The ironwill of Stornoway’s own Ironwoman

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A little over three months ago Christina Mackenzie feared the worst.

Looking wistfully at her reflection in the mirror, which only showed half of the injuries she had suffered in a training accident, she was convinced she was out of action for the foreseeable future.

What had been a routine day out on her bike, pedalling along a track she had navigated countless times, left her in a crumpled, bloody heap after a pedestrian stepped in front of her bike – leaving her in serious pain and requiring surgery.

“I felt like I had gone ten rounds with Muhammad Ali – and lost,” Mackenzie said, “I was just in so much pain.”

Thirteen weeks on and Mackenzie is smiling again after not only fighting back to near full-health but into the medal placings at the ETU Challenge Long Distance Triathlon European Championships in Amsterdam.

The 37 year-old felt like she had won the fight of her life just to take to the starting grid for the oldest triathlon in Europe but despite heading into battle hindered by constant pain – and with a steel plate freshly inserted into her shoulder – Mackenzie dug deep to cross the chalk in a phenomenal fifth place finish in the women’s 35-39 age group category.

Wearing the national squad jersey of Ireland, where she has made her home although originally from Stornoway, Christina admits she has been through the mill in the recent past.

“To go from a hospital bed and surgery to medal placings is something I didn’t think was possible,” smiled Mackenzie as she recounted the agony and ecstasy of completing the triathlon.”

It was a calm, crystal clear evening in the warmth of the Dublin summer when Mackenzie took her bike out for her traditional early evening cycle around Malahide. She had already covered miles of tarmac when disaster struck.

“She just didn’t look where she was stepping into,” Mackenzie murmured as she recalled the accident.

To read the rest of the feature special on Stornoway’s Ironwoman - pick up a copy of this week’s Gazette - on sale now.