Ian Mackay blows away power wheelchair 24-hour distance record

On June 22, accessibility advocate Ian Mackay blew his way to a new world record for distance wheeled in 24 hours by mouth-controlled power wheelchair.

Photos courtesy of Celina Smith. New Mobility

Ian Ruder, New Mobility June 23, 2022

Mackay, a C3 quadriplegic who lives in Port Angeles, Washington, broke the old record of 173.98 miles by driving 184.4 miles in just under 24 hours.

To accomplish the feat, Mackay averaged over 8.6 mph in his Invacare SP2, covering more than 14 laps around a 13-mile paved loop on Sauvie Island, just north of Portland, Oregon. He started at 8 p.m. on the longest day of the year and crossed the finish line the next evening to a warm welcome from a small crowd of family, friends, media and supporters.

Mackay says he was motivated to attempt the record primarily for the challenge of it. “The most rewarding things in the world are often difficult. So often, as people with disabilities, we focus on what we can’t do. I have thrived by pushing that envelope and trying to see what else is possible out there,” he says.

Ian Mackay had a full support team throughout his record attempt. New Mobility

The record attempt took months of planning and a team of dedicated volunteers. Mackay has done several other long-distance rides to raise awareness about the need for accessible outdoor recreation but nothing so demanding in such a short time frame. For safety and support, volunteers drove a support vehicle and rode bikes alongside Mackay for the entirety of the ride. Mackay used lithium-ion batteries for increased range, and his support crew swapped in fresh batteries on the road, ensuring minimal downtime.

There were no major problems or technical issues during the event, but Mackay’s temperature did drop to almost 95 degrees in the coldest hours of the night, prompting a quick stop to warm up in a van. Still, Mackay said the physical challenges weren’t the most difficult part of the ride.

“I didn’t count on the emotional lows,” he says. “I thought it would be more physical, but it was definitely more emotional. It was difficult. You start thinking about why the hell you are out here and asking, can I really do this?”

After the 24-hour roller coaster, Mackay has already learned an important lesson. “I think what you have to do is embrace the misery from the get-go,” he says.

Despite being exhausted from the event, Mackay has another, ongoing challenge to pursue. He vowed to be back in his chair the following day to maintain his streak of over 2,000 days that he has driven at least one mile on an outdoor trail.

Before the record can become official, Guinness World Record keepers must verify it. The previous record was set by South Korea’s Chang-Hyuan Choi in April 2017.

For more on the record or to learn more about Mackay and his nonprofit Ian’s ride, visit iansride.com.
Ian Ruder
I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of the New Mobility team for the last decade, including the last three as the editor. In that role I’ve focused on making sure NM has its fingers on the pulse of the mobility disability community. I take pride in ensuring that we are sharing stories and resources that help our readers live their lives to the fullest. When I’m not talking with our freelancers and staff or working at my computer, there’s a good chance you’ll find me seeking out one of Oregon’s famous “sunbreaks” in my hometown of Portland. I love to eat and cook (in that order) and embrace my nerdy side with a lifelong passion for Star Wars and a rediscovered adult love of Legos.

Source New Mobility

Also see
Ian Mackay: The Trail King New Mobility
Switch Control Apple Mobility
The Coyote Adaptive Off-Road Vehicle New Mobility

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