Pamela Chapman Markle: Breaking Records at Age 63

I am a 63, soon to be 64-year-old wife, mother, grandmother and cancer survivor. I have worked as a CRNA for the last 35 years, putting over 150,000 patients to sleep and bringing all of them back. I am a licensed sailboat captain and ran my first footrace of any distance at age 55 in 2011.

Since then I have completed close to 50 ultramarathons, including the Keys 100 six times, winning my age group each time and further setting age group course records in the Brazil 135, the Arkansas Traveler 100, Rocky Raccoon 100 and multiple other races. I have finished the Badwater 135 four times, setting an age group course record each time and finishing 3rd overall female in 2017. In 2019, I won the Badwater 3 race UltraCup over all female entrants, as the oldest runner. I have set the all-time age group USA records in the 100k, 100 mile and 12, 24- and 48-hour races. I currently hold the USA records in the 100k, 12 hour and 24-hour races as well as the world record in the 12-hour race.

I intend to be the first female to finish the Badwater 135 ten times over the age of 60 and further intend to break the USA and world records for the 50 mile, 100k, 12 hour, 100 mile, 24 hour, 48 hour and 6 day races in the 65-69 age group while holding all of these records in the 60-64 age group.

So, what motivated me to start? I had been delivering anesthesia to a surgeon for several years who ran Ultra Marathons. He ran 50 miles and was 10 years older than me. He encouraged me to run one. I had never run any marathon before because I don’t like running in crowds. There was one in Texas called, “Rocky Raccoon.” I decided to attempt it and put it on my, “bucket list.” When I went to sign up, the 50 mile was full. I signed up for the 100 Mile and that was my very first race! Not being properly trained for a trail race, the injuries were many, but I did finish it in 28 hours!

What inspires me now? I love to continue to learn and challenge my mind and body. The fact that with a little knowledge and a lot of training, I can increase my speed, it keeps me in charge of my health as an aging adult. I am in excellent shape and eat extremely well. I feel this is such a bonus for preventative health care. I continue to exceed my own expectations and am in such awe at how well the body responds to all of its demands. It allows me to be confident as an older athlete in a sport that I am competing with people half my age or more.

My favorite race? Badwater 135! I love this race! It challenges every aspect of your body, mind, and spirit. This year I had a new crew which initially made me nervous, but they turned out to be the best crew ever. They believed in my goals, listened to our plan and helped me achieve it. I was ahead of my time by about 2 hours comparing last year’s time, until I came out of Darwin.

A sandstorm came through and I slipped going downhill and landed on my nose, breaking it. That cost me about 35 minutes, and I knew I had a slight concussion because I kept throwing up and couldn’t keep anything down. With the help of my crew I finished the race and still beat last year’s time by 28 minutes!  New Course age Record!

What can I say to the aging athletes? Just do it! Do not feel intimidated! All the people younger than you do not have the mental training that you have had. It is definitely what will carry you from 50 miles on!

All of life’s challenges, good times, bad times, strengths and weaknesses will imprint a survival skill in your mind. No matter what happens you are more prepared to complete an Ultra Marathon because you have had an Ultra Life! I want to see you out there!

To keep up with Pam and her accomplishments, follow her on Instagram @ultrapam100.