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Age Is Just A Number – Pamela Chapman-Markle

Age Is Just A Number Pamela Chapman How It All Started
Pamela Chapman-Markle
Year started: 2011
Next race: July 19-21, 2021 - Badwater 135
Favorite gear:

Topo Athletic Running Shoes

Age is just a number is what I tell myself today. That wasn’t always the case but I am active and overdoing this belief that age is a limiter. I have always been active, which included participating in sports in high school. At age 19, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I outlived my prognosis and decided to follow through with the promises I made myself if I survived! I stayed extremely healthy, teaching aerobics, swimming, walking, running, and eating healthy.

A single parent to three girls, as I had divorced when they were very small, I continued to stay committed to my health and raised my girls to be healthy, too. Today, I have 6 healthy grandchildren! I was able to put all three of my children through college while working as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. I spent my career doing anesthesia and was fortunate to work with a plastic surgeon who had run 50 mile ultramarathons. Throughout the years I spoke with him a lot about his running and he encouraged me to do an ultramarathon.

Ultramarathon Surprise: A 100-Mile Journey Unplanned

The idea of running a ‘regular’ marathon did not appeal to me because I do not like running with crowds. Despite that, I decided to put ONE ultramarathon on my bucket list. As luck would have it, I went to sign up for a 50 mile race and it was sold out. This put me on the registration page for the 100 MILE race! I found as I tried to research this race, there were not many books on running this distance. My training volume at the time was ‘only’ 34 miles a week, but I decided to run “Rocky Raccoon” since it was the only race close to me in Texas.

Lessons from the Trails: Rocky Raccoon Reflections

Rocky Raccoon is a trail race, whose name should be Rooty Raccoon! I trained on roads because I live close to Galveston, TX and there aren’t many options for training on a trail. At the time, I was 55 years old, and ran the race un-crewed. It wasn’t pretty! I had a stress fracture, was hyponatremic, and had horrible vision because it had gotten 19 degrees out and I left me freezing. I managed to finish the race in 28:XX (that’s 28+ hours!!!!)

Keys to Ultrarunning Passion: A Love Story with the Keys 100

I then had a tremendous amount of time to think about how I could do this all over again, only better and without injury. Searching for a road race in warm weather, I found the Keys 100. The following year after Rocky Raccoon, I raced the Keys 100. My finish time was 25 hours but more importantly without injury and fell in love with ultrarunning!

Representing at 65: Spartathlon and Beyond

I keep going because I learn from every race on what I could do better, and I make those adjustments. My times over 10 years have gotten faster. I have raced the Badwater 135 four times and have been breaking the age course record every year. I’ll be headed back in 2021 to do it again. I have also qualified for the Spartathlon 151 Miles in Greece that I will be going with 11 runners to represent the USA. I am excited to represent as the oldest female on the team.

Defying Aging Stereotypes: Records, Podiums, and More

If you think that 65 is old then it probably is to you, but I don’t look at my age as a deterrent or a distraction. I hold 5 USA Records and one World Record and I intend on adding 3 more records this year.

At 65 it can be hard to put the miles on my feet, but with the proper recovery I am able to get out on the roads and trails to train and race without many issues. This training has given me the opportunity to be well respected by all age groups in the ultraunning community. Four years into my ultrarunning career, I ran Brazil 135 and was 3rd overall female and 15th overall, which means everyone, both men and women. I have stood on the podium at Badwater 135 and I’ve won The Badwater Cup.

Running My Own Race: Competing with Myself

I have found my competition is not always an age group competitor, but to compete with myself. I believe that allows me to be happy and keep going as an older athlete. It allows me to keep it at the forefront of my mind to run my own race! I have been proud to be a guest speaker in England, as well. The amazing athletes of all ages were very welcoming and energetic. Age is just a number and through ultra running, I am pushing boundaries.