My 1 Million Step Challenge journey to raise awareness of diabetes – by Donna Sarjant

My name’s Donna Sarjant. I work for Transport for London in the Health, Safety and Environment Team.

I signed up to take part in this year’s 1 Million Step Challenge for Diabetes UK to help keep me motivated with my walking and also to help raise awareness of diabetes.

I was diagnosed with diabetes in August 2015 after attending a health fair at my workplace at Transport for London. I was initially diagnosed as Type 2, but after a while I was diagnosed as MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young) which is a rare type of diabetes that affects fewer than 2% of diabetics.

I have always enjoyed walking as a form of exercise and started to take part in charity walks over the past few years. Having events to train for helps keep me focused and also gives me an excuse to get out and about. It’s all to easy to not bother doing anything and just sit on the sofa.

When I signed up to take part in the 1 million step challenge I was aware that I had some events coming up that would help me on my journey and to my target. These included a week at the Great Dorset Steam Fair and a week in Disneyland Paris. I also took part in the Thames Path Challenge 25k, the Run Disneyland Paris 5k and 10k and the Diabetes UK Thames Bridges Challenge 10 miles walk.

Spending a week at the Great Dorset Steam Fair in August was fantastic. As well as a great week of entertainment and steam engines, it was also a great week of walking. The site for the Great Dorset Steam Fair is over 600 acres of farmland and quite hilly in places. Most mornings we were up and about from 7am and on the go all day until about midnight. Over six daysI racked up a total of 200,184 steps.

September was a busy month with three charity walks and a week’s holiday to Disneyland Paris.

Diabetes UK’s Thames Path Challenge

I completed the Thames Path Challenge, a 25k Thames Bridges Trek. Starting at Putney Bridge and finishing at Southwark Park crossing 16 bridges across the Thames on the way. It was a great day and the weather was perfect for a nice stroll! I set myself a target of completing the 25k distance in five hours. My official finish time was four hours and 56 minutes. It was a great event and very well organised and I’ve already signed up to take part in 2018!

Run Disney Half Marathon

We travelled across to France for a weeks stay at Disneyland Paris. Last year Disneyland Paris held their inaugural Run Disney half marathon weekend events. So this year my partner and I signed up to take part in both the 5k and 10k events. These events are fantastic, especially if you are a Disney fan like me. The 5k event took place on the Friday evening and it was great walking and jogging through the parts of the park that the public don’t normally get to see up close. You can also stop for photos with characters on the way. And the medal which we received at the end was fantastic and well worth taking part for!

The 10k event was held on the Saturday morning. We had to be at the start line for 6am! The whole atmosphere was fantastic. The Disney cast members were all out in force to cheer us along the route through both Disney parks and Disney village areas. It took us 1 hour and 46 minutes to complete the 10k distance, which we were both happy with. Neither of us are runners and we walked the distance.

After a week walking round Disneyland Paris and taking part in both the 5k and 10k I racked up a total of 296,922 steps!We are hoping to sign up for this event again next year and there has even been talk at home about training for the half marathon next year too!

Diabetes UK’s Thames Bridges Challenge

I took part in the Thames Bridges Challenge organised by Diabetes UK. This was a 10 mile walk from Battersea Park to Tower Hill, crossing bridges along the Thames. I completed this walk with my best mate Karen and we had a great day. It rained for a while as we made our way to the start line but that passed and the weather wasn’t too bad for the morning’s walk. It took us three hours to complete the 10 mile walk and we enjoyed the course and have said we will be signing up again next year.

Diabetes UK’s 1 million step challenge

The 1 million step challenge has been fantastic and I have enjoyed taking part as an individual. Taking part in these events makes you aware of how active you are and encourages you to do more. I hope that as a company we take part again next year. I wonder how many walks I can sign up for in 2018. I might need a new medal rack by the end of it!

I ended up completing 2.6 million steps in three months of the 1 million step challenge!

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