World record set by Portsmouth grandmother cycling Land's End to John o’ Groats and back

Marcia Roberts has set a record for the fastest woman to complete LEJOGLE
Marcia Roberts has set a record for the fastest woman to complete LEJOGLE
Marcia Roberts has set a record for the fastest woman to complete LEJOGLE

World record set by Portsmouth grandmother cycling Land's End to John o’ Groats and back

Cycling UK member and 54-year-old grandmother Marcia Roberts has battled through Storm Francis, saddle sores and fatigue to become the first woman to complete Land's End to John o’ Groats and back (LEJOGLE).

After 11 days, 13 hours and 13 minutes, Marcia has become the first woman to record an official time for the LEJOGLE. 

Marcia was cheered on along the route by supporters, friends and family. On the first leg of the journey, she was joined by a rider from Cornwall and then accompanied by a motorbike rider called Steve who had become aware of her record attempt online and came along to ensure cars kept a safe distance.

“This was the kindness of a stranger #2,” said Marcia. “And it wasn’t even 8:30am on the first day.”


Marcia and her motorbike companion, keeping traffic at a safe distance
Marcia and her motorbike companion, keeping traffic at a safe distance

Setting out for a record

Marcia only decided to take on this epic challenge during lockdown. After riding in the Paris–Brest–Paris in August last year she had been unable to finish within the time and decided she needed something a bit flatter for her next challenge. She decided to next take on the Race around the Netherlands, due to take place at the beginning of May 2020. 

After a winter of training she was feeling prepared. “I started thinking like an athlete instead of a rider who happens to ride a long way,” said Marcia. “My riding changed phenomenally over the winter.”

Then, after coronavirus hit, everything changed. The Race around the Netherlands was cancelled and the country was in lockdown. 

“I started to think, what can I do that I could do in this country, that I could organise myself and that would be pretty spectacular? 

I started to think, what can I do that I could do in this country, that I could organise myself and that would be pretty spectacular?

Marcia Roberts

“When I looked, there hadn’t been any women who had even attempted a Land’s End to John o’ Groats and back record.”

She was inspired by the technique used by Mark Beaumont in his round the world in 80 days challenge

“He said you can’t think about the distance because the distance just overwhelms your mind, and it was the same thinking about the 1,800 miles for LEJOGLE. 

“Mark set his ride into 4-hour blocks and only ever thinks about the 4 hour block he is in.

“I thought I can get my head around that.”

She planned to cycle 50 miles every 3.5 hours before taking a short break. She would do that four times every day.


LEJOGLE world record attempt

Marcia was told by Guinness that to get the world record she would need to finish the ride in eight and a half days. 

Originally planning to complete the ride unsupported, she realised she needed some help, and help arrived from everywhere. 

Accompanied by her husband in a support van for much of the journey, a volunteer she had never met heard she was tackling a stretch alone and came out with her own camper van.

Stormy weather

One of the toughest moments for Marcia came during Storm Francis which hit the country on day three of her ride. 

“On the day of Storm Francis, I really lost a lot of miles,” said Marcia. “I got on this road that goes from Gretna Green to Hamilton, that was when my saddle sores really started to get going and also we were still in the middle of the storm. It wasn’t raining so hard but then the winds picked up and got stronger and stronger.

“Then when it got dark, the rain came as well. So it was cold rain into a headwind, in the dark.”


At the half way point John o' Groats
At the half way point John o' Groats

Marcia demonstrated her incredible strength of mind and spirit towards the end of her gruelling journey when her body started fighting against her. 

“The last two days were just awful, in every way you can imagine,” explained Marcia “I was in pain with saddle sores that I picked up on the way going north in Storm Francis and then they just got worse and worse.

“The most difficult moments came once I realised I wasn’t going to do it in 8.5 days, I could never catch up the time that I’d lost.

I was close enough to the end that there was no way I was stopping. I was going to get there come hell or high water.

Marcia Roberts

“I was close enough to the end that there was no way I was stopping. I was going to get there come hell or high water. There was nothing that was going to get me in that van. I’d cycled all the way up and most of the way back.

“You can’t stop when you’ve only got 150-200 miles to go, you just can’t, you’ve got to carry on.”


Marcia raised money for her local mental health charity, Solent Mind. 

“Through the Covid crisis so many people have been experiencing more problems I would say than normal. We have the threat of unemployment, people being lonely, people being apart from their family, people not really sure what the future is going to hold. 

“I’ve seen really good friends struggle through this time and I thought, we really need to be raising money to help the mental health services and mental health charities.”

Marcia was joined on route by several riders who came out to tell their own mental health struggles. 

Whatever stage you are at on your own journey, these stories show that it’s possible to get through the dark times...You are never alone, even though it may feel like that at times.

Marcia Roberts

“Some have agreed to let me share their stories on my blog in the hope that they help others to see that it’s ok to talk or to seek help. Whatever stage you are at on your own journey, these stories show that it’s possible to get through the dark times. There will always be someone in your life that will support you if you will let them, be it a friend or family member. You are never alone, even though it may feel like that at times.”


Arriving at Lands' End
Arriving at Lands' End

Marcia smashed her fundraising target even before setting off. 

“Oh my goodness, it’s been amazing. By the time you add gift aid, and the money from the virtual event, we’re close to £11K.”

“I am reminded that even though cycling can be the most socially distanced of sports, there is something about it which can also bring people together. 

“My Lejogle journey somehow did just that. I started the ride with just a few friends, family and audaxers having any real interest in my journey. But by the end hundreds, possibly thousands, were watching my ‘dot’ and encouraging me to the finish, regardless of whether I had passed my target time or not.”


Enjoying a well earned glass of bubbly at the finish line
Enjoying a well earned glass of bubbly at the finish line

Join the virtual LEJOGLE ride

If you don’t have a spare 10-20 days to take on the LEJOGLE yourself, you can now get involved virtually. 

“I decided I wasn’t quite content with just doing the ride. I want everybody else to get involved as well. Keeping fit, riding your bike, running, walking is known to improve your mental health. If you’re stuck indoors all day, there’s nothing better.”

“For me, cycling is my way of finding balance. Especially when I’m locked up at home all day. When my head is not in a good place I like night riding. 

“I’ll just keep going until I’ve had enough. It just feels great. I can go for a night ride in places where there’s lots of street lights but there’s nobody on the roads, you hear everything, you smell everything. I just love it so much, it’s just total calm.”

Join the virtual LEJOGLE

What’s next?

Marcia will take on the Race around the Netherlands next year and is also preparing for the North Coast 500. She’s not setting out to break any records this time but has a personal target to complete the ride in 4 days.

Note: Guinness will officially recognise Marcia’s amazing record as soon as verification of her evidence has taken place. 

More about Marcia

You can still donate to Solent Mind through Marcia's Justgiving page.

Check out Marcia’s route and stories from her ride on her blog

Take part in the virtual LEJOGLE  

Marcia rides with the Pompey Pedal Pushers 

LEJOGLE attempt Facebook page


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