Houston nurse, 60, sets record in Death Valley's Badwater ultra-marathon

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - Earlier this month, we told you about a local woman aiming to break a record in Death Valley's Badwater Ultra-Marathon. We've learned Pamela Chapman Markle has reached her goal.

Health reporter Haley Hernandez told us about Markle's challenge to endure a foot race that's longer than 100 miles in some of the harshest conditions.

The Houston Methodist Hospital employee told us Saturday that she set a new record by three hours.

Our congratulations to Markle on a job well done!


Badwater ultra-marathan is considered the toughest race in the world, taking runners through Death Valley in California. It's 135 miles with equally high temperatures.

"It's been 129 degrees every day in Death Valley this week," Pamela Chapman Markle said.

Badwater allows athletes 48 hours to run 135 miles in temperatures so hot it will melt the soles off your shoes.

While most participants don't even finish the course, 60-year-old Pamela Chapman Markle doesn't just plan to participate, she wants to prove something.

"I have a goal to beat the course record that is held there right now for 60-year-old woman. The record is at 44 hours and I intend to do between 38 and 40," she said.

As a nurse anesthetist at Houston Methodist, she knows what she needs to do to take care of her body along the course, even though the course will not cater to her needs.

"You're going to be tired because you start the race at night time, so I'm going to miss two nights of sleep," she said. "There's no aid stations, the water that I have to have or the electrolytes that I have to have dropped off to me in a van… about every 2 miles or 3 miles."

She's obviously no rookie, but what she's glazing over is how she's won her age group in every competition she's ever raced and thinks the Houston heat has primed her to blow away Badwater.

She knows Badwater is not a competition for the weak, but if she can do it, she challenges you to ask yourself what you're capable of accomplishing.

"My whole goal is to teach women my age there is nothing powerless about you, you are extremely strong and if you have the faith to believe in that, no matter what your mind tells you, then you can do it. My mind tells me to quit about 50 miles into the race, every race I have and I know it's just someone talking to me that doesn't need to be there," she said.

The race is July 18 in California.

2016 Click2Houston/KPRC2