Women's Cycling: Ultra-cyclist Katie Ford opens up about living with epilepsy

Katie Ford became the first Scot to complete the Race Across America

Katie Ford, 33, from Glasgow is one of Scotland's most successful ultra-cyclists.

She became the youngest British female and the first-ever Scot to complete the Race Across America, an ultra-distance cycling race that covers roughly 3000 miles that Ford completed as part of a relay team.

In 2017, Ford became the British record holder and holder of the second most significant distance ridden by a female on a Static Cycle (340.4km), per Guinness World Record rules. In the same year, she became the first-ever Briton to attempt to ride 12 hours on an Indoor Velodrome. Ford became the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association Indoor Track Cycling world record holder across the 6 Hour, 100km, 200km & 300km disciplines respectively. She raised £20,000 for charities, Epilepsy Action and the Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity.

As a result of her cycling and her commitment to increasing epilepsy awareness, she carried the Olympic torch in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.

Ford has been significantly impacted by epilepsy, undergoing brain surgery to treat her condition as a teenager.

Talking to The National she reflected on how awareness of the condition is changing: “It’s amazing in the past ten years how much the sport of ultra-cycling has grown, and also there’s been progress in terms of recognising mental health issues but there hasn’t been the same progress when it comes to awareness of epilepsy.”

“On the mental health side of things, you see a lot of people now using cycling and exercise as a way of helping their mental health. It is a fantastic way of helping with stress and so many things like that," she added.

For Ford, increasing visibility of how you can live with epilepsy is essential: “I want people to see that just because you have the condition, doesn’t mean you can’t do these kinds of things.”

“I really believe in the saying if you see it, you can be it and while I hope kids are inspired, I take a huge amount of strength from them too. I see how much harder their struggles are even than mine. And so when I’m attempting these records, I want to keep going not just for me, but for them.”

It is this motivation that keeps her pedalling: “The main thing for me is that if I felt I was riding just for myself, it would be easier to stop. But I’ve always felt I was riding for people with the condition.”

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