Annapolis, Md. – Team Type 1 rolled onto the Annapolis, Md., City Dock early Friday morning as champions of the eight-person team division of the Race Across America (RAAM).
The athletes on Team Type 1 – all of whom have Type 1 diabetes – won the non-stop, transcontinental race in record time. They completed the 3,021-mile (4,861 km) distance in five days, nine hours and five minutes after starting Saturday afternoon in Oceanside, Calif.
Their average speed of 23.41 mph bettered the 23.24 mph of last year’s winner, the Norwegian Byggkjøp presented by BMC Cycling Team, which completed nearly the same distance in five days, nine hours and 43 minutes.
At 2:38 a.m. EDT, Team Type 1 riders Jeff Bannink, Simon Bennett, Alex Bowden, Matt Brooks, Tom Kingery, Lonny Knabe, Bob Schrank and Mark Suprenant were recognized on the victory podium to the cheers of a large crowd of supporters that included the team’s founder, Phil Southerland.
Schrank, the RAAM team director, teamed with Southerland and Team Type 1 co-founder Joe Eldridge in 2007 when Team Type 1 won its second straight eight-rider RAAM team title. Last year, Bowden, Brooks and Suprenant joined Schrank on the squad that finished as runners-up.
“This is the biggest one for me by far of the three years I’ve done this,” Schrank said. “It seemed to have all the right pieces seemed to fall together. What was great was how well the team conducted itself in the face adversity.”
That bad luck included a grass fire in the Arizona desert that destroyed a minivan, an RV that had its transmission go out in Utah and a crew car that ran out of gas – all within a 24-hour span early in the race. The team is also on the lookout for Suprenant’s Orbea Ordu bicycle, which went missing Thursday night.
RAAM Manager Dave Eldridge said overcoming those challenges was a testament to the focus and diligence of the team and nearly two dozen volunteer crew members.
“Once we physically removed the riders from the environment to fight the challenges, they went back to the task at hand, which was to push the pedals as hard as they could and go east,” Eldridge said. “The crew also did a great job. We made some decisions to keep people back and move people forward with the team and they came through with the support that was necessary. That’s really consistent of the message of Team Type 1. You have to manage the disease, just like you manage things in real life.”
Another remarkable story to emerge was the perseverance of Kingery, a member of the new Team Type 1 triathlon squad. The 33-year-old, Delaware, Ohio, resident broke his hand a month before the race.
“I came into this knowing I wasn’t the strongest climber and my cast limited my climbing training,” Kingery said. “So that made it even more of a challenge. I knew my strong suit would be on the flats.”
The team’s quest to better the existing RAAM team record hung in the balance until the final hours of the race. Two of the Team Type 1’s three slowest legs of the 53 time stations along the route came in the final 300 miles. The toll of pedaling for 10 or 15 minutes at a time for more than five days caught up to the riders, RAAM Coach Nate Keck said.
“I knew that getting the record was not a given,” Keck said. “But I also knew that we had a shot. So coming down to the finish, I basically just told the guys what we had to achieve to get it and they went out and knocked it down. We were fortunate to only get one time penalty. If we had received any more, we definitely would have been out of luck.”
Team Type 1 was created in 2004 to inspire people living with diabetes to take a proactive approach to managing their health and overcoming the obstacles often associated with the condition. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to properly control blood sugar levels.