Ultracyclist Becomes First British Woman to Complete Race Across America

3,004 miles over 175,000 feet of climbing for 39-year-old from St Albans

Shusanah Pillinger has become the first British woman to complete the Race Across America (RAAM) solo.

Pillinger rode the 3,004 miles from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland in 12 days, nine hours and 14 minutes.

She climbed 175,000 ft along the way and has raised nearly £6,000 for Herts Air Ambulance. 

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The cut off for women is 12 days and 21 hours and the last attempt was made by Gloucester’s Ann Wooldridge, in 2009. Injury meant Wooldridge finished a day over the time limit.

39-year-old Pilinger was the third fastest woman of three – Isabelle Pulver from Switzerland being the fastest, completing the journey in 10 days, 21 hours and seven minutes.

This was Pillinger’s second attempt at the race. Only last year, she was forced to abandon 2,200 miles in after breaking her collorbone – when she fell asleep on the bike. Not one to be deterred, Pillinger had a titanium plate and six screws in her arm and took to the start line this year.

Touring bike set up

Following completion of the journey, Pilinger said: “It’s been something I’ve been trying to do for some time. The goal coming into this was to finish, purely because I have a nice big piece of metal in my arm and six screws from last year’s attempt.

“Some people said I shouldn’t have been on the start line so quickly, but this arm has been perfect.”

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The IT worker from St Albans is a self-funded adventurer and she’ll be adding the RAAM to a list of achievements, including completing a double Enduroman, winning the Deccan Cliffhanger 400 mile race in India, and swimming from the US to the UK.

During the challenge, Shu was supported by 8 friends called ‘The Shu Crew’. She was getting around 70 minutes of sleep each ‘night’, then short 25 minute bursts throughout the day.

Intense heat on the journey meant she had to swallow a core temperature thermometer, which would alert the crew if she became too hot, sending them running with ice and aid.

Pilinger suffered hallucinations along the way, and did fall asleep on the bike a couple of times – thankfully with less catastrophic effects than last year’s race ending doze.

So far, Pilinger has raised £5,876.24 for Herts Air Ambulance – meeting 78 per cent of her £7,500 target. We extend our utmost congratulations to her for this achievement!

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