A former Greenwood resident with a bright spirit — and perhaps an even brighter outfit — made his way through town Tuesday on the route of his incredible journey.
Since the start of 2020, Don Muchow has been on a journey to run from Newport Beach, California, to Melbourne, Florida, or “from Disneyland to Disney World.” His latest stop is the Mississippi Delta.
Muchow is a transcontinental runner who became an advocate to those with Type 1 diabetes to embrace a full life. He has had the disease since his childhood.
“You can’t just sort of stand there paralyzed. You have to get out and do something. And it doesn’t have to be anything epic, but you got to get out and face the risk and do it,” he said.
At the time of his diagnosis in 1972, Muchow said medical advancements concerning the disease were lacking and his doctors advised against exercising at all, as they feared it would lower blood sugar levels severely.
“I was 42 years old before I started to see the consequences of not exercising,” he said.
Now, he is using this run as a tool to deliver the message to all those affected by the disease. “It might be harder, doing everything with one hand tied behind your back, having to test your blood sugar. But there’s no reason not to go do stuff,” he said. “You should never give up on the idea of being active just because bad things might happen. And bad things might happen regardless of whether you’re diabetic, but you gotta get out and live life.”
Muchow, 59, currently lives in Plano, Texas, and runs a small health and wellness advertisement agency with his wife and crew member, Leslie Nolen. But he spent much of his youth in Greenwood, graduating in 1979 from Greenwood High School.
He and his family moved from Ruislip, England, to Greenwood after his father, Ed Muchow, retired from the Navy in 1973 and later started the Navy ROTC program at Greenwood High School.
Don Muchow said this run is also in part a dedication to his father, who died one year ago.
“I kind of made him a promise after that happened that I would finish the run. He was always really proud of me and thought this was a great thing,” Muchow said. “I said I would run physically — foot, by foot, by foot — all the way to his gravesite before the year was out and visit him and say a final goodbye.”
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the run had to be paused twice.
But now, the run is back on, and he is expecting to make good on his promise.
On Tuesday, Muchow could be spotted along U.S. 82 in his neon orange and yellow outfit — or as Nolen put it, “dressed like a human safety-cone” — as he made his way to his hometown and his father’s grave at Odd Fellows Cemetery East after hitting the 2,000-mile mark in Greenville.
Suited up in his bright, flashy windbreaker makes him stand out for those passing cars.
His hat and neck gear help protect against any severe sunburn — a lesson he said he learned while crossing the Mojave Desert — and tight gripped shoe guards protect from road debris.
Also, there’s his “Batman belt” where he keeps his items and emergency equipment, which thankfully he hasn’t had to use much, not even in thunderstorms.
“We had one day just outside of El Paso that was cut a little bit short by torrential rain. But most days, if it’s gonna rain I’m not interested in dragging it out,” Muchow said. “Might as well get out and run in it.”
Nolen, who for two years helped plan the run and its route, also follows him from stop to stop to make sure nothing goes wrong. She said she could not be more proud.
“It’s been amazing to see Don show so many people with Type 1 diabetes that they can still dream big,” she said. “Parents of newly diagnosed kids often think it’s the end of their child’s future. Adult T1s wonder if life will ever be OK again. The truth is that kids and adults with Type 1 diabetes can do anything they want to, just like everyone else. Every day is a victory.”
Those who wish to follow Muchow on his journey can do so by following him on Instagram at T1Determined. Those who wish to donate can also do so at t1determined.org.
• Contact Adam Bakst at 581-7233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter at @AdamBakst_GWCW.