Nancy Shura: Badwater Newbie

By Greg Minter

Despite having received news earlier in the week that her cousin had been killed in an unfortunate car accident, Nancy Shura decided to press on with her plans for a first attempt at the 135-mile Kiehl's Badwater Ultramarathon. Back in Los Angeles, Nancy runs with the New Basin Blues (, and started a running group called the 'UltraLadies' ( That group is devoted to bringing new runners into the ultra-community by training together for the Bulldog 50K in Malibu, CA. But even for an experienced runner, a first attempt at Badwater makes one a newbie all over again.

Crew member Mike Stephens, a nurse at UCLA, gave some insight into how nerves and the elements can disrupt a runner's routine. "Her resting heart rate was 57 when she woke up. By the time we got to the start, she was up over 120." To be expected, with the daunting prospect of crossing Death Valley, Panamint Valley, and Owens Valley. Oh yes, and with climbs up three mountain ranges to boot.

As she approached Furnace Creek, Nancy said "I'm feeling better. I ate too much for breakfast, so I had kind of a rough hour. But the last hour has been pretty good. And it's amazing how good the breeze feels against your shirt when it's wet!"

Her significant other, Larry Dervin, looked comfortable in the 110 degree sun, dressed in his customary straw hat, cut off shirt, and tan shorts. When pressed he observed that "It's all ego driven. But that's not a bad thing. You have to say to yourself 'I can do this. I want to do this.' You can't do it because you saw someone else do it and think you're proving something by doing what they did."

"She's been anxious," said daughter Heather. "Not nervous, but she's been anxious to get out here."