Plano man raises diabetes awareness in run across Texas
An ultra marathon runner with Type 1 diabetes will make Midland-Odessa a checkpoint as he embarks on a journey across Texas.
Don Muchow started his route on Sunday in the heart of Downtown El Paso, San Jacinto Plaza, and will finish the 850-mile endurance event on April 18 at City Hall in Texarkana. He said his number one goal is to spread awareness and connect those with Type 1 diabetes to resources and the T1D community.
“It was very frustrating for him early on and we learned a lot of things the hard way,” Leslie Nolan, Muchow’s wife, said. “He always wanted to find a way to help people like him specifically who wanted to do something but didn’t know how to do it safely and were holding back out of fear.”
Muchow is 57 years old and said in the 70s many people with Type 1 diabetes were discouraged from exercise due to the dangers it presented for those with the disease such as hypoglycemia, which results from a very low level of blood sugar and can lead to seizures or loss of consciousness.
At about the age of 40, Muchow sought to regain control after facing serious diabetic complications of his own, including diabetic retinopathy.
The National Eye Institute’s website states diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes.
“Leaving that untreated was not an option,” Muchow said.
He said a “do-over” for his health began with walks with his wife and added mindfulness of the micro-decisions diabetics make throughout the day regarding food and blood sugar levels.
“It’s like walking on a tightrope,” Nolan said. “If you’re trying to maintain tight blood sugar control, something like deciding to walk a few more loops at the mall because your teenage daughter wants to do some shopping could be enough to cause low blood sugar because you didn’t anticipate the extra activity.”
Muchow had been running for a decade when thoughts emerged in his mind to take his exercise regimen further.
“I started to think what would happen if I pushed the distance as far as I could go,” he said. “I found that this is an area where there weren’t a whole lot of diabetics that had done that and it kind of attracted me to super long distance running because I wanted to know what were the special challenges that people like me have to face to do something like that.”
What started off as the beginning of a do-over and lifestyle change eventually turned into a part-time job where Muchow has racked up thousands of miles.
Last year he ran 339 miles across Iowa and is using the Run Across Texas event as preparation for his 2020 goal: Run Across America.
“Looking back on Run Across Iowa there were definitely times when I felt like it was more challenging than I expected,” Muchow said. “I feel like if I can meet just one person who walks away from it and says I didn’t realize I could do this then I would feel like I made a difference.
Nolan is the crew chief of the operation and will be supporting Muchow throughout his entire long-distance run.
Her roles include route and pacing management, driving the support van, administering medical aid and working with Muchow on food preparation.
The duo anticipates on arriving to Odessa late Monday evening and taking off in West Odessa down 42nd Street on Tuesday morning. The route will avoid Highway 191 and take West County Road 122 toward Midland. Full details of the route can be viewed online.
Muchow said he is looking forward to connecting with people in Midland-Odessa while incorporating some sightseeing into the route like the University of Texas of the Permian Basin’s Stonehenge replica.