Kelowna runner unfazed by health challenges

Despite type 1 diabetes, Delilah Topic competes at a high level in athletics

Facing obstacles is nothing new to runner Delilah Topic.

A type 1 diabetic, the 37-year-old Kelowna athlete’s health on race day is largely unpredictable.

Topic, who relies on an insulin pump to control her blood sugar levels, will be hoping for the best later this month at the World Masters Games in Auckland, New Zealand.

In addition to the challenges diabetes presents for both training and competing, Topic is also recovering from a broken toe.

Still, even with the added burden of an injury, Topic is crossing her fingers she’ll be ready to go in two weeks time.

“I still am hopeful to get on that start line in New Zealand, but I know my ability to compete will obviously be largely hampered,” said Topic, who is currently cross-training on a bike, with plans to soon resume gentle running.

“I’m heartbroken, but determined.”

Determination is a term Topic is intimately familiar with. Since being diagnosed with diabetes at 14, managing her health on a daily basis has required constant attention.

But Topic has found ways to persevere, both professionally as a medical oncologist and as a competitive athlete.

Topic has enjoyed considerable success at national and international events, including winning a gold medal in the 5,000 metres last summer at the Master’s Canadian Track and Field Championships.

She has also competed in events around the world, including in Italy, Australia and France.

At more than a few competitions in the past, the disease has rendered her ill and fatigued, unable to run any where near her potential.

Over time, Topic has learned to deal with the realities of her ailment.

“It’s frustrating, you can be 100 per cent, training really well and then it just hits you,” said Topic, who is coached by former Olympian, Doug Consiglio. “I run a lot of races in pain, but there’s nothing you can do.

“I’ve learned it’s nothing I can really control so I don’t worry about it as much anymore,” she added. “You have to just hope that things work on that day. When it does, you celebrate. That’s just the way it is.”

Still, advances in diabetes research over the years have made treating her disease and pursuing her athletic goals just that more manageable.

In the end, Topic has proven to herself and others, that her limitations in life are few.

“When I was younger, being told I couldn’t do certain things because of the diabetes just motivated me,” she said. “I was going to prove those doctors wrong. This doesn’t have to stop me and any setbacks I had just instilled other qualities in me, like being tougher and pushing through the pain.

“It’s motivated my career too, it’s a high energy life that I lead and I try to make the most of it.”

If Topic is feeling well enough, she plans to run the 1,500 metre and 10 k events in New Zealand.

The 2017 World Masters Games are set for April 21 to 30.

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