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Ultra Endurance - The Race Across America

The Race Across America (RAAM) spans 3,000 miles coast-to-coast, beginning in Oceanside, CA and finishing in Annapolis, MD. The race is recognised as the world's most gruelling cyclist event and attracts competitors from all over the world, with cyclists from 35 different countries participating in the recent 2014 event. 2015 will see the 34th anniversary of the RAAM, making it one of America's longest running ultra-cycling events.

Shusanah Pillinger, an accomplished ultra-endurance athlete, set out to become the first British solo female to complete RAAM. Shu has previously completed events including the Race Around Ireland, Ironman, Double Ironman and various time trials which allowed her to qualify for the RAAM solo event. After two years of preparation, including assessment and strategic support from the sports scientists at GSK Human Performance Lab, Shu suffered an unfortunate slip and broke her collarbone 9 days into the race. The accident was due to sleep deprivation, and previous to the race Shu had already expressed her concern, in an interview during a visit to the Human Performance Lab, about the lack of sleep during the race:

"Sleep is going to be my biggest challenge - trying not to fall off the bike. Driving through the desert, the road is long, dull and boring. The route is difficult to start off with, but after the first 1,000 miles it's mainly flat and that's where I'll have the most sleep deprivation issues. The crew have got some funny costumes to keep me alert."

Matt Furber, the scientist at the GSK Human Performance Lab who accompanied Shu throughout RAAM, closely observed the athlete in order to gain further insights into the endurance, hydration, metabolic and cognitive demands of this gruelling event, . Matt monitored Shu's weight, nutrition, hydration, fatigue, risk of injury and the racing conditions with the purpose of getting Shu to the finish line within the allocated 12 days and 21 hours. Matt's research showed that up until day 9, Shu was performing extremely well; she was maintaining speed, there was little fluctuation in her core temperature and her food diary showed her nutrition was on track too. He believed Shu would have had no problem completing the race.

Shu and Matt will speak at the GSK Human Performance Lab's live webinar to discuss their insights into ultra-endurance. The topics they will cover include the physiological and cognitive demands of RAAM, the challenges of sleep deprivation and Shu's nutrition and hydration strategies. There will be an opportunity for participants to ask Shu, team medic Erica Ley and the Human Performance Lab's scientists questions at the end of the session.

You can sign up here for the Webinar that will take place on the 7th August:





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