Swim, Bike, and Run for a Cause Posted on September 1st, 2009 by

A participant in the Epsilon Pi Alpha hosted triathlon jogs his bike along the course. (Photo by Hanna Schutte '11)

A participant in the Epsilon Pi Alpha hosted triathlon jogs his bike along the course. (Photo by Hanna Schutte '11)

By Hanna Schutte ’11

Start with a 500-yard swim, take a 12.5-mile bike ride, and finish up with a 3.3-mile run. Not only is this a great way to get in shape, it’s also a way to support Insulindependence, a national cause dedicated to changing diabetic lives through fitness, adventure travel, educational outreach, and web-based community support.

On April 25, the Gustavus fraternity Epsilon Pi Alpha hosted a triathlon. This event was part of the fraternity’s Diabetes Week. The week began Sunday, April 20 with a banquet and silent auction, and continued all week with diabetes-related events. These included a Monday night event titled “Education Pie Awareness,” which featured speakers telling their diabetes stories, free glucose testing in the cafeteria on Tuesday, and a karaoke challenge on Wednesday. On Sunday, several Eppie members participated in the Minnesota Ironman—a bicycle ride in Lakeville.

The triathlon is the culmination of the Eppie’s Diabetes Week. This was the second year Epsilon Pi Alpha has hosted a triathlon. “Last year was a good learning year, and we’ve found ways to make things run better,” said Eppie member Andrew Michelson. Some of these changes from last year include chip timing and easier online registration.

Epsilon Pi Alpha was inspired to host a triathlon by of one of their former members, Peter Nerothin ’02, who was in attendance at the Gustie Triathlon to cheer on participants. After being diagnosed with diabetes during his time at Gustavus, he decided that his disease was not going to limit him from doing the adventure treks and endurance races he enjoyed. Instead, he founded Insulindependence, a program founded to “empower type 1 adolescents through adventure travel expeditions, teaching them the value of communication through positive and challenging experiences. Over the years, Insulindependence has expanded its mission to serve all people with diabetes through various types of fitness and adventure programs,” said Nerothin.

“Insulindependence has a variety of programs, ranging from working with physicians, to pairing with diabetic children for endurance race training, to an international running club. Insulindependence has served people from all over the world, from ages 8 to 61. At a typical event, a group of participants is surrounded by about 150 years of diabetic experience. You won’t find that in a doctor’s office,” said Nerothin.

Through endurance races, Insulindependence hopes to convey the message that “diabetes doesn’t have to be such a bad thing,” said Nerothin. With a growing network of support and an interest in supporting people live the lives they want to with diabetes, events like the Gustie Triathlon truly demonstrate what Insulindependence is all about.

Epsilon Pi Alpha had a good turnout for this year’s triathlon. “We had about 80-100 participants signed up. Throughout the whole week, we hoped to raise around $8,000,” said Michelson.

Participants worked hard to get ready for the event, and had good reason to do so. “I think it was important for me to help this cause because two of my good friends have type-1 diabetes. Plus, it was a good way to get myself to work out,” said Eppie member and triathlon participant, Billy Cuevas.

If you have never participated in a triathlon, or find the idea daunting, Michelson says the Gustie Triathlon is a great place to start.

“It’s a short triathlon, so if you are interested but unsure if you can do it, this is a great place to try it out and get some experience. You can sign up as a relay, as well,” said Michelson. Many first time tri-athletes were in attendance at Saturday’s event. The Eppies are planning on having the event again next year, so there is plenty of time to get ready.


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