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Running Helps Swansea Girl Rediscover Her Life Beyond The Numbers… of a Type 1 Diabetic

Natalie Holborow, aged 28, tells us her story of life as a type 1 diabetic, her running journey, and how she hopes to help Diabetes UK Cymru break the World record this June.  Natalie, a writer from Swansea, was diagnosed when she was just eight years old.

Natalie said;

“I’d been feeling unwell for a little while, then one day my dad found me drinking from the bathroom taps in the middle of the night. I was desperately thirsty all the time, which is a common symptom of Type 1 diabetes. 

“I try to be as positive as I can about life with Type 1 but it’s really hard. It can be overwhelming sometimes.  I’m always thinking about counting my carbohydrate intake, blood sugar readings and insulin units…Sometimes it’s hard to separate the person from the numbers. I just can’t remember what it’s like to eat something without worrying.

“But this is also why running is so important to me. It reminds me of what I am capable of despite all the challenges, and helps me rediscover the person behind the numbers.”

Natalie started running at aged 16 and in 2017 ran her first ever marathon in Edinburgh. She hopes her record attempt, with others (who will make up the strong team of Type 1 runners) will inspire others with the condition, as well as break down some common misconceptions.

Natalie continued;

“I hated running when I first started, but the more I did it and the further I got, the stronger I felt.  I also noticed my blood sugars were better if I ran before dinner. Now I’m proud to say I run nearly every day.

“Training for a race is hard enough without the balancing act that is Type 1 diabetes thrown into the mix. But I want to show people that it’s totally possible. If I had seen something like this when I was a frightened, newly diagnosed little girl I would have felt so much better about the future. There is so much talk about what you can’t do with Type 1 and so many horror stories in the headlines. It’s time to change that and start celebrating what we are capable of.”

Type 1 diabetes is a complex, lifelong condition where the body cannot produce the hormone insulin, which controls the amount of sugar in the blood. It affects around 19,000 people in Wales and must be carefully managed day-to-day.

Physical exercise can impact blood glucose levels; meaning people who have Type 1 diabetes must manage their insulin and blood sugar levels before, during and after exercise.

Dai Williams, National Director, Diabetes UK Cymru, said;

“Natalie’s attitude towards living with Type 1 diabetes sends an important message to others with the condition, showing that it does not have to hold you back. It’s fantastic to hear how much running has helped her to manage the physical and the emotional side of her condition and we’re delighted to have her on our team again this year.

In 2018 a team of 69 type 1 diabetics helped set the current record at the JCP Swansea Half Marathon in collaboration with  This year, they aim to beat this number by setting the World record of most type 1 diabetics to complete a half marathon together. Further to this, organisers have opened up FREE entry to the Family Dash for all type 1 diabetics in Wales under the age of 16, with the aim of inspiring the younger generation of type 1’s.

Dai, added:

“This is not just about breaking a record: we hope to inspire others and create a community of individuals like Natalie who understand the challenges of day-to-day life with Type 1 diabetes face and can support each other. We looking forward to cheering Natalie and all our runners across the finish line on 23 June.”

Diabetes UK Cymru has guaranteed charity places remaining for the JCP Swansea Half Marathon on Sunday 23 June. Places are open to everyone, so sign up and be part of a team to inspire others, where you too could be part of a World record-breaking achievement whilst raising vital funds for charity!

The JCP Swansea Half Marathon takes place on SUNDAY 23rd JUNE 2019 starting at 10 am from the iconic Brangwyn Hall, taking runners from the city centre, leading to the mumbles, along the beautiful sweeping Swansea Bay.  The course is perfect for first-timers, fun runners, charity runners and elites on its flat, fast course.  The route is well organised, fully marshalled and supported by spectators and bands to help runners on their way for a momentous finish at Swansea Museum.

For more information on the half marathon or to enter your T1 child in the family dash, visit: or contact the fundraising team on: 0345 123 2399.

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