Episode 132

Christina Mackenzie - LEJOG and NC500 Record Holder

In summer 2021, Christina MacKenzie broke the Women's Record for cycling from Lands End to John O'Groats. She completed the 839 miles in 51 hours, 5 minutes and 27 seconds. In 2022, she claimed a new women's cycling record for Scotland's famous North Coast 500 (NC500.) But Christina hasn't always been an endurance cyclist. She did her first 10km in 2010, which led her into triathlon and Ironman (and Celtman!) and ultra endurance cycling.

You'll hear:

07:10 We talk about Christina's LEJOG record breaking attempt - she came past Helen and husband Rich when they were on Day 5 of their LEJOG ride in 2021 and Christina was 35 hours into her 51 hour record breaking ride.

10:55 Christina talks about how she was feeling after 35 hours on the bike 'after 20 hours I wouldn't be able to make my own decisions and that's when the team come in. I was nervous about what my body might do, but I was also excited because I felt really good.

12:40 Where did the idea come from to try to break the LEJOG women's record. " I remember looking at Mike Broadwith's strava and thinking 'that's just crazy.' But after my second 24 hour TT I thought 'what would the next thing be?' It was in my head, but a little vino brought it out of my head and then I said it out loud and then there's no going back."

16:55: The important thing to remember is that I am just a club cyclist and once I thought it might be a possibility, it was about getting a coach and a support team. It's a huge team effort. I used to joke that I have the easy job of pedalling, but there's a huge amount of logistics and cost behind it. Even a few months afterwards, I look at the strava file and I think 'how did I manage that?'

20:10 I think the training I did for it was spot on, including 3 back to back 200 mile days and I was feeling tired, fatigued and grumpy but physically and mentally it got me ready. Sometimes I just wanted to fling my bike in Loch Tay and get the train back. But I figure it's like doing your homework.

22:00 Hand up's, nutrition - i'd get my bottle and it would either be a wrap, a flapjack or a gel. But there were times when I was fuelled by Millionaire's shortbread. It is the best! It would put a smile on my face every time.

25:10 Christina explains how you have to verify the World Record attempt with Guinness. ' We did it in July, but it wasn't until Christmas that it was ratified. They had observers throughout the UK, with a clip board.

28:00 On the lack of sleep 'I got a wee 'toot' from the support van behind me and what that happened I would take a gel or a cold coffee drink.

29:10 The difference in what's going through your mind when you're doing a LEJOG attempt compared to when you're doing an Ironman. I would treat myself and mentally bribing myself to get myself through, like 'get this done and then you can get your nails done.'

31:10 the speed Christina had to maintain 'I had to average 13.9 mph, but the clock doesn't stop.

33:40 How Christina trained for LEJOG. It was really difficult to fit everything in, and I have had to put things on hold to be able to do it. At the peak I was probably doing about 25 hours. It was hard over winter and at times it was so difficult and you question your own sanity and if it's worth it. But when you break the record it is worth did.

37:10 We talk about how to keep vaguely comfortable on a 50 hour +ride.

39:10 How do you go from LEJOG to wanting to have a crack at the North Coast 500? "It was quite logistically difficult." But if you're in a car on a nice day, it's one of the most beautiful places in the world. If you're on a bike, in a headwind, it's the worst place in the world!" "There were a lot of mental battles and I had to tell myself a lot of things. And I knew I couldn't stop because it was a bit horrible and it wasn't nice. I knew I just had to endure the 30 hours which does sound a bit mad when I say it out loud.

45:10 What's it all for? I do sometimes think that but I don't take my health for granted. I figure while I can do it physically, I should get out and make the most of it and do it. But there are times i question it and I wonder why I am putting myself through it because you are beating your body up, but you have to do that if you want to get to a certain level. But then at the same remembering I am just a part time cyclist, I work full time! But if I can inspire anyone to pick up a bike and get that sense of freedom.... I have seen the enjoyment that I have got from it and if I can share that with someone else, then that's great."

51:10 Christina outlines how she has progressed from doing a sprint triathlon to breaking the LEJOG women's record.

52:25 Do you ever worry that you need a challenge to be content? I did until last week, but at the moment I don't feel like I need to have the next challenge. I just want to do things that normal people do. I think this is the first time ever that I want to chill out for a bit. I'm quite content at the moment doing what I have done and enjoying the down time.

Find out more about this week's guests

Christina MacKenzie Instagram

Lejogmack Instagram

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Inside Tri Show
Helen Murray brings you awesome interviews from triathlon and beyond

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Helen Murray

Helen has been working in triathlon for a decade as an athlete, coach and broadcaster.

Helen hosts the Inside Tri Show podcast bringing you awesome interviews from triathlon and beyond