In October, Shangrila Rendon set out to push herself and inspire others with “Beyond Myself,” her personal challenge to complete 34 Ironman-distance triathlons in 34 days, set a Guinness World Record, and raise money for four different charities. Shangrila and her wife Vineta Rendon created a racecourse in Long Beach after COVID-19 caused the cancelation of organized races.
Shangrila entered the water of Alamitos Bay on Oct. 19, full of optimism and surrounded by supporters. Local news channels taped interviews and documentary filmmakers recorded footage. Hordes of volunteers signed up to swim, bike, and run beside the triathlete; other volunteers committed to chronicle her official distances and finish times. Vineta planned to manage the food and equipment, the volunteer assignments, and communications for the entire operation.
On Day Four, the logistics of coordinating everything overwhelmed the couple. Rest and recovery had become impossible. After racing 140.6 miles each day, Shangrila was only sleeping four hours at night.
“I was not alert, I felt unsafe,” Shangrila said. “I didn’t remember to snap my bike helmet and I was dozing while I was riding and swimming.”
They decided to stop and re-evaluate the situation. Three leaders (Amy Purvis, Monica Busby and Cheryl Vianzon) committed to help Vineta manage the project. On days when the bay water was prohibitively cold, the team secured access to the heated Belmont pool. They shifted the bike route from the San Gabriel River Trail to the Los Angeles River Trail and moved the run from the Belmont Beach Path to a marathon course downtown.
These adjustments would allow for shorter transition times and keep Shangrila closer to the support crew at the Golden Shore RV Resort. On Oct. 30, Shangrila reset the 34-day clock and restarted her challenge.
“I wanted to keep my word with the 34 days,” Shangrila said. “I believed in myself, I knew I had trained. I started taking iron supplements and trying to get six hours of sleep each night.”
Things improved dramatically. Shangrila completed 10 straight days of Ironman distances before taking any days off. She paid close attention to her body, feeling pain and exhaustion, but avoiding injuries. On Dec. 2, she completed her 23rd Ironman-distance triathlon.
In just over a month, Shangrila Rendon managed to swim 55.2 miles, bike 2,576 miles, and run 602.6 miles. In nine instances, she finished the 140.6 mile race in less than 14 hours.
“There were times when I couldn’t even walk, but I just kept going,” Shangrila said. “I’m very glad to be done and very pleased with the times. I think I’m actually stronger now.”
She praised the support of her wife, her medical team, and her wonderful core of volunteers.
“We had about 150 people helping us,” she said. “Spending time with them was one of my greatest joys.”
Shangrila embarked on this challenge to “empower women and save children.” To date, $3,000 has been donated to support these causes. To learn more about the “Beyond Myself” project or contribute to Shangrila’s selected charities, go to www.shangrilarendon.com/beyondmyselfproject.