Adventure Roundup: Christopher Fernando
Spartan Race warrior and conqueror of obstacles
Home Base: Bakersfield, California
Diabetes: Diagnosed with type 1 at 6 years old in 1991
Treatment Tools: Insulin pump
The Start of It All: A fluke led Christopher Fernando to his greatest love. His dad had signed up for a January 2014 Spartan Race but couldn’t run due to an injury. He asked his son to take his place in the 4.5-mile race under barbed wire, through mud, and over hurdles and flames. “I hated every second of it,” Fernando remembers. “It took me two hours and 36 minutes to finish. I was physically and mentally destroyed. But I got the medal, and that inspired me to sign up for the next race.”
Down and Dirty: Spartan Races cover hilly terrain and can be as long as a marathon. On the course, Fernando brings a hydration pack with energy chews, a vial of insulin, reservoir, battery, and extra infusion sets to prepare for any issues he might have. When running through water or crawling through mud, he sometimes relies on special waterproof plastic bags (such as those available from Aquapac) designed to keep pumps dry. “They seal the pump from water,” he says. But for more treacherous obstacles, such as deep water or barbed wire, he often detaches his pump, finishes the obstacle, and then runs back to reattach—all while the clock is ticking.
Overcoming Obstacles: Some people ask Fernando if he’s scared, or if diabetes should prevent him from competing. It’s the opposite, he says: Racing has helped him lose 85 pounds. Along the way, diabetes taught him “if you want to do something, do it, and adapt,” he says. “I have a friend who has spina bifida—she crutches through the races. Step outside of your comfort zone. Get out there, give it your best, and you’ll be surprised.”