May 12, 2015

Racing with Type 1 Diabetes: Shelby Daniel

Post by Alex Brown

It should have been her first day of 7th grade, but instead, Shelby Daniel was in the hospital.

Shelby’s life changed drastically when she was suddenly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at just 12 years old.

She spent a week in a children’s hospital when her pancreas quit producing insulin and her immune system began attacking her own body. Her biggest concern was that she might not be able to continue living the athletic lifestyle she had grown to love.

But Shelby quickly learned how to monitor her blood sugar levels 15-20 times a day and take insulin shots 4-6 times a day. Within a week, she was running cross-country and playing competitive softball again.


When Shelby asked her mom Stephanie if she could run a Savage Race, Stephanie hesitated. In Stephanie’s words:

All I could think about was how in the world I would be able to manage her blood sugar numbers during what was sure to be a grueling physical challenge. In a regular 2-3 mile run, her blood sugar can drop from upwards of 200 (which is her recommended blood glucose level prior to exercise) to dangerously below 40 without warning. Add in adrenaline, ice water, and physical exertion and all I could think about was a blood sugar nightmare that could take overnight to resolve itself, not to mention germs and dirt and mud and muck and scrapes and cuts – on an already compromised immune system.

But… how in the world could I be the one to tell her NO? How could I tell this small, headstrong, hard working, kick-ass, yet quiet, humble, physically active little beast of an athlete that there would in fact be some limitations in her life? If she didn’t see walls, why should, why WOULD I even consider being the one to put them up? We double-checked with her endocrinologist and he saw no issues. And if anyone is Savage enough to run the Savage Race – she certainly was. She is. And she proved just that.


Shelby successfully completed Savage Race Georgia in some of the muddiest conditions we’ve ever had at a Savage Race. Not only did she complete all of the obstacles, she tackled Colossus twice with the help of her fellow Savages on the course. Running alongside her dad (until she raced ahead without him) and stopping to get her blood sugar levels checked every mile and a half, Shelby overcame a serious physical limitation and proved to herself and many others just how determined and capable she is.

Shelby shares, “When I asked my mom to sign up back in November, I thought she would say no because she is always worried about my blood sugar and when I run long distances it sometimes goes dangerously low. But she said YES. And even though I run a lot, I know that if I can do this race, no one else has a reason not to.”

ShelbyWith an amazing “can-do” attitude and the heart of a champion, Shelby never complains about having to take insulin shots or monitor her blood sugar. She still pushes her athletic limits as much as she ever did, and being diagnosed with this life-changing autoimmune disease has not slowed her down one bit.

“The mental toughness contained in her 89 pounds of muscle rivals that of the strongest man I have ever seen,” shares Stephanie. “And most importantly, she proved to herself – and to others, and to Type 1 Diabetes, that while the process of HOW she does things in her life may be changed and sometimes challenging and a little different than it is for other people – her life holds no restrictions. And that, to me is what being SAVAGE is all about.”

We can’t wait to see Shelby this fall at Savage Race Georgia, where her goal is to complete the race in under 2 hours. Thanks for inspiring all of us, Shelby!

4 Responses to Racing with Type 1 Diabetes: Shelby Daniel

Proud Savage Sponsors