[Sticky] The Truth about Ragen Chastain

[Note to readers: please see the related post, Is Ragen wrong about everything?]

In Ragen’s recent drama post about “stalkers” at her IRONMAN 70.3, she claims the only criticism she ever receives is “trolls” demanding explanations for certain minor and unimportant details from her past. She goes on to theorize about why she receives so much “abuse”.

Often they try to justify their trolling – they say I deserve it because they disagree with me that fat people should be treated like human beings, or they disagree with the science behind HAES, or they believe me to be a liar/fraud/devil incarnate, one simile-happy troll recently compared me to Joe Camel.

This blog as well as Reddit and GOMI are overwhelmingly the main sources of true criticism about Ragen. Regular readers of all these sites will of course realize nobody agrees with the ridiculous notion that fat people shouldn’t be treated like human beings. However, the “science” of HAES as interpreted by Ragen is absolutely disputed, and Ragen has been shown to be a fraud and liar on many occasions. Both the latter points are completely valid criticisms of someone claiming to be an internationally recognized thought leader and expert on the obesity who has devoted her life to “activism” and is supposedly one of the most hated women on the internet because of her outspoken views.

Since Ragen appears to believe nobody has any valid criticism of her ideas and actions, we have compiled a list of issues we feel are important, most of which come from the archives of this blog. None of these criticisms hinge on Ragen’s current weight, nor do they disagree with or negate the positive aspects of fat acceptance and Ragen’s own activism. They do call into question her expertise on the science of obesity, her history of dishonest crowdfunding and solicitation of donations, the accuracy of her claims about a wide variety of subjects such as her athletics and the “harassment” she faces, and most importantly her profound lack of integrity. We publicly invite blog readers as well as Ms. Chastain to respond.

Medical Advice and Obesity Research

Dr. Ragen Chastain, MD

Ragen recently told a woman facing permanent blindness from from a medical condition that almost exclusively affects obese women to ignore her doctor’s advice and the position of the National Eye Institute, and demand a “thin person” treatment rather than attempt to lose just 5% of her weight. Ragen is totally unwilling to concede weight loss may improve a medical condition, or that significant weight loss is even achievable, so she told the woman that following her doctor’s recommendation of modest weight loss would most likely make her condition worse. A few weeks later, Ragen made it clear she had never even bothered to research the condition in a Dances with Fat post where she discussed the same condition with a different name.

This is only one of many examples of Ragen dispensing highly inappropriate medical advice. She even sells a postcard for people to show their doctors outlining her blanket denial of the health effects of obesity, and demanding they go against their medical standards and ethics and totally ignore body weight when diagnosing and determining the correct course of treatment.

Bad Science

Ragen does not believe obesity has any direct influence on health. Instead, health is dictated by genetics, environmental factors, blind luck, and the “healthy habits” of eating fruits and vegetables, not smoking, not drinking to excess, and occasionally getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise. Health is also not an obligation, so anyone should feel free to live an unhealthy life. Permanent weight loss is impossible, and any weight loss attempt will inevitably lead to regain and further weight increases. Since “correlation never implies causation” (Ragen’s abuse of this concept is a subject that deserves its separate post), it’s just as likely diabetes and other “obesity complications” actually cause obesity, rather than the other way around. And finally, any negative health effects of obesity that can’t be explained by another excuse are simply the stress of weight stigma from living in a fatphobic society.

The amount of doublethink necessary to accept so many conflicting ideas is quite astounding, but this sort of thinking forms the core of Ragen’s positions about medical science as well as society’s obligation to fully accommodate people of any size.

A good example of Ragen’s “research” is a study she frequently cites about the relationship between fitness, obesity, and health as proof obesity isn’t actually unhealthy. She fails to acknowledge the study subjects were at most mildly obese men, makes several inaccurate or misleading statements about the research, then inappropriately extrapolates the results to women who are hundreds of pounds overweight. Ragen’s armchair science analysis and cherry picking of this study and many others is fatally flawed by her own personal bias against admitting obesity may be unhealthy, but she refuses to address or even acknowledge any academic criticism. Instead she compares herself to Galileo and says she is bravely defending the truth in the face of all the evidence to the contrary from the fatphobic science community who are all in the pockets of the “sixty billion dollar a year diet industry”.

We also note Ragen generally only cites abstracts when referencing research, and since she has no position in academia, we question whether she actually has access to the full text of many of the journal papers mentioned on her blog.

Fake Credentials

Ragen titles herself with the academic-sounding credentials of “trained researcher”, says she “studied” various majors at UT Austin, refers to herself as a “UT alum”, and frequently talks about classes she took like “research methods” and “statistics”. University records and Ragen’s own Livejournal posts paint a decidedly unflattering picture of her lack of interest in academics, and show she attended UT Austin for a total of 7 years and never received a degree.

Ragen’s conduct in this respect is extremely misleading by even the most generous interpretation, and extremely dishonest in our opinion. She is presenting herself as a “trained” academic and expert on research methods, statistical analysis, and the science of obesity, who can be trusted over “biased” sources like the National Institute of Health. In reality, she is a college dropout who tried a number of different majors without achieving anything, and was proud of not having a single real passion in higher education.

Crowdfunding and Donations

Lack of Financial Transparency

It has now been 3 years, 8 months, and 16 days since Ragen promised full financial disclosure of the $21,000 raised for her “Support All Kids” billboards. Rather than posting this information as promised, she quickly removed almost all evidence of her involvement as well as the web site created for the campaign itself. Furthermore, the only evidence the billboards ever existed is a single photo of a bus shelter posted by one of her Facebook friends in Atlanta. This sort of lack of any real financial transparency as well as abandonment of projects paid for by others are typical of Ragen’s activism work.

Misuse of Donated Funds

In Our Own Words: A Fat Activist History was supposed to be a “verbal history” of the fat activism movement. On the GoFundMe page, Ragen promised to interview prominent fat activists as well as people of all walks of life underrepresented in fat activism. She posted a list of 15 women who had agreed to be interviewed, with the implication of further interviews to follow.

Instead, Ragen paid herself almost $2,200, and created a boilerplate WordPress site with a grand total of three short rambling interviews with atrocious video quality. She uncharacteristically broke down her expenses in great detail, but neglects to mention she spent $900 of the donation money on her salary and expenses for a trip to Florida to visit Lynn McAfee for an interview she never even conducted. At the height of the project while donations were still coming in, she claimed to have interviewed several other people such as Marilyn Wann, but as of today no further videos have surfaced. The last update was in October 2013, when Ragen said she planned to “continue working on the first phase of the project in ways that do not incur additional hard costs”.

Another infamous unfinished Ragen project funded by donations is the Size Diversity Task Force world record diet book papier-mâché ball, which was announced almost three years ago. Ragen accepted donations, organized a group to buy books and an “activism event” to create the ball, then nothing further happened. There have been no updates for almost two years, and as of today she is still asking for donations even though it is abundantly clear she has no intention of ever completing it.

A common theme in Ragen’s donation and crowdfunding is starting with big ideas, collecting as much money as possible, doing as little work as possible, then quietly washing her hands of the whole thing. In the past, Ragen made no secret about wanting “money for nothing and chicks for free“, her way of expressing a desire to live on passive income with as little work as possible. As with her disastrous IRONMAN attempt and almost all of her various achievements, she is judged on the idea and initial effort rather than the result, and never expected to actually fulfill her promises.

Fraudulent Solicitation

While soliciting donations in December 2012, Ragen wrote on Facebook that Size Diversity Task Force is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), which to the best of our knowledge is false, presumably making it a criminal offense. Since at present Ragen does not appear to operate a nonprofit or tax-exempt organization, we also question whether her donors realize they are funding Ragen’s personal income and for-profit businesses when they make a donation or contribute to her crowdfunding campaigns.

Inconsistent Stories

5,000 Little Lies

Ragen claims she was a victim of an organized attack campaign in 2012 where she was bombarded with 5,000 blog comments telling her to kill herself. She is totally unable to keep the details of this story consistent, and in every subsequent retelling she further exaggerates major details to the point it bears little semblance to the original. She recently started blaming Reddit for the “attack” even though it happened at least a year before the first time she was mentioned on the site. The evidence clearly shows Ragen didn’t receive anywhere close to 5,000 blog comments of any kind during this time period. This incident is a work of pure fiction and calls into question every single claim Ragen has ever made about the level of online harassment she faces from her “haters”.

Fat Shaming Doctors

Ragen is similarly inconsistent with the fat shaming knee doctor story. This encounter originated as a hypothetical story in her “Dealing at the Doctor’s Office” ebook, and quickly became a favourite piece she has rewritten several times. The narrative differences between each retelling are so great we don’t believe any version of this story is an accurate account of an interaction Ragen had with a doctor. There is also no plausible timeframe for this story to have taken place since Ragen’s activities are well-documented on her blogs going back as far as 2002. Finally, it is telling that neither Ragen nor her hypothetical doctor ever mentions highly relevant details like her shattered kneecap and knee implant.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with openly using a hypothetical situation to illustrate a point; Ragen presents this story and numerous other similar encounters with “fat shamers” in the medical establishment and society in general as faithful narrations. Given Ragen’s propensity for exaggeration and outright lying, it’s difficult to tell what is real and what is fiction on her blogs.

Misleading Claims and Outright Lies

Ragen’s Eating Disorder

One of Ragen’s most outrageous claims are the original details of her “eating disorder”. In recent years, she has been careful to not give specific numbers, but in the past she was extremely specific: for several years, she ate exactly 1100 calories (5 grams fat, 3 grams saturated) and exercised for up to 8-10 hours every day, before eventually collapsing on a treadmill at the gym and being hospitalized. Instead of becoming dangerously emaciated or dying like a normal person, she magically stopped losing weight and maintained the physique of a professional bodybuilder at 135 pounds and only 7% body fat. Upon her hospitalization and treatment for an eating disorder and “all the stress fractures”, she was placed on a restrictive diet by her doctors because they failed to recognize the exquisite specimen of the human form lying on the bed in front of them. She then gained 100 pounds within months.

When questioned by an incredulous host about whether she overeats and whether her eating disorder story was plausible during a 2009 radio interview, Ragen’s response was “my body does what it does”. Her entire weight loss history is full of similarly impossible claims, like gaining a pound a week during strict inpatient VLCD treatment while eating under 800 calories because she wasn’t allowed to exercise. Ragen uses her eating disorder as a major talking point in her activism, but it’s debatable whether she ever had an eating disorder at all, given most of the details she has shared about it are clearly impossible.

Fake Training Selfies

Throughout her IRONMAN 70.3 preparation, Ragen faced intense criticism over her lack of meaningful training updates, and skepticism over whether she was genuinely training as much as she claimed. Instead of sharing even the most basic details of her “proprietary” training plan, Ragen started posting weekly batches of training selfies to prove she was actually training. Analysis of GPS timestamps showed a number of her photos were taken only minutes apart, and Ragen had simply changed outfits and moved to different areas of her home to create the illusion of doing several different workouts. The evidence also showed she had specifically attempted to erase the timestamps to conceal her actions. She was caught doing the same thing in two further updates before finally learning how to properly strip image metadata, after which she was caught again by other means.

There is simply no defence because it was so blatantly obvious. It speaks to Ragen’s sincerity about her claims of weekly half-century bike rides, 24 mile long runs, “3-5 hours” of training every day, and so on. When questioned about it publicly by a Facebook “troll”, Ragen realized her followers had seen the comment before it was deleted and immediately shot back with a completely irrelevant straw man argument, followed by a litany of new claims of harassment to distract attention from what she did. She has yet to actually address the fake training selfies, and recently started posting more selfies with a huge disclaimer about removing all details to protect herself from “trolls” who want to rape and murder her.

Impossible Scheduling

Ragen has made some rather specific statements about how she spends her time doing activism every day. For instance, she writes detailed replies to an average of over 320 emails every single day (exactly 78,138 emails over 245 days); this may seem reasonable at first glance, but doing the math, it equates to an utterly ludicrous 11 hours of sustained effort, allowing just 2 minutes per email. She also says she spends at least 2 hours every day writing a blog post, 3-5 hours exercising, and significant amounts of time dealing with hundreds of abusive hate mails, several hundred Facebook messages, and all her other activism and athletic activities. Even her 30 small acts of activism every day add up.

Allowing even minimal time to eat and sleep, it’s simply impossible to reconcile these numbers with the 24 hours in a single day, but every month Ragen dutifully sends out a newsletter to her blog subscribers updating them on exactly how many new email requests she has replied to. This kind of ridiculous exaggeration of verifiably false details is indicative of the accuracy of similarly over the top claims only Ragen herself can verify, like the truly incredible volume of hate mail she supposedly receives.

“National Dance Champion”

Ragen describes herself as a “three time national dance champion” as evidence she is an elite professional “fathlete”. She has consistently refused to reveal any details about these titles when questioned, and the reason became obvious when her “haters” tracked down her results last year. Two of her dance titles are considered non-competitive social dancing for beginner students by the standards of the small pay-to-win dance circuit where she received them, and the third is at the lowest possible tier of novice competition. Ragen faced only one or two other couples in all cases because there is limited attendance at these extremely low levels. Also, the ACDA “national dance championships” have no pre-qualifying and are open to anyone who chooses to attend; they are “national championships” in name alone.

After 2005, Ragen spent several years attempting to compete at a more meaningful level without any success. Every year she posted about her plans to become a “masters champion”, or win big world championship titles, and every year she failed to win anything at any competitive event. On a number of occasions she bemoaned the fact her weight was making it impossible. Eventually she gave up on competitive dancing and simply declared herself a professional athlete. Ragen intentionally misrepresents how meaningful her non-competitive “national dance championships” are, and made every effort to keep their details a secret.Her CV is full of similar exaggerations, embellishments, and outright lies that go far beyond typical resume massaging. She also uses her dance titles to bolster the claim she is an elite fat athlete, when she herself admitted her weight was the reason she couldn’t advance further.

Elite Athletics

Ragen has made numerous claims about her athleticism over the years. As a child, she did ballet, jazz, horse riding, competitive figure skating, volleyball, soccer, baseball, gymnastics, and drill team. She was a cheerleading captain, multi-sport varsity athlete, and “all-state” athlete for all six years of high school. She was a lifeguard every year and “always won the annual lifeguard races”. As an adult she became a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer, and gym rat, spending several hours at the gym every day. She is now a professional athlete “in the top 5% in the country in strength, stamina, flexibility, and all medical markers of health” who maintains perfect bloodwork and blood pressure. She can leg press 1000 lbs, do hundreds of pushups at a time, complete 25 minute sessions of HIIT at 95% HRmax, and so on. She spends 3-5 hours training for her IRONMAN every single day.

And yet, whenever Ragen’s athletic abilities are on public display, her results are totally inconsistent with her claims. Her 5K personal record places her lower than the beginner baseline for an octogenarian. The only way she managed to complete a marathon was by specifically finding an event with no time limit and slowly ambling through the course in over 12 hours. She took 4 hours longer than the 77 year old woman who finished before her, but spent much of the race in a “blur of pain”. At her IRONMAN she didn’t even make it past the generous swim cut-off after over a year of intense preparation far beyond any typical half-IRONMAN training program. These are simply not the results of someone who puts in 3-5 hours every day, works with three separate professional trainers, and claims to have attained “what is considered to be an elite level of health and fitness“.

Ragen’s claims of health, fitness, and elite athleticism are a major component of her fat activism. As an elite professional athlete, national dance champion, marathoner, and IRONMAN competitor she considers herself living proof obesity has no impact on health or athletic ability. If she is truly training for as long as she claims, then we contend all she is doing is proving exactly the opposite, yet she is never expected to actually live up to her claims; showing up for an event she is totally unprepared for and failing miserably is somehow considered a major victory. The reality is Ragen’s claims about her athletic abilities and the amount of time she puts into training are just as fake as everything else about her manufactured persona.

Harassment and Stalking

Haters and Trolls

As noted previously, Ragen claims she receives around 73,000 hate mails every year, in addition to daily credible death threats and “graphic threats of violence and rape”. She also claims she has been doxxed, had maps to her home posted online, had people attempt to hack her Garmin Connect account, and so on. Conveniently, all her thousands of online trolls only contact her by email and blog comments that nobody else can see; meanwhile she is almost totally unknown on open social media platforms like Twitter where she has no control over the content. She may be the only public figure on the entire internet who is only trolled in private. Either Ragen’s “trolls” are remarkably stupid, or this is part of her continuing pattern of wild exaggeration about almost every aspect of her life. After the 5,000 Little Lies incident, all evidence points to the latter.

“IRL” Stalkers

In her IRONMAN race report, Ragen claims a mysterious Redditor approached her and had a “creepy” conversation, then later speculates in “paranoia” the same Redditor may have assaulted her during the swim. She implies the mystery man is one of the authors of this blog and refers to him as a “stalker”, which prompted enormous concern from her followers, and calls to contact the police for her personal safety. Based on photos and accounts from several sources, Ragen spent the entire morning being followed by a camera crew recording everything she did, yet she can provide no evidence of this interaction, and fails to even mention the camera crew in any of her IRONMAN posts. In this case, Ragen’s response to criticism is to make vague allegations of extremely serious illegal activities to silence her critics, exactly as predicted beforehand.

Ragen also claims she reported the events of the day, and the perpetrators are being “monitored”. To whom or where she reported this, and whether she actually believes any crimes were committed remains a mystery. On a related note, Ragen claims the Long Beach Police Department doesn’t take credible threats against her life seriously and will only act on the death threats she receives every day if someone actually attempts to murder her. She later expanded on this point by making the totally ridiculous claim she may one day become a literal martyr for fat acceptance.

The level of “stalking” Ragen faces pales in comparison to the absolutely horrifying stories shared by real stalking victims on this blog. The most serious claim she can make backed up by any real evidence is that a curious local resident took a few photos of her at a public event and posted them online. Ragen has spun online criticism and a minor encounter as a public figure with a camera crew into a story where she faces constant danger from trolls, haters, stalkers, murderers, and rapists at every turn. Using false or exaggerated claims of stalking to garner sympathy is certainly a new low even by Ragen’s standards.

Double Standards

On a number of occasions, Ragen has provided detailed contact information to her blog readers, and instructed them to harass individuals and report them to their employers and accreditation organizations. She calls this “activism”, but turns around and complains of “harassment” and “stalking” if anyone attempts to contact her and express concerns or criticism. Ragen’s double standards for “activism” are remarkably hypocritical.

Email Campaigns

Continuing from the previous item, in recent weeks Ragen has been claiming that for the last few years, whenever she is hired to speak somewhere, she is the target of an organized “email writing campaign” where emails are sent to the entire staff of wherever she is speaking in attempt to discredit her. According to Ragen, she always emerges victorious because of her spotless reputation, which prompted the escalation to “stalking” by her frustrated trolls. As usual, there is no evidence for this claim other than Ragen’s word, even though it is easy to document and prove. There are no public petitions or campaigns to have her banned from campuses; no comments on Facebook or Twitter posts about her speaking engagements; no posts on Reddit, GOMI, 4chan, or Voat; no posts or comments on this blog. At this point we believe it’s safe to say the “email campaigns” are either another work of fiction or again exaggerated beyond reason for the purposes of manufacturing controversy.

Other Questions

Ragen has made some truly bizarre claims in the past. She completely seriously claims she was sold for air conditioners in Mali and can never visit or she will “not legally be allowed to leave“. At one time she claimed to be a psychic who could remotely assault people with her mind. She spent six years finishing high school because of a mysterious “no skipping grades” policy and then had most of the administration at her high school fired. She even claims she personally drew up the incorporation documents for Destiny’s Child. It just goes on. Everyone has things they’d rather forget in their past, but Ragen was a grown woman in her late 20s when she wrote all of this and more.

There is one particular forgotten item of Ragen’s past that merits further attention. When Ragen switched blogging platforms to WordPress for her Dances with Fat blog, she went back and carefully deleted over a year of Livejournal posts to conceal the fact she sold MLM weight loss products in 2002 and hoped to make an annual salary of over $250,000. Ragen constantly complains about the “sixty billion dollar a year diet industry” while concealing the obvious conflict of interest that she herself was a part of it until she realized it wouldn’t make her rich.

On a personal note, the authors of this blog find it particularly distasteful that Ragen frequently refers to herself as the “standard of beauty” and “a regulation hottie” in Mali, a country ravaged by poverty and malnutrition she once wrote would be better off if aliens took it.


After failing at college, Ragen flitted about from one business venture to another, leaving a string of failed businesses in her wake. Eventually she discovered Health at Every Size, realized it aligned with her own personal failings, and decided to monetize it. She now makes her living peddling her particular brand of slacktivism. She pretends she is an expert on obesity, dispenses shockingly poor medical advice, and accepts many thousands of dollars in donations for projects she has no intention of completing.

Above all, Ragen lies. She lies about her achievements, about her athletic abilities, about her credentials, and about her personal experiences. She lies about her eating disorder, about her IRONMAN training, and about all the “activism” she does every day. She constantly lies about the harassment she faces on all fronts for her outspoken views. Ragen lies, because in truth she is a sad failure who gave up on all her dreams and built a career around a carefully manufactured fake persona that is so pathetic nobody even thought to call her on it.

As we’ve said before, there are some positive elements to HAES and fat acceptance in general. These movements deserve a better “thought leader” than a con artist like Ragen. And that’s the truth about Ragen Chastain.

Ragen’s Second Big Fat Marathon

In May 2014, Ragen announced her intention to enter the LA Marathon, followed a few months later by an announcement she was training for an IRONMAN. In the more than three years to date since she started training, tangible results have been few and far between. Despite apparently training for 3-5 hours every day, she has dropped out of 5Ks, a marathon, multiple super sprint triathlons, and even IRONMAN Arizona 2016. She has achieved limited success in short races, finally shaving a few minutes off her 1:09:50 PR last year, followed by an embarrassing disqualification with implications of cheating, and a blistering 55:57 finish at a local fun run in December. Her entire triathlon record in all this time consists of failing to complete the first event at IRONMAN Arizona 70.3 2015 and a 75% no-show rate.

Regular IronFat updates are no longer featured on this blog as Ragen creaks and groans her way towards yet another no-show or DNF in Tempe this November, but we can report after exactly three years of training she has achieved a new marathon PR of 10:03:09 at day 1 of the New England Mainly Marathons series. This bests her previous marathon PR of 12:19:30 at the 2013 Seattle Marathon. This race series is a low-key multi-day event intended for runners who want to complete marathons in multiple states (Ragen only entered one). As with Seattle, Ragen specifically selected a marathon with no time limit, which in this case goes as far as celebrating cabooses like her. Ragen was in fact dead last, finishing almost two hours after the 74 year old man who came in second last. She reportedly had a film crew in tow for the duration of the event, just like at her Ironman 70.3 DNS/DNF.

Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 4.54.03 AM.png

While some may applaud Ragen for actually entering a race and especially for achieving a new PR, we should not lose sight of the fact she is not a random fat person exercising on the internet. This is someone who claims to be a professional athlete “in the top 5% in the country in strength, stamina, flexibility, and all medical markers of health” with perfect bloodwork and blood pressure. Someone who claims she can leg press 1000 lbs, do hundreds of pushups at a time, complete 25 minute sessions of HIIT at 95% HRmax, and various other athletic feats. Someone who says she has “what is considered to be an elite level of health and fitness“. Someone who claims she was ready to swim 2.4 miles and bike 112 miles, but wasn’t completely certain about finishing the marathon afterwards last November. And yet the culmination of literally thousands of hours of intense training over three years is a slow shamble around a dozen loops of a course for 10 hours.

Ragen’s actual results are irreconcilable with her far-flung claims of athleticism, but she continues to use those claims to support a speaking career based on the notion it is perfectly fine to be grossly obese and there are no negative health effects associated with it.

In 6 months and 2 days, Ragen claims she will be able to translate this result into swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and completing a full marathon in under 17 hours. Logic and common sense say otherwise.

Update June 7: Bizarrely, some “official” photos of Ragen have appeared on the Mainly Marathons site separately from the regular race photos. Ragen’s camera crew is visible in one of them. We also received a photo from a random race participant who was so bemused by the video production they actually looked up Ragen online. As of June 7, Ragen has yet to admit she even completed the marathon, referring to it as a “training run” on her blog.

[Updated] IRONMAN Arizona Race Day Live

Update 2: Accolades are pouring in for Ragen’s decision to drop out of IRONMAN Arizona. As we wrote recently, Ragen will be judged on the grandeur of her delusions rather than her actions and accomplishments. Dropping out of a race is enough for one Facebook commenter to call her an “IRON WOMAN”.



Update: Ragen has officially dropped out of IRONMAN Arizona, citing the excuses she used in her last IronFat update. She took the opportunity to post an “inspiring”  montage of her fake training selfies. At Dances with Facts we prefer this version.



Race day is finally upon us at IRONMAN Arizona in Tempe, AZ. Today international dance champion, marathoner, and elite professional athlete Ragen Chastain competes for fame and glory… or not.

Unfortunately it looks like we are in for an IronFizzle rather than an IronFlop. Ragen flew to Tempe on Friday and completed athlete check-in and registration for 2017, but by all accounts did not take her equipment with her or check her bike in the transition area before the cut-off on Saturday. She spent yesterday ranting about the presidential election on Facebook late into the night without any mention of her IRONMAN attempt, and was still at it at 0330 MST. A friendly message asking if she would be competing and wishing her good luck was removed within minutes. Her last IronFat update was on November 11 — a vague implication she would probably not be competing, even though she could totally $100% finish the swim and bike.

Ragen has a long history of dropping out of athletic events, and it isn’t looking promising this time. Stay tuned for further updates.




Official Information

Athlete guide

Race schedule

Course maps

Results and live athlete tracking

Live coverage


Forecasts are showing a high of approximately 26°C/78.8°F with mostly a mostly sunny morning and some clouds and showers in the afternoon. Water temperature is well under 24.5ºC/76.1ºF, which means the race is wetsuit legal.

Tempe Town Lake Water Temperature

Accuweather forecast for Tempe, AZ

Race Information

The race consists of three segments: a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run. All athletes have 2:20 to complete the swim, and approximately 8:10 and 6:30 for the bike and run, respectively. The swim is a self-seeded rolling start rather than a wave start, which means athletes cross a timing mat under the starting arch in a continuous stream. Athlete bib number marking begins at 0500, and the age group swim start is at 0650 and is expected to be complete by 0720. Race results will be available on the official results page, and race photos will be posted on FinisherPix. Ragen’s bib number is 1270.


All times in MST (UTC-7).

0500 – Transition area open, bib number body marking

0650 – Age group rolling swim start

0720 – Approximate end of rolling start

0940 – Approximate final swim cut-off

1500 – 1st bike cut-off

1615 – 2nd bike cut-off

1730 – Final bike cut-off

1740 – Run start cut-off

2100 – 1st run cut-off

2230 – 2nd run cut-off

2400 – Final race cut-off

Updates to follow…

[Updated] Road to Tempe 2016: IRONMAN Arizona Schedule and Information

Update 3: It is now almost 11PM MST and Ragen is continuing to post what has become a typical stream of angry rants about the presidential election. A friendly comment asking if she will be competing tomorrow and wishing her good luck was removed within minutes.


Update 2: We have an unconfirmed report from a blog reader that Ragen’s bike was not in the transition area at the 3PM cut-off. Based on Facebook posts, Ragen’s parner has not made the drive to Tempe with her gear like she did last year. All signs now point to a DNS, but Ragen has made no official announcement or even mentioned her IRONMAN attempt since November 11.

Update: As of noon MST, the Frankenbike was not checked. Still no word on whether Ragen will be competing tomorrow. 

Set your alarm clocks! IRONMAN Arizona begins at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning, Sunday November 20. The gear check-in cut-off is in just over an hour at 1500 MST. As of posting time, we have not received any confirmation Ragen’s Frankenbike made it to Tempe, or that she plans to race tomorrow. Instead she has continued with the usual stream of hourly Facebook rants about the recent presidential election. While we know she completed athlete check-in yesterday, unfortunately there is no way to predict whether she will actually race, so blog readers may be in for some disappointment in the event of an IronFizzle. This post will be kept updated if we learn anything further about Ragen’s participation in IRONMAN Arizona before race day. A new post will be added tomorrow morning with live race day updates on Ragen’s progress or lack thereof.

Official Information

Athlete guide

Race schedule

Course maps

Results and live athlete tracking


Forecasts are showing a high of approximately 26°C/78.8°F with mostly a mostly sunny morning and some clouds and showers in the afternoon. Water temperature is approximately 20ºC/68ºFx, which means the race is wetsuit legal.

Tempe Town Lake Water Temperature

Accuweather forecast for Tempe, AZ

Race Information

The race consists of three segments: a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run. All athletes have 2:20 to complete the swim, and approximately 8:10 and 6:30 for the bike and run, respectively. The swim is a self-seeded rolling start rather than a wave start, which means athletes cross a timing mat under the starting arch in a continuous stream. Athlete bib number marking begins at 0500, and the age group swim start is at 0650 and is expected to be complete by 0720. Race results will be available on the official results page, and race photos will be posted on FinisherPix. Ragen’s bib number is 1270.


All times in MST.

0650 – Age group rolling swim start

0720 – Approximate end of rolling start

0940 – Approximate final swim cut-off

1500 – 1st bike cut-off

1615 – 2nd bike cut-off

1730 – Final bike cut-off

1740 – Run start cut-off

2100 – 1st run cut-off

2230 – 2nd run cut-off

2400 – Final race cut-off

Road to Tempe 2016: IronFlop 2.0 Begins

In a surprise move echoing last year’s performance, Ragen flew from Los Angeles to Phoenix, AZ early this morning. She took the opportunity to post a rant on Facebook about clearly oversized chairs with arms at the airport and has not officially confirmed she plans to race on Sunday. Thanks to a keen-eyed blog reader who was coincidentally checking in at the same time, Dances with Facts has received definitive photo confirmation Ragen is checked in as of 9:55AM MST and also registered for 2017. We note again that Ragen has not confirmed she will actually be racing, and may simply have flown to Tempe to take advantage of pre-race registration for 2017 and a non-refundable flight. This post will be updated throughout the day if further information becomes available, and the detailed event information will be posted tomorrow.

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Road to Tempe 2016: Final Deadline

About an hour after our previous update, Ragen “coincidentally” broke a long silence on IronFat with the revelation that she would probably not be showing up for IRONMAN Arizona this year. The post is full of various excuses for her lack of updates, illogical reasoning for dropping out of the race, and vague new accusations of stalking and harassment. Since then, Ragen has written a flurry of posts on Dances with Fat about various stale fat-related news items; in fact, more posts than she had written in the entire month preceding her announcement, when she was apparently so busy training she had no time to blog.

Per the official IRONMAN Arizona schedule, Ragen has until 5PM MST today (November 18) to check in. Tempe, AZ is over a 6 hour drive from where she lives. As of an hour ago she was posting on Facebook about “weight neutral stock photos” and continuing her election results meltdown, with no indication whatsoever she planned to compete in an IRONMAN in two days. In fact, Ragen has not mentioned her IRONMAN attempt a single time since her big open-ended announcement on November 11.

At this point it would appear that IronFlop 2.0 will be more of an IronFizzle in the form of yet another DNS to add to Ragen’s decades-long list of athletic dropouts. Since her update, Ragen has received numerous positive comments on her blog about how inspirational and honest she is, so as usual it would seem she will be judged on the grandeur of her delusions rather than her actions and achievements.

It remains a mystery what Ragen has achieved during her 2 1/2 years of training.


A person who is willing to stoop as low as fake training selfies is considered inspiring for her honesty.

We will continue to update this post if more information about Ragen’s IRONMAN Arizona bid comes to light.

Road to Tempe 2016: The Home Stretch

Update: Almost exactly an hour after this post was published, Ragen broke a several week long silence with the news she may drop out of IRONMAN Arizona this year. As usual, the excuses are flowing freely along with mysterious new accusations of stalking and harassment. It appears that Ragen will leave us hanging until November 20 to find out whether she actually decides to show up.

In exactly nine days, Ragen Chastain claims she will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run a full marathon in under 17 hours at IRONMAN Arizona in Tempe, AZ. As it stands, she has not shown even the slightest indication she has the necessary fitness and athletic ability to complete any part of an IRONMAN, despite apparently training for 3-5 hours every single day since mid-2014. In the last few years, Ragen has dropped out of multiple triathlons and runs, been hit with numerous scandals like being caught faking training selfies, and put in a dismal set of performances in a handful of 5Ks, ultimately culminating in course cutting a novelty fun run.

Since August, Ragen has posted a grand total of two IronFat updates. The first one is a typical harrowing Ragen-style account of “running” on her birthday, complete with an emergency bathroom break and a random stranger encounter in the form of a food-moralizing homeless man. As usual she gives no indication of pace or distance, and based on what little information she does reveal, it may actually amount to as little as 2-3 miles. However, she claims she planned to be out for two hours, which points to a walk-run of around 6 miles based on the only running pace she has ever admitted to publicly. That may be a high estimate given Ragen has struggled to maintain that pace for even 3.1 miles in recent races. We also note Ragen’s mysterious chlorine allergy is apparently not enough of an issue to prevent her from staying in a hotel room with a chlorine pool. She provided a bizarre explanation to a Facebook follower.

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The most recent IronFat update posted the same day is another “running” story, this time a late night run through rain with what is becoming a Ragen trademark: another emergency bathroom break. After 2 1/2 years of intense training, she is apparently still unable to manage basic hydration, and chooses to carry a large hydration belt and drink excessive amounts of water to the point of extreme urinary urgency. We also note that heat is apparently Ragen’s “sworn enemy when it comes to training”, and basic race strategies like hydration are beyond her abilities, yet Arizona is her chosen location for endurance events.

It has now been several weeks since the last IronFat updates, which themselves came after almost two months of total silence. In this time Ragen has not mentioned IronFat on her blog or on social media. She spent last week working a real job as a programs manager at the ironically-named Lean Startup Conference as she did in 2015. In the last few months she has written occasional pieces for Ravishly and generally neglected her main blog as well as IronFat. A dedicated Dances with Fat reader recently asked if Ragen even plans to keep writing her blog due to the limited updates, and was met with a vitriolic reply that has since been deleted.


This close to IRONMAN 70.3 Arizona last year, excitement was building. There was a flurry of activity as Ragen juggled speaking engagements, the Fat Activism Conference, and cross-country travel. Fake Selfie Sunday made another appearance, and our pre-race training recap shows just how much effort Ragen had put into maintaining IronFat. She had even been on an international trip to Iceland a month prior and given an absurd magazine interview about her IRONMAN training where she claimed she might one day be murdered for her views on fat acceptance.

A year later and it is clear Ragen has little interest in IronFat; information has been even more lacking, updates even more sporadic. We can only assume Ragen will actually show up on race day given the lengths she went to for her swim DNS last year, but her actions certainly suggest otherwise. At the moment she is in the midst of having a meltdown on social media about the recent U.S. election results, and it would seem the impending IronFlop 2.0 is even less important than usual. Rest assured she has vowed to bravely soldier on with her particular brand of self-serving slacktivism, however.

To celebrate IronFlop 2.0, Dances with Facts will be reposting some of Ragen’s greatest hits over the next week as well as attempting to summarize what little information can be gleaned from the last year of meaningless IronFat updates. We will also be hosting live updates on race day as we did last year, starting early on November 20. IRONMAN Arizona event information will be posted shortly. Onwards to IRONMAN glory, Ragen!

Fake Trolls Abound

Ragen has a strong tradition of using complaints of apparent abuse from “trolls” to distract attention from her critics. Last year she made allegations of rape threats and stalking after she was caught red-handed faking training selfies in Fake Selfie Sunday. Within hours of today’s Dances with Facts post about her lack of IronFat updates, she posted a Facebook message about a Twitter account supposedly created to harass her. As usual she has received a lot of sympathy from her followers, and even took the time to stroke her own ego in the comments, claiming the constant stream of abuse she receives proves what an effective activist she is.


Unfortunately for Ragen, Twitter is completely public, and a quick search makes it plainly obvious the account she is talking about does not exist. She has received a grand total of four remotely negative @username mentions on Twitter in the last two weeks, three of them in response to her jealous rant about Maria Kang on Ravishly today. All the users have other posting histories on Twitter, and would be unable to send her a direct message unless she followed them. There is no account created to harass her, and moreover, most of the “abuse” is not particularly abusive in nature.


The only possible candidate for the mysterious new Ragen-hating account is one created last month which has sent her a single non-abusive reply among its tweets. Truly shocking stuff.

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Ragen’s accounts of her “abuse” have been a frequent target of criticism on this blog. In a 2014 Dances with Fat post, Ragen claimed she receives at least 200 abusive messages and death threats every day, yet there is simply no evidence this is true. In fact, one of her classic claims that she received over 5000 messages telling her to kill herself in 48 hours was proven to be completely fabricated. Twitter is one of the few platforms Ragen participates in where she is not in complete control over the content, and the silence about her is deafening. On average she receives a negative @username mention once every few weeks unless she posts something particularly egregious. Ragen wants us to believe she has the most polite “trolls” in the world who all only contact her in private where nobody will see their moderated comments. It is simply beyond belief, and is a perfect illustration of Ragen’s profound dishonesty.

Road to Tempe 2016: 45 days until IMAZ

In exactly 45 days, Ragen Chastain claims she will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run a full marathon in under 17 hours at IRONMAN Arizona in Tempe, AZ. Ragen has never completed a triathlon of any length, despite numerous promises to enter shorter events as part of her training since mid-2014. In fact, she went as far as registering and not showing up for two super sprint triathlons late last year. Her sole triathlon experience consists of entering IRONMAN 70.3 Arizona woefully unprepared and failing to complete the swim. Her only other “endurance” experience is gaming the rules at the 2013 Seattle Marathon to force volunteers to remain on the course while she took well over 12 hours to slowly shamble through it “in a blur of pain”.

Since May 2014, Ragen has supposedly been following an intense training regimen, spending 3-5 hours training every single day. In that time she has managed to drop out of a marathon, drop out of two super sprint triathlons, drop out of a 5K, and cut the course at a novelty fun run 5K. After several thousand claimed hours of training, Ragen’s only athletic achievement is lowering her 5K PR from 1:09:50 to a truly elite 1:05:51.

In our last update, we outlined the current known state of Ragen’s IRONMAN training, which makes it clear she has never demonstrated the fitness level or ability to complete any of the triathlon events. Since then, she has not posted a single thing about IronFat. In fact, her last update, a low effort piece about blisters at her failed 5K, was posted 46 days ago on August 21. She is now only three days short of the longest period ever between IronFat updates, which occurred after she gave up on training for some time after her disastrous effort in Tempe last October.

Ragen has been passing her time since August posting occasional angry rants about news pieces, often weeks after they have blown over. She couldn’t resist posting a brag about her organizational skills for the Fat Activism Conference with typical exaggerated numbers, despite no longer appearing on the list of organizers or giving any kind of talk as she did in previous years. In fact, it would appear one of her few remaining responsibilities is handling the money, which is unfortunate given her poor track record of financial accountability. As usual she has turned the conference into a passive income source, fulfilling her goal of “money for nothing and chicks for free”. To maximize profits, she again used a budget teleconference service, leading to the usual technical issues that have plagued the conference every year.

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Even Ragen’s fans have been getting antsy about her lack of updates.

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At this point it is not at all clear whether Ragen will actually show up for IMAZ this year. It has been 46 days since she last mentioned training, and at that time it was not going well. It is difficult to imagine her passing up an opportunity to enter the oppression olympics again, but we seriously have wonder whether she will be taking advantage of the IRONMAN full refund plan. With only 45 days until IMAZ, it won’t take long to find out.

Road to Tempe 2016: The Current State of IronFat

In exactly 72 days, Ragen Chastain plans to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run a full marathon in under 17 hours at IRONMAN Arizona in Tempe, AZ. To date, she has yet to complete a triathlon of any length. Her endurance event experience consists of failing to complete the swim at IRONMAN 70.3 Arizona after showing up woefully unprepared last year, and taking advantage of the rules at the 2013 Seattle Marathon to force volunteers to remain on the course until she finished in well over 12 hours “in a blur of pain”. Since starting her claimed daily 3-5 hour training regimen in May 2014, she has managed to drop out of a marathon, drop out of two super sprint triathlons, and cut the course at a novelty fun run 5K. The only athletic achievement she has to show for the 2000-3000+ hours she has apparently spent training for IronFat is lowering her 5K PR from 1:09:50 to 1:05:51, still not quite managing to break into the elite sub-hour 5K walking class.

At the moment Ragen is neglecting both of her blogs and her social media accounts. There have only been five IronFat updates since July 12, or once every 12 days. While we await further Miracle Months updates like the century ride report, here is a summary of the current state of Ragen’s IRONMAN training.


As of August 18, Ragen is “in good shape to make the cut-off” at IMAZ. As usual she fails to give any meaningful times or distances, or say whether she actually swam the entire 2.4 miles within the allotted 2:20 cut-off. She is still avoiding any kind of open water swimming in crowds and appears to be set to make IMAZ only her second open water swim start ever. We know how well that worked out last year when she failed to meet the 1:10 swim cut-off at the 70.3 despite supposedly never having swam the distance in over an hour in her life.


As of August 17, Ragen is “far slower” than the speed she needs to maintain to complete the bike section, or approximately 13.7 mph over the maximum 8:10 cut-off. Of course, we may yet see a miraculous improvement, like when she went from barely being able to do figure eights on a basketball court to a half-century ride in three weeks. Since she failed to meet the swim cut-off and has not entered any events were she actually rode her bike, we have no idea what kind of speed she can actually maintain other than “too slow”.


The only thing Ragen has ever revealed about her running pace is that it is “barely faster than a walk”.


As of April 9, Ragen’s official 5K PR is 1:05:51. The IMAZ run cut-off is 6:30. At Ragen’s 5K pace she would require 9:15 to finish the run. The Running for Fitness race predictor estimates an even longer 10:20 based on her 5K time and age. It is safe to say Ragen has never demonstrated the ability to walk or run anywhere close to the required pace for the run segment of an IRONMAN, especially after having completed a long open water swim and gruelling 112 mile bike ride at a speed she is still unable to maintain. However, in the comments section of her latest update she was happy to casually drop the suggestion that she regularly “runs” distances in excess of 13.1 miles, just like how she was regularly doing long runs “up to 24 miles” last year.

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At this point it seems fairly certain we are in for a repeat of last year’s performance, with either a swim DNF or short-lived bike DNF. After 28 months of intense training, Ragen has nothing to show for herself other than a long string of embarrassing race dropouts and failures. She has already confirmed she will be entering IMAZ 2017, so we anticipate yet another repeat next year when she completes a trilogy of IronFlops.