‘Mental grind’ of 4x4x48 challenge to shine light on resiliency of diabetics and caregivers

Humboldt resident Jason Holtvogt doesn’t consider himself a runner. He doesn’t even particularly enjoy going for a jog. But the 44-year-old has committed to running the David Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge over the August long weekend to raise money for diabetes research.

That means he will run four miles (6.4 kilometres) every four hours for 48 hours to log 48 miles (77.2 km).

Holtvogt will be completing the challenge with members of the Humboldt & Area Team T1D, a group that embraced his family in 2018 after his daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age four.

“When you or a loved one is diagnosed, you aren’t asked first ‘Is this something that you want to do?’ You are given a task that tests your mental toughness immediately,” Holtvogt says. “I thought (the Goggins Challenge) would be a great way to shine a light on the resiliency of diabetics and their caregivers and also an excellent opportunity to raise some money for T1D research.”

In advance of the challenge, Holtvogt spoke with the Brainsport Times about his family’s journey with diabetes and his foray into running.

Brainsport Times: Tell me about your background in running and endurance sports.

Jason Holtvogt: I don’t have any. In high school I actually didn’t like playing any sport that involved running. I lived in Saskatoon from 2000–07 and during that time I joined the running club at Brainsport for probably about eight months. I ran the Bridge City Boogie five kilometre for a couple of years, but my training for that consisted of running a couple of times before the race, then stopping immediately after.

BT: Why did you decide to tackle the 4x4x48 challenge?

JH: In January I had an umbilical hernia surgery and was topping 260 pounds. At 6-foot-1 this is the heaviest I have ever been. I was really having trouble getting motivated to get into shape and felt like I needed a goal.

I was listening to the 31 Thoughts Podcast and they were interviewing Mario Ferraro, a defenceman with the San Jose Sharks. He found this David Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge and decided to run it. After he completed the challenge he felt it made him stronger as a hockey player because of how tough the run was not only physically, but mentally. I started to look into the challenge and found so many similarities between what our everyday life is like and what this challenge is about.

The challenge is described as a mental grind as 6.2 km (four miles) isn’t that hard for the average runner, but the sleep deprivation and the consistency of running every four hours makes it difficult.

As caregivers for our daughter, myself or my wife wake up two to three times per night to check our daughter’s sugar levels depending on how much fluctuation there has been that day. This challenge has a direct connection with this part of our daily routine.

I also thought it was an excellent opportunity to raise some money for the research that Dr. James Shapiro is doing at the University of Alberta.

BT: What does your training look like for this event?

JH: Well at first I was just going to run and see how it turned out. About the beginning of May I realized that I was going to be in big trouble if I took that approach.

I am now working with Blair Niekamp with Finish First Athletic Therapy and TBS Bracing here in Humboldt, Emily Marcotte and Katie Stephenson with Longhorn CrossFit and Sarah Novecoski, a running coach who has run a similar challenge in B.C.

I’m a 44 year old who works in the construction industry so obviously I have backaches so I called Dr. Tom and Caitlynn Hooker with Evolve Chiropractic in Humboldt where they are taking care of any adjustments I need while my body is changing drastically over the next few months.

My training team has me working on a fitness and running program that will set me up to get through the challenge and then still make it to work on the Tuesday after the challenge.

You might ask – why so many people? I did too. When Aubree (our daughter) was diagnosed we immediately had a team around us helping us get ready for the care of her diabetes. We have doctors, nurses, and a dietitian at RUH. When Aubree attends school we have the support staff at the school as well as the teachers to help her. We also have the Humboldt and Area Team T1D for support and questions as well as family to help with her care when we need some time to take care of ourselves. Having someone to talk to at times is also a big help whether it is a friend, neighbour or team members who can relate to what you are going through.

BT: How can people support you?

JH: You can support us first and foremost through donating to DRIFCan, the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation Canada.

You can find a link to donate on our website T1D4x4x48.weebly.comand can also purchase merchandise, with a portion of your purchase going to our fundraiser.

You can find us on our social media platforms at:

Facebook: T1D4x4x48
Instagram: T1D.4x4x48
Twitter @t1d4x4x48
YouTube: T1D 4x4x48

We use the hashtag #whosyour4, as in who are you waking up in the middle of the night for, who are you being strong for, or who are you raising money for.

Leading up to the challenge, we are asking everyone to donate and share as many posts as you possibly can to bring awareness to the challenge of living with Type 1 Diabetes.

During the weekend of the challenge, from Friday July 30 at 8 p.m. until Sunday Aug. 1 at 4 p.m. you can tweet out #whosyour4 in support of diabetics, their families and caregivers. And, of course, don’t forget to donate!

BT: Where does the money go?

JH: All the money raised from this run goes directly to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation Canada (DRIFCan). The mission of DRIFCan is to end Type 1 Diabetes by directly funding cure-based diabetes researcher Dr. James Shapiro at the University of Alberta..

Dr. Shapiro and his team at the Alberta Diabetes Institute (ADI) are actively researching, collaborating and conducting ongoing clinical trials to accelerate the pace of diabetes research to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.

DRIFCan was established in 2005 to fund Dr. Shapiro’s Edmonton Protocol and continues to fund his team of researchers in the clinical and human trials at the ADI. Early trials of the stem cell research that they are conducting are showing considerable success.

The goal of the T1D4x4x48 is to raise $100,000 to help directly fund a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.