Meet Red Rocker Courtney D.: Marathoner and Writer

Posted April 26, 2018

The Red Rockers’ very own Courtney Duckworth competed in her 5th Boston Marathon on April 16.  It is an enormous undertaking for anyone, but even more amazing for Courtney.  The vivacious Red Rocker, who grew up as a competitive figure skater, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 10.

Now age 24, Red Rocker Courtney D. hails from Woodbridge, VA.  She graduated summa cum laude from the College of William and Mary with a degree in Kinesiology and Health Sciences and a minor in Public Health.  She is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa and will start medical school at the University of Virginia in August.  Adding to her accomplishments, Courtney is also the author of the newly released book The Marathon We Live: Training for a Personal Best in Life with Type 1 Diabetes.

Running the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon, is tough.  It takes a tremendous amount of training and determination to even qualify to run the 26 mile, 385 yard race that attracts runners from all over the world.  Participants with no physical or medical obstacle find the iconic race grueling, but for someone with type 1 diabetes it is quite a daunting task. Courtney manages her condition with Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre system, a new glucose sensing technology that eliminates the need for routine finger sticks. With continuous monitoring, she can get what she needs to make the best health decisions, especially during her intensive training.  While running, Courtney no longer has to prick her finger. Instead, she waves a handheld device over a sensor about the size of two stacked quarters worn on the back of her upper arm. Her glucose measurement immediately appears on the device reader, along with information about how her glucose has been trending and where it’s forecast to go.  The revolutionary technology is transforming the way people with diabetes manage their condition.

“After qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon in 2015, I reached out to Abbott as I used their Freestyle Lite blood glucose meter throughout my training,” Courtney explained. “Three years later, the Abbott World Marathon Majors team reached out and asked if I would be interested in training for the 2018 Boston Marathon using the Freestyle Libre system. It really didn’t take too long to say yes—1) because the Boston Marathon is one of the most special races in the world and 2) because the Freestyle Libre system was a game-changer in my training,”

Inspired by a supporter who had lived with type1 diabetes for 62 years and encouraged by a college mentor, Courtney decided to write a book to share her success.

“The idea just wouldn’t leave my head, “she said.  “Over time, it helped improve my care. I started writing The Marathon We Live: Training for a Personal Best in Life with Type 1 Diabetes the day after graduation.  It took about 2.5 years before it was ready to share with others. Now, it is available on Amazon and partial proceeds from each book support the Every Step Counts Scholarship Program I started to reward young adults for their efforts to live their healthiest lives with type 1 diabetes.”

The Washington Capitals were proud to welcome Courtney as a Red Rocker in 2016. She is now a second-year veteran and excited to be a part of the Washington Capitals organization. Her favorite Caps player is T.J. Oshie, although Alex Ovechkin runs a close second.

“Caps fans are the most loyal and enthusiastic fans around.  Memories from various Caps events… interacting with kids, being given 30+ plates of gourmet food (that we had to store in the changing room) at Food Fight DC, meeting Pat Sajak at a Caps alumni event, having a personal body guard to hold my diabetes supplies, performing at the Mayflower Hotel in a boxing ring… sometimes you are put into these crazy, dream-like situations and they make for awesome stories!” Courtney said.

“Representing the Washington Capitals means maintaining high standards, both as ‘Red Rocker Courtney D.’ and as nerdy, runner Courtney who is trying to make a positive difference one opportunity at a time.  Being part of the Caps family these past two years has been the fulfillment of a decade-long dream and will continue to inspire me as I continue to cheer in medical school, just now for human health instead of power plays,” she added.

She completed this year’s marathon in 3:40:55, which is very impressive in itself, not to mention the horrible wind and rain that plagued the runners that day.