Next month will see 26 people – including 19 that live with type 1 diabetes – climbing Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for JDRF.
Philosophy and Spanish student Imogen was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2007. Hailing from Newbury and our youngest participant, the 20 year old explains to JDRF why she is seizing the challenge and useful tips on how to train for an adventure like this.
‘With long university summers, I decided I should do something meaningful with my time and thought that raising money for JDRF and climbing Kilimanjaro would fit the bill! I must confess that I signed up rather naively, having never done any mountaineering before until I started my training.
‘I’m sure acclimatising to the altitude and temperature up Kilimanjaro is hard for anyone – let alone if you have to manage type 1 diabetes too. What will be tough both physically and mentally is when we have to walk for 17 hours through the night to reach the summit – in temperatures that may go as low as -30C.
‘I’ve learnt when I’m hiking that I require up to 90 per cent less insulin, so I’ve had to do lots of training walks to find out what works best for me. I also need to snack a lot, not only to keep my sugar levels up, but also to replace all the energy I’m using up. Well-fitting boots are vital too – the last thing anyone needs are blisters ahead of a long day climbing!”
Offering her advice to others that plan on doing a similar challenge, Imogen said: ‘Book it, go for it and get stuck in. I could have worried about this trip (and believe me I did!) to the point where I could have backed out. But I know it’s something I’ll look back on and be proud of my achievements.’
She added: ‘I’m most looking forward to spending time with other type 1 diabetics and facing the challenges climbing Kilimanjaro presents as a team. It’s silly but I’m just as excited to be playing cards in the evenings and chilling out as I am reaching the peak on summit night. The climb will bring us all together amazingly as a group.
‘We’ll probably be having a celebratory meal on the last night – it might just be the best meal of my life!’