‘It’s limitless what you actually can do’: Vernon’s ultra athlete

Vernon athlete Shanda Hill goes the distance by completing a Double Deca in Leon, Mexico, on Oct. 31, 2019. (Facebook photo)

Vernon’s own Shanda Hill has sprinted into the record books, as the first Canadian to complete a Double Deca triathlon.

The ultra athlete finished the Double Deca Classic in Leon, Mexico, last Thursday, Oct. 31, placing second in the female division and fifth overall.

The Double Deca is the equivalent of 20 Ironman triathlon races, in a row.

She swam 76 kilometres, biked 3,600 and ran 844 km. And she did it in just 26 days (a little over 646 hours).

“The hardest part for me was when I got food poisoning and waking up feeling entirely gutted from top to bottom. I didn’t have enough energy to even pull myself out of the tent and all of a sudden you have to go out and complete two marathons that day,” Hill told the Morning Star.

Hill was actually in first prior to the food poisoning but then slipped into second during the cycling portion.

With her hands and feet shrivelled up like raisins, the swim was also a challenge.

“When you’re in a pool swimming for 50 to 60 hours, you have chlorine burns in your nose and your tongue goes numb for a while.”

Aside from it all, including the excruciating shin splints, oozing blisters and extreme fatigue, Hill says it was all worth it.

“I’m hoping it will show other females now that there is a way to do it,” she said in between her three to four daily ice baths.

“It’s limitless what you actually can do.”

Competing alongside other extreme athletes was the best part, as they each drew inspiration from each other and cheered each other on.

“You’re talking about .001 per cent of the population who will wrap their heads around doing this (a Double Deca),” Hill said.

“You learn from the people.”

But even more rewarding is the support Hill felt from across the country, province and particularly her hometown of Vernon.

“When I first contacted home and found out what was going on I just cried because I didn’t know what else to do.

“When people pay attention and write messages it’s always going to be incredibly humbling.”

The tears are sure to be streaming again on Sunday, Nov. 10, at a special homecoming party at Iron Heart Gym, 2 p.m.

“It’s inevitable,” said Hill, who came home from Mexico on Tuesday.

And she is ready to help anyone else who wants to take such feats.

“If any women come to me and I can help them I’m 100 per cent for it.”

Only one woman in the world, Sylvia Andonie, had ever achieved finished the Double Deca in the past back in 1998. Yet in 2019, half of the race competitors were women.

Among those who completed the 2019 Double Deca was Laura Knoblach of the U.S.

She finished about nine hours ahead of the current world record to claim first place and a new world record.

Coming in third place was Claire Smith from the United Kingdom — completing the race in 27 days.

But at 37 years old and coming in second place, Hill has made her hometown, her province and her country incredibly proud.

Among those proud followers is her little brother Kevin Hill.

“I talked to her for about 20 seconds after she finished the race and said: ‘Congratulations, good job. you’re crazy,’” said Kevin, a top Canadian snowboard cross athlete.

“I’m sure her feet are hurting pretty darn bad.

“My mom’s probably one of the more emotional ones in the family, she’s all excited and probably happy she (Shanda) didn’t die.”

Although athleticism runs in the family, Kevin still thinks his sister is crazy for even attempting the Double Deca — something he has no desire to ever do.

“I think she just wants to do things out of the ordinary. She tries to do things most people won’t do.

“And she loves proving people wrong, especially me if I tell her she can’t do something.”

Now that his big sister has shown him up, Kevin plans to continue stepping up his game on the mountain this winter.

“I gotta kick the younger kids butts. I don’t like to lose.”

READ MORE: Shanda Hill starts her racing year on a positive note

READ MORE: Vernon ultra athlete Shanda Hill awarded for excellence


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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