Shangrila

Shangrila Rendon stands by the Belmont Shore beach path, where she'll try to set a world record for consecutive Ironman races.

A 2005 sexual assault changed the life of 24-year-old Shangrila Rendon. The attack, which triggered flashbacks of her childhood sexual abuse, sent her into a downward spiral.

Rendon said she quit her engineering studies and suddenly stopped caring about anything. She battled depression, developed eating disorders and used alcohol to escape her emotional pain.

With professional guidance and hard work, Rendon emerged from the darkness to become a feisty and fiercely competitive athlete. Now a 39-year-old professional coach and international endurance race champion, Rendon plans to use her fighting spirit to set a Guinness World Record in Long Beach.

On Oct. 19, Shangrila Rendon will step into the waters of Alamitos Bay and embark on the biggest challenge of her life. Her “Beyond Myself Project” consists of completing 34 full Ironman distances in 34 consecutive days. In just over a month, Rendon will swim a total of 81.6 miles in Alamitos Bay, bike a total of 3,808 miles along the San Gabriel River Trail, and run a total of 890.8 miles on the Belmont Shore beach path. She hopes her project will not only set a world record, but also lift and inspire others who are facing difficulties.

“I started dreaming big and I got the help that I needed,” Rendon said. “I had a lot of failures, but I kept pushing and trying.”

A non-athlete until her mid-20s, Rendon said that running helped relieve stress after her assault. Long runs became a habit, so she started racing marathons.

Eager to expand her horizons, she was drawn to triathlons (even though she did not own a bike and did not know how to swim). Rendon started off with short events, like the 2009 sprint distance triathlon in Long Beach. In 2010, she finished her first full Ironman, swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles at the Vineman Triathlon in Sonoma County. She analyzed her results, determined to find ways to go faster and farther.

Having discovered an ability to endure extreme distances, Rendon traveled to Mexico for a five-day, five-Ironman event in 2015. She surprised herself and set a Guinness World Record at the race. In Switzerland in 2016, Rendon topped her own achievement, completing eight Ironman races in eight days.

Her current challenge, 34 consecutive Ironman races, will take place much closer to home. Rendon will run, bike and swim in Long Beach, on streets and waterways that she knows and uses regularly. The 34-day event will eclipse any of her past efforts, but she said she is ready.

Rendon said she trains for up to 12 hours a day, but she pays close attention to her body, seeking balance with rest and recovery periods. Fueled by a strong belief in herself, Rendon said she also gets tremendous support from her wife, Vineta.

Vineta described this project as the largest and most difficult event Shangrila has tackled so far. She said she hopes it inspires others to go after their dreams, as Shangrila has.

“Shangrila achieves what she sets her mind to because she has learned to quiet the mental and emotional chatter in her mind and body that stops others from taking the necessary actions to achieve success,” Rendon’s life coach, Polly Mertens, said. “I believe she will be successful because her purpose and motivation for these races is greater than herself.”

Rendon agreed, saying “my WHYs are very close to my heart. So these will move me forward.”

Rendon’s “Beyond Myself Project” will support four nonprofit organizations: the Downtown Women’s Center, the Children’s Institute, Paws 4 Success, and SJVRC (which helps abused children in the Philippines and underprivileged children in Vietnam). Donations can be made at www.shangrilarendon.com/beyondmyselfproject. Those interested in volunteering to help with race logistics can also sign up through this link.

The “Beyond Myself Project” will begin at 6:30 a.m. Oct. 19 in Alamitos Bay and continue daily through Nov. 21.

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