Medtronic Passes the Buck...

The whining over the past two weeks about Medtronic accomplished "something." (Thanks for the heads-up, Jerry) Now on the Global Heroes page, Medtronic gives you the option to learn more about the diabetic exclusion. When you opt to learn more, you learn this:

Medtronic Global Heroes is a joint program created by the Medtronic Foundation and Twin Cities Marathon, Inc. (TCM) to recognize runners with medical devices. As part of TCM's role in managing the health and safety of all 15,000 runners on the course, the organization has worked with Medtronic to create guidelines for runners participating in the Global Heroes program. These guidelines are designed to help manage the overall risk of participants.

Under those guidelines, the TCM medical director determined that runners older than 40, who have been diagnosed with diabetes for more than 15 years, are not currently eligible for the Global Heroes program. This decision was based on increased cardiovascular risks, including a rise in sudden death from atherosclerotic causes, associated with the longevity of diabetes in people older than 40.

Now in the third year of partnership, the Medtronic Foundation and TCM continue to share a common goal to recognize and celebrate runners benefiting from medical technology who continue to run despite chronic disease. Each year the criteria for the Global Heroes program is reviewed and re-evaluated. In fact, the guidelines for diabetes were revised from 2007 to 2008, making more runners eligible by adding the qualifier of “diagnosis for more than 15 years” to the age requirement.

Please share your comments with us at Your input will continue to help us continue to evaluate this program.

I received an email yesterday from Medtronic saying the same thing. No names, mind you. Could've been a robot that sent it.

A little googling shows the TCM Medical Director to be Bill Roberts, which is a bummer. Roberts is well respected in the marathon community and his discrimination in this issue is awfully disturbing. So I asked him about it. I wrote:

Dr. Roberts,

According to Medtronic, you are the person responsible for the blanket decision prohibiting insulin pump patients who've are more than 40 years of age who've had diabetes for more than 15 years from being considered for the Global Heroes program. I was told: This decision was based on increased cardiovascular risks, including a rise in sudden death from atherosclerotic causes, with the longevity of diabetes in people older than 40.

I would appreciate it if you could point me in the proper direction to see this research. Moreover, I would appreciate an understanding of the implications - Are you suggesting diabetics over the age of 40 shouldn't run marathons?

Thank you,
Marcus Grimm


To date, the kind doctor hasn't responded.

I was able to pick up a copy of the only paper the doc has published remotely related to the subject, though:
In conclusion, marathon road racing, although increasing in popularity and participation, is associated with a low (and decreasing) risk for sudden cardiac death largely because of the availability of advanced life support and timely defibrillation. That risk over the last 10 years is only 1 in 220,000 race participants. These observations offer an important measure of reassurance to potential marathon participants and underscore the power of rapid defibrillation after cardiac arrest for enhancing the safety of sports competition.

Gee Doc, you don't seem very "reassured."


  1. Anonymous11:56 AM

    As a 46 yr-old who got on the minimed pump for the express purpose of achieving better blood glucose control during distance running, I find this policy very offensive. Thanks for pointing it out. I'll submit my own e-mail protest.


  2. Hi, Marcus,
    Dr. Bill Roberts was the Medical Director for the Twin Cities Marathon in 2006 and apparently for several years before that.
    In 2007, the Medical Director was Dr. Steve Sterner. I'm not sure whether he's the current director.

  3. Thanks for the comment, Jerry... Strangely, Bill's resume says "1985-present" for the TCM and his resume includes at least one 2008 addition.. so the resume - in theory - is up to date:

    Also, Roberts wrote me back, though I'm putting together more info. before posting my update.


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