“My mountain bike is worth more than my
– Dr Cathryn Zeglinski
She grew up skiing on the side of a riverbank. Weathered the frigid Manitoba winters of her youth to eventually be crowned provincial ski champ there. But even as a teenager Cathryn Zeglinski knew she’d never become the true prairie girl her mother wanted her to be. “I always dreamed of living in the mountains,” says the founder and director of Whistler’s groundbreaking Northlands Medical Clinic. She pauses for a few beats. Her smile reveals just a hint of her maverick side. “Mountains create their own world,” she explains. “They have their own rules; their own ways of dealing with things. And that’s always intrigued me.”
Seems that Zeglinski has always been fascinated by rules and limits — and how far she can push them. In many ways, her story is a classic Canadian tale of challenges met and obstacles overcome. “My dad is an immigrant from Poland,” she tells me. “He was a child of World War II. You know, living in a mud hut and cooking over a dung fire. My mum is a third-generation prairie girl. Comes from tough farming stock that stretches right back to the Red River days. We grew up on the outskirts of Winnipeg.” She laughs. “And if you can survive the cold there, you can survive just about anything.”
She was the family tomboy, adds the lifelong athlete. A kid who virtually lived for outdoor adventures. “In fact, until I was 12, most people thought I was a boy,” she says. “There were no restrictions. You see, my dad convinced me when I was quite young that I could achieve whatever I set my mind to. And that gave me a unique perspective on life. It made me a far more resilient person, I think.”
No question. It also nurtured a daunting work ethic in Zeglinski. Medical practitioner, entrepreneur, researcher, mother, spouse, high performance athlete — there isn’t much that Cathryn does that isn’t done at a very high level. “I try to live by what I preach,” says the oldest female competitor at this year’s gruelling La Ruta de los Conquistadores mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica. “For me, there’s no such thing as: ‘I can’t.’ It’s all about going out there and doing what you have to do to make it happen.”
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