Pain. Fatigue. Skin literally peeling off of her. And the rain. My word, man, the rain.
None of that matters now to Vernon’s Shanda Hill, who completed the gruelling 2023 Swissultra Double Deca Triathlon Race in Buchs, Switzerland Friday morning, Sept. 15.
Hill’s extraordinary achievement took her through 76 kilometres of swimming, 3,600 kms of cycling and finishing with an 844 km run in 26 days.
Her overall time of 625 hours and 21 minutes obliterated her previous Double Deca record by more than 20 hours.
Before crossing the finish line, draped in a Canadian flag, Hill hugged the two race volunteers holding the finish banner, then calmly stepped over it, fighting back tears.
“Shanda crushed this challenge,” wrote her support crew under a video of her crossing the finish line.
“This is a remarkable testament to Shanda’s unyielding determination and unparalleled courage.”
To give you an example, here’s what her crew wrote Thursday:
“The torrential rain has dampened her spirits. She finds herself in constant pain. The skin on her feet has come off, and the rain and inability to stay dry have made taping her feet tricky. She said where the skin has worn away from constant friction from running, the nerve endings are rubbing on her shoes, causing immense pain.
“She is also dealing with an ankle still majorly injured on her heel. In addition, the injury on her glute has made any rest impossible. The damage to her glute muscle is in constant, overwhelming pain. As she runs into her last night, the loneliness on the course, enveloped in rain, has caused her to sink into a dark place in her mind. Half the athletes have completed the Double Deca and have gone home, so she is left to run alone through most of the night.
“The rain brings giant slugs, which in the night, if she steps on one and slips on it, could further injure herself. Through it all, she keeps going.”
Hill finished in second place in the women’s division behind Alexandra Meixner of Austria, and was seventh overall out of 13 in the Double Deca race. As of Friday morning, there were still three men and two women on the course.
Hill’s goal entering Buchs was to beat the previous record of 633 hours set in 2019 by her competitor, Laura Knoblach, and also Hill’s prior record of 646 hours.
Her support crew said Hill “extends her heartfelt gratitude to her sponsors at Reimer Bros Trucking, Keith Construction and Rancho Vignola, as well as each and every one of you for your unwavering support.”