Jim molyneux was riding his bicycle in the middle leg of an Ironman triathlon and injecting himself with a needle when a fellow cyclist drew level and asked what he was doing. “Taking steroids,” he replied.

Molyneux’s laughter told the other cyclist he was being taken for a ride. But the truth is even more of a trip. Molyneux has has had Type 1 diabetes since he was 18. During the 13-hour race, he had to inject himself with insulin every hour.

It’s all in a day’s work for Molyneux, 49, a chartered accountant with wealth manager Moore Stephens Cooper Molyneux LLP in Etobicoke, Ont. He did his first Ironman in 1999; since then, he has competed in six competitions to raise awareness of diabetes and money for diabetes research. By tapping friends and corporations to sponsor him, Molyneux has raised more than $200,000 for the Canadian Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.ca) and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

It is a far cry from the days when a young Molyneux, studying for his business degree and an MBA at the University of Windsor, worked assiduously to hide his medical condition from his basketball cronies.

“I didn’t want people to know,” he says. “I wanted people to know me as an athlete, not as a diabetic.”

Molyneux has four teenagers — none of whom has exhibited signs of being diabetic. But he still feels compassion for diabetic children whom he knows are making the same stoic efforts he did: “I thought, ‘I should show them what I do and that diabetes doesn’t stop me from doing anything that I want in my life’.” From that, Molyneux has developed a fierce interest in finding a cure for diabetes.

Today, he has competed in six Ironman competitions, completing five of them. Getting into shape for the demanding races, which feature a 3.8-kilometre swim, a 180-km bike ride and a 41.8-km run, is a considerable endeavour. Although Molyneux has always been active, he didn’t know how to swim and didn’t own a 10-speed bike when he started. “You have to have a lot of support from friends and family,” he admits.

He also had to pay careful attention to his blood-sugar levels, which can fly off the charts during such strenuous physical exertion. In the early races, he didn’t feel he could pause to check his blood sugar levels, but subsequently came to acknowledge the importance of checking. Eventually, Molyneux perfected the technique of injecting himself while running or cycling. He also frequently ducks into the aid stations along the route. And, after each race, he has a complete medical checkup. “I’ve been in six Ironmans,” he says, “and I’ve been in six medical tents afterward.”

Molyneux has competed in his last Ironman. “It takes a lot out of your system. I found them harder and harder,” he says.

But his efforts to make the world aware of diabetes and the importance of finding a cure will continue. “What ends up happening is people with diabetes begin to think they can’t do certain things,” he says. “I’m trying to show them they can do anything. Anything at all.” IE