• Categories: 21st Century

Shusanah Pillinger, extreme athlete, became the first British woman to complete the “world’s toughest cycle race” in 2015. She finished the 3004 mile non-stop solo Race Across America (RAAM) in 12 days, 9 hours and 14 minutes after pedalling from the West coast to the East coast on just 2 hours sleep a day.

Shusanah (or Shu) grew up on the Hertfordshire / Cambridgeshire border and has lived in St Albans since 2009. Whilst working in London, she discovered triathlon and soon found that she enjoyed the bike leg of the event the most. Moving out of London encouraged her to start cycling longer distances instead of getting the train to work, a commute she still does by bike. She has cycled from London to Paris, John O’Groats to Land’s End, London to Edinburgh and back to London amongst other rides. Winning a 24 hour continuous cycling time trial in 2012 qualified her to take part in RAAM. In 2013 she became the National Ladies Ultra-triathlon Champion, competing over a double Ironman distance (4.8 mile swim, 232 mile bike and 52.4 mile run one straight after the next).

After winning a 400 mile cycle race across India in 2014, she recruited 9 crew, raised funds and organised logistics to make the start of RAAM that year. Alas a finish was not possible after she fell asleep 9 days and 2150 miles into the transcontinental race, falling from her bike and breaking a collarbone. Undeterred and driven by the desire to be the first British woman to complete the race (in its 35 year history), she recovered, put in many more miles of training whilst working full time, recruited another crew of 8 people to drive 3 support vehicles across the USA, raised the necessary finances again and set about taking on RAAM in June 2015. This time she completed the race and was nominated for the BT Sport Action Woman of the Month award!

Shu delivers motivational talks about the experiences of ultra endurance racing, coaches cycling and mentors people wishing to embark on bigger and bigger challenges. She is still regularly in training for Ironman triathlons and other ultra events.

Photos credited to RAAM Media and Mike Moore.
RAAM Media finishlineCredit Mike Moore