'Something bigger than me': Shanda Hill first Canadian to finish Double Deca | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'Something bigger than me': Shanda Hill first Canadian to finish Double Deca

Shanda Hill, left, and Laura Knoblach share a moment on the side of the two-kilometre loop in Leon, Mexico. Hill became the first Canadian, her team says, to complete a double deca triathlon Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Shanda Hill Ultra Athlete
November 01, 2019 - 2:52 PM

For Shanda Hill, it was four weeks of trials and tribulations, successes and hardships.

But, as she crossed the finish line in Mexico Thursday, Oct. 31, the Vernon ultra-athlete became the first Canadian to complete a Double Deca triathlon.

Over the course of 26 days in León, Mexico, Hill swam 76 kilometres, biked 3,600 kilometres and ran 844 kilometres. It’s the equivalent of 20 Ironman triathlons in a row.

“I don’t care if it’s fifth or sixth. I’m just excited that there’s more women in the sport that we’re making history as having four women right now that are looking to complete this race. I don’t care what my number is,” Hill said Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Before the race in Mexico, only one woman, Sylvia Andonie, had ever completed the race. That was in 1998. Now, in 2019, women fill half of the roster of racers set to complete the Double Deca. Laura Knoblach of the US was the second woman to finish the race. Shortly after Hill completed her run, Claire Smith of the United Kingdom finished hers.

On Tuesday night, she still had nearly 150 kilometres left to run on a two-kilometre paved loop. The sun beats down upon the pavement as the runners complete the track. One one side is a rock wall. Camps and resting points line the other wall of the track.

“People are tired, but it’s picking up because we’re over the hump. We’re over the 400K mark. Once you're over the 400K mark, people start to get alive again,” Hill said.

Over 26-day race, Hill fought inclement weather, sweltering heat, chlorine burns and blisters. On day 21, Hill appeared to have food poisoning. Four days before she finished, Hill had an exposed nerve-ending on one of her toes.

David Hill, Shanda Hill’s uncle from Burnaby, said his niece is no stranger to overcoming adversity.

When riding her BMX from Vernon to her parent’s home on Silver Star Mountain in 2003, Hill was struck from behind by a vehicle. Her body flew approximately 30 feet across the pavement. Her friend performed C-Spine Control on scene and waited for an ambulance.

“The first vague memory I have after the accident is of very bright lights, which I guess were the lights on the ceiling of the hospital,” Hill writes in the biography on her website. “They seemed blinding and then everything went fuzzy again. The next memory is of my best friend being at the hospital and someone telling me that my parents were on their way back from Kelowna where they had been for the day.”

Hill sustained a fractured back and brain damage from the accident. Nearly two decades later, Hill still experiences headaches, sensitivity to light, dizziness and swelling of the back of her neck.

“To this day, I still experience swelling, tenderness, and headaches after running,” Hill’s biography reads.

In 2017 Shanda Hill was ranked No. 1 in female Ultra Athletes in the world by the IUTA. She made an IUTA confirmed World Record as the first female to ever complete two Decas (10x Triathlons) in a year. In August 2017, in Buchs, Switzerland, she came in second female overall. Hill then went on to complete a second Deca two months later in October 2017 at León, Mexico, where she placed 1st for females overall.

Two days before she completed her first Double Deca triathlon, Hill teared up when she heard about the support she has in Canada – from her family, her partner and her community.

“When I know that it’s something bigger than me, and maybe motivating one person and that I have a community backing me and people in Canada that care, that kept me going when I had some low points."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Parker Crook or call (250) 864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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