South Orange-Maplewood Natives Run Copenhagen Marathon to Inspire Hope

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The following was written about two Seton Hall Prep graduates and lifelong SOMa residents for their sponsor Snypex, which has supported their environmental work and endurance events globally. Over the last year, James Sanchez has lost over 80 pounds from a peak weight of 250. Erik Douds continually battles Type 1 Diabetes and overcomes the stereotypes of the disease. Their mission is to inspire anyone that faces a daily challenge in their lives:

Erik Douds Copenhagen Marathon

Copenhagen, Denmark – At 9:30 a.m. the starting gun shot echoes in the ears of 12,000 runners to begin the 26.2 mile marathon. Snypex endurance athlete and global traveler Erik Douds, along with his running partner James Sanchez, take the first paces to complete two laps around the entire city until crossing the finish line. This is a special trip for Erik who has traveled with the Snypex binoculars to over four continents and seven different countries. The duo is racing to raise awareness for causes close to their hearts – juvenile diabetes and childhood obesity.

Erik was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of sixteen. In an instant, his adolescent life instantly changed to one filled with needles, blood sugar tests, and continuous medical treatment. He carries a bottle filled with a mixture of orange juice and water, which he sips to help elevate his blood sugar that is brought down by the strenuous exercise.

Inserted under the sleeve of his left arm is a continuous glucose monitor that provides blood sugar readings every five minutes during the race. A close eye must be kept at all times to prevent dangerous lows, or hypoglycemia, that can cause him to faint or become unconscious. All of this must be managed on top of the physical strain of running 26.2 miles.

Running pace to pace with Erik is his running partner James Sanchez. At a peak of 250 pounds, he decided that it is never too late to take action and change your life

“I went from being unable to run for more than a few minutes, to finishing a 5k, to running every day, to running a half marathon and finally to run a full marathon. And frankly, no one is more surprised about this fact than me.”

We sat down with Erik after he returned to New York and asked him about the experience:

“A marathon is something so few people complete because it pushes the ultimate limits of the human body. You cannot wake up one day and decide to do this. It takes patience, discipline, and ultimately the acceptance that you can do anything. One of the reasons Snypex has traveled the world with me is that I know this product can keep up with me. We’ve hiked mountains in New Zealand, gone through the wetlands of Ethiopia, and now we’ve crossed the finish line.”

The two lifelong friends face significant challenges during race day. At mile 18, around where many expect to hit “the wall,” James throws up any water he tries to consume. The two walk about a mile before James is convinced to sit down and see the medical staff. It appears he will not be able to finish. The two discuss their options and Erik pushes on without his running partner.

At the finish line Erik sits with his knees bent and elbows on his knees trying to comprehend the feeling of completing the race. A woman approaches and asks, “Where is your friend?” Erik is stunned to see a bright red Snypex shirt jogging across the finish line. After successfully eating an energy bar, James had snuck off from the medical staff’s supervision and stubbornly finished the six miles to collect his medal.

The two smile for the photo marking this accomplishment. A marathon is tough, but nothing can stop your determination.

Follow @erikdouds on Instagram or connect through his LinkedIn to see his global travels with Snypex – binoculars for the world.


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