are channeling that Ride mindset for 29029.”

Why take on this Everest-sized challenge?  “For our 5th Ride we wanted to elevate our fundraising message to honor our son and our T1D friends” said Robby; “we wanted our donors to understand that T1D is hard and you have no choice but to wake up every day ready to climb that mountain – we needed to “do hard things” and walk the talk – adding 29029 Everesting to our century ride gave us the perfect message.”  John, who had previously trained with 29029 Everesting coach Brent Pease as a triathlete knows what climbing that proverbial mountain feels like and was ready to take it on, saying “I want to show other T1D’s that there is nothing holding you back from accomplishing big goals. It also helps keep the blood sugar in line” and so team training began!

Daily workouts plus hydration and fueling protocols are designed by 29029 coaches to prepare participants for the grueling event. It starts out relatively easy, daily 30-60 minute easy runs or hikes accompanied by hip mobility exercise and alternate day strength training.  Halfway into the 20 week training program, however the time and energy required for each daily workout rises considerably. 250-500+ box steps followed by incline treadmill work, stair climbs, outside run segments, 8-hour hikes and 90-120 minute cross training sessions now fill the week with 1 rest day thrown in for recovery.

The trio is taking training (and fundraising!) seriously and by putting in the work expects to be ready to take on Whistler’s Blackcomb Mountain on September 16th. They hope to raise a combined $30K for Breakthrough T1D and will be dedicating each ascent to friends, family and Breakthrough T1D supporters and posting their progress on FB.

(Note: GA/SC Chapter Board member Lisa Klumok was originally signed-up to participate with Robby, Kim and John but suffered an injury during training and has had to reschedule her participation to 2023 – we wish her a speedy recovery!)