Sofie Schunk, a 31-year-old engineer and dedicated runner with type 1 diabetes, has achieved a remarkable feat by qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials.

Sofie’s dream was realised at the 2023 California International Marathon in Sacramento, California, a testament to her unwavering determination and resilience.

Athletes often have tales of surmounting challenges, and Sofie’s is particularly inspiring.

In the lead-up to the California International Marathon, she encountered a series of hurdles, including a bacterial infection around her glucose sensor, a mere three days before the race.

Following a ten-day recovery period from the infection, and with a personal best time six minutes adrift of the qualifying mark, Sofie’s prospects seemed daunting.

Despite considering withdrawing during the first 10 miles of the race, Schunk resolved to give herself another chance, with the qualifying window rapidly closing.

“I can’t really articulate why I persevered,” Schunk revealed to Runner’s World.

“It was largely down to faith in the extensive training I’d undergone and confidence in my nutrition strategy.

“I had the necessary sustenance on board and a supportive team behind me.”

Sofie’s nutrition regimen included a blend of UCAN gels, gummy bears (often used by people as a fast-acting treatment for hypoglycemia), electrolyte capsules, and water.

Her meticulous approach combined with an indomitable spirit helped propel Sophie to acheive a remarkable finish time of 2:36:22.

Reflecting on her race, Schunk says “I still experience goosebumps when I think about it.

“I’m not usually one to show emotion, but that was an intensely profound, albeit quiet, moment. It was a victory hard-earned.”

Prior to this achievement, Schunk had narrowly missed qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials, clocking a time of 2:49:07 at the 2019 California International Marathon, just over four minutes shy of the qualifying standard.

For Schunk, this race is the latest chapter in her ongoing journey as she continually seeks effective ways to manage her type 1 diabetes while chasing her athletic dreams and encouraging others to do likewise.

As a founding member of the Diabetes Sports Project, Sofie actively supports aspiring athletes with diabetes, helping them balance their condition with their sporting ambitions.

Sofie also mentors and coaches fellow distance and elite runners living with type 1 diabetes.

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