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One Type of Runner: Local athlete overcomes diabetes

Vancouver woman with type 1 diabetes runs NYC Marathon

This past sunny November Sunday in New York City, 50,000 men and women started running.

One of them was Vancouver resident Kirsten Myers.

Facing odds greater than those of her fellow travelers, through her battle against type 1 diabetes, Kirsten Myers would run anyways; for her grandfather, for her community and for herself.

Kirsten’s grandfather, who also faced type 1 diabetes all his life, grew up in one of the very five boroughs she ran through along the race route.

Kirsten Myers trains for the 2018 New York City Marathon near her home in Vancouver. Kirsten lives with type 1 diabetes, while still maintaining a very active lifestyle. Photo by Mike Schultz
Kirsten Myers trains for the 2018 New York City Marathon near her home in Vancouver. Kirsten lives with type 1 diabetes, while still maintaining a very active lifestyle. Photo by Mike Schultz

At the age of 17, Kirsten was diagnosed with type 1, while an active member of her high school’s running program. She was tossed into the world of so many new diabetics; limitations, frustrations and a daunting future.

Even still, that world did not hold down Kirsten Myers, now 26, for very long.

She studied her disease on her own learning everything she could. She reached out to olympic skier, Kris Freeman who has overcome his diabetes. She threw herself back into athletics, as if there was nothing more natural in the world.    

“She proved all the naysayers wrong, she did it,” said Erik Myers, Kirsten’s older brother, who is also a runner. “You don’t hear a lot about athletes with type 1 diabetes. I hope [for] other type 1 diabetic children… she can say to them ‘anything is possible.’”

After being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 17, Kirsten Myers scoured the internet researching her new disease, in an effort to not allow it to limit her. Photo by Mike Schultz
After being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 17, Kirsten Myers scoured the internet researching her new disease, in an effort to not allow it to limit her. Photo by Mike Schultz

With a final run time of three hours and 52 minutes, and a finishing place just over 10,000 out of 50,000, Kirsten Myers completed the New York City Marathon.

Peter Helenius, Kirsten’s Uncle, said watching her run the New York City Marathon was quite a flashback to when Kirsten’s mother ran it in 2001.

“I’m just incredibly proud of her,” he said.

Kirsten said she went into the race with few expectations, and simply pulled motivation from her family and the memory of her grandfather.

Kirsten Myers, (center), is joined in New York City at the 2018 Marathon by her brothers Ian, (left), and Erik, (right). Photo courtesy of Kirsten Myers
Kirsten Myers, (center), is joined in New York City at the 2018 Marathon by her brothers Ian, (left), and Erik, (right). Photo courtesy of Kirsten Myers

“The race was just incredible,” Kirsten said. “I felt really good until about mile 18, 19, and then my blood sugar started dropping. Everyone says the last six miles is really challenging and you believe that, but then it’s not until you experience it that you realize how hard it really is.”

Kirsten ran with nonprofit Beyond Type 1, which is helping empower type 1 diabetics to believe they can still live active lifestyles and endeavours to find a cure for the autoimmune disease.

“I’m really glad I finished pretty strong,” Kirsten said. “It was a good race.”

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About The Author

Jacob Granneman

Jacob Granneman is a filmmaker and writer from Clark County. He is a recent graduate of Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College, where he studied media production. He has produced documentary stories all over the Pacific Northwest and in Argentina. His passions range from loving people, to cinematography, to going on adventures in the most beautiful place on earth, i.e. his backyard. He lives with his wife in Vancouver, WA.

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