Western Isles cyclist Christina MacKenzie is aiming to make history this week as she attempts to break the current women’s world record for cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
The Stornoway athlete departed from the southernmost point of the UK mainland on Wednesday at 8am. She is seeking to smash the record for the iconic 839-mile route which stands at 52 hours and 45 minutes, having been set 20 years ago by Lynne Biddulph.
The Isles sportswoman – a former gold medal-winning triathlete at the International island games – told the Free Press that she hoped a previous attempt at the record in 2019 would stand her in good stead for this week’s challenge.
She added: “I think to have that experience is valuable, because you can’t replicate what’s involved — you have to travel all 839 miles to appreciate that. I am now aware of the demands and have put that into my planning this time around.
“It will be an 8 am start, and after that, I will get liquids and food from my team every hour.
“I am allowed a maximum stop of an hour, which I have scheduled for at Penrith. I will be about 24 hours into the cycle at that point.
“I will have something to eat and try to get some shut-eye for 20-25 minutes, then I’ll brush my teeth, change my contact lenses, and I’ll be good to go again.”
While Christina will have clocked more than half of the required mileage by the time she reaches the A9, she stressed that the 273-mile-road is the section of her challenge she is most apprehensive about overcoming.
She said: “I am likely to hit the A9 at around 9.30 on Thursday night, just when it starts to get dark. I will actually be on the road and not a cycle path, but I will have the convoy, the cars, and the beacons lit up. I will be cycling on the A9 for five to six hours in the dead of the night, and won’t be able to see the hills which means I won’t be aware of how I am doing in terms of my pace and power.
“The climb up to the pass of Drumochter is a constant slog, the last time the temperature there was five degrees which was a big drop from the high 20s we had at the start of that stretch.”
She went on to add: ”After that I will look forward to daylight and the descent into Inverness. My aim is to finish at John O’Groats at midday on Friday.”
Christina will be cycling in aid of Alzeimher Scotland in memory of her mother Elizabeth Mackenzie (Betty Bruce) who passed away in July 2014 whilst diagnosed with Vascular Dementia. To follow the progress, click here and to donate to the fundraising page visit here
Article by Adam Gordon