Ragen Chastain’s National Dance Championship Titles

Source: America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments

With the upcoming IRONMAN 70.3 in Tempe on October 18 quickly approaching, we thought it would be a good time to look back at some of Ragen’s past athletic glories. In particular, her seemingly impressive claim to be a “three time national dance champion”. Until relatively recently, information about Ragen’s dance titles was impossible to locate; the event results no longer appear on the dance circuit’s web site, and she consistently ignored all requests about them. It got to the point where she was making up stories about trolls while still carefully not revealing any real information. There was speculation she had only won a single uncontested title that even made it to this blog (we have since added a note to the post). In July 2014, information about Ragen’s dance titles was located using the Internet Archive, and it immediately became obvious why she hadn’t revealed the details.

Ragen competed in the American Country Dance Association, a small country western dance circuit that operates in four states and used to be called the “Fun Country” dance circuit. The generally recognized standard for competitive country western dancing is the much larger United Country Western Dance Council, an international organization that operates in 20 countries and holds major national and international competitions. The ACDA is considered a “pay to win” dance circuit, in that they hold events with so many categories and levels almost everyone will win a title at some point. Every year they have a “national dance championship” event. There is no pre-qualifying, and in practice the only difference from any other ACDA event is the name. Competitors show up and pay the entry fee, and their only competition on the way to becoming a “national dance champion” is whoever else happens to sign up for their individual categories. Many title categories have only one, two, or three competitors, so some dancers even become “national champions” by default. To give an idea of the scale of an ACDA national dance championship event, there is a video of group dancing from 2007 on YouTube.

Ragen won two dance titles at the 2004 ACDA national championships in the “newcomer” and “division IV” levels, against one and two competitors, respectively. Newcomer and Division IV are the two lowest possible open levels at any ACDA event. The ACDA describes them as non-competitive dancing for novice students with “minimal dance training” who have never competed in an interstate dance competition. They are summarized as “the social bridge to competitive dancing”. Looking at results for these events, it is obvious very few people actually dance at this level.

2004 ACDA National Championships








The following year, Ragen won her third and final title at the 2005 ACDA national championships in the Division III level, “the first level of competitive dancing”. She had only one competitor.

2005 ACDA National Championships




At the 2005 event, Ragen sustained an ankle injury so severe it took her almost seven months to recover. ACDA records show she spent several more years attempting to compete at higher levels, where she either “won” uncontested showcases or placed dead last whenever anyone else was competing. She frequently wrote about how much her weight was holding back her dancing. In late 2008, after coming in last place at the LoneStar Invitation 2008, she announced she was “moving up into the professional division” with her new dance partner. There is no evidence Ragen ever competed at a higher level or won any remotely significant dance titles after 2005. A few weeks later, she started calling herself a professional dancer and then “retired” from competitive dancing.

In summary, Ragen is indeed technically a “three time national dance champion”. She won her titles at events called “national championships”, in a small regional pay to win dance circuit with minimal competition, at a level so low almost nobody else bothered to enter. Two of her titles are for specifically non-competitive social dancing, and the third is at the lowest possible novice level of competition against one other couple. She injured herself so badly competing at this level that she couldn’t dance for over half a year. Her weight kept her from advancing any further, and she eventually gave up completely a few years later. After declaring herself a professional dancer and fat activist, she made every effort to obscure the details of her dance titles and competitive dancing history so they would appear to be more impressive. Like her 12:20 “marathon” and many of her other achievements, she relies on obfuscation and technicalities rather than hard work and real effort. Ragen is a “national dance champion” in name alone, and her remarkably unsuccessful competitive dancing career is a testament to how much her weight has truly cost her.

Ragen and Randy dancing a few weeks before the 2005 ACDA National Championships.

24 thoughts on “Ragen Chastain’s National Dance Championship Titles

  1. The thing that’s always struck me about Ragen’s older dancing videos is that her entire demeanor is much happier than it is in the More Caharet videos. In More Cabaret productions you can see how angry she is beneath the bis smiles. And the gain in weight erased any technical ability she may have had earlier. It’s really a shame that she couldn’t get it together to lose the weight and continue dancing in the way she so obviously enjoyed. I often wonder if fat activism isn’t Ragen’s revenge on a world that makes her furious.

  2. she looks a lot smaller in that picture than she currently appears to be. I’d say she’s somewhere around 270-280 lbs there, which is I guess what she claims to be. She’s definitely in the mid-300s now. She has an elite 80lb range on her set point, I guess ◔_◔

    • I’ve shortened their last names so they don’t appear in search results, but I wasn’t really all that concerned about any privacy issues around including them for the purposes of listing the competitors in each category. The records are (or were) public and there is a link to the document they came from directly above anyway.

  3. I’d like her a hell of a lot more if she just told the truth.

    She doesn’t get that there’s nothing wrong with her performances as they were–it’s great she did the dance competitions, and seriously rad she compelted the marathon. But her gross exaggerations and lies ruin it.

    • I agree about the dancing but I kind of struggle to be at all impressed by a marathon time that any ‘healthy’ person could achieve walking, backwards, and still have time to break for a three-course lunch. I guess it all depends on when you think a marathon stops being a marathon and just becomes a long walk, but 12hrs is way the wrong side of that.
      Seriously disabled or very elderly people do marathons faster than 12 hours, and that is ‘seriously rad’, but Ragen’s performance is just depressing.

      • The lady who finished 4 hours before Ragen in Seattle was in her late 70s. If you look her up on athlinks, she’s been running marathons and other races for as far back as the records go. As the years went on, her times got slower and slower, but she kept slogging her way through several races every single year. I looked up her photos on MarathonFoto and she is a little old lady with a bent back just making her way through the course at her own pace. I want to give her a hug because it’s so awesome to see someone still active at that age. It was actually one of her last races. I’m not sure if she passed or finally got to the point she couldn’t do any more races.

        Then there is Ragen, keeping the volunteers on the course for 4 hours after the previous finisher on a rule technicality, verbally abusing them and getting angrier and angrier about the lack of accommodation for her nonsense. Ragen complaining when people are concerned about her wellbeing, Ragen complaining about the course being closed, Ragen complaining about the lack of crowds and support stations, Ragen complaining about everything. All so she can add the meaningless title of “marathoner” for walking a marathon at 2.1 mph to impress people who don’t know any better. The contrast is incredible.

      • @JakeB: Respectfully disagree. It takes a lot of courage and determination for someone her size to complete a marathon.

        It’s the fact that she a) acted like a jerk to others during the race and b) describes herself as an “elite” athlete that completely negates any goodwill I have toward her and her athletic efforts.

      • @Bijoux, “respectfully” WTF; there is nothing courageous about someone who is NOT PREPARED for a marathon, who HAS NOT PROPERLY TRAINED for one, etc., to enter one and then expect special attention be paid to her, special accommodations be made for her, and others to be inconvenienced because she wants to get her name out there.

        If Ragen (do we know what her given name is? Because it’s certainly not really “Ragen”) wants to go on long walks to get fit and prove something to herself, she can do it IN HER OWN SPACE AND TIME. Not F up the day for hundreds of others who took the event seriously…much like with her ironman “training,” she is DISRESPECTING the others who actually followed a training program and obey the rules…much like our author here has pointed out, IF Ragen shows up her her triathlon, she is undoubtedly going to wreak havoc on at least the bike portion of it, as she has NO F-ING EXPERIENCE riding with a pack of bikes who are, you know, RACING and not on a sightseeing ride.

        She has neither courage nor determination. She’s a whining, blaming liar who feels that anytime she doesn’t get her way on something, it’s because someone is out to get her.

        I’ve been running for a decade and I run a lot of shorter races. I have NO BUSINESS anywhere on a marathon course other than at a water station; nor does Ragen.

  4. Ragen’s lies aside, this is sad. It seems like dancing was really important to her and she let her weight hinder her from achieving any meaningful level of competence in that sport. She actually looks happy in that picture. The more her bs is scrutinized, the sadder and more pathetic she becomes.

  5. @Anon: Well, we obviously disagree about Ragen. Yes, she acted like an asshole the whole way, but at least she did the marathon.
    And as a distance runner, I hope to see you out there — you don’t have to be perfect to run a marathon, you just have to show up.

    • No, you actually have to train, not just “show up.” She didn’t “run” anything and she still doesn’t, years later. Again, she can go out for 26 mile leisurely walks any time she likes…she has no business clogging up a costly, organized event for which people have trained for close to a year and make a mockery of it.

      • Sure, training makes it easier, but there’s nothing wrong with showing up and trying.

        Believe me, I hate that she bitches and moans about exercise and, as you said, makes a mockery of events that we love, work hard at, and train for.

        But at least she did it. She did it poorly and for all the wrong reasons, yes. Her attitude towards the event and the people running it was horrific. But she did it. Gotta start somewhere, right?

        You brought up an interesting point about Tempe, though. If she does show up, I hope like hell that she doesn’t hurt anyone else or ruin the event for them… Yikes.

      • It irks me how people keep lowering the bar like this. I hate this culture of entitlement and instant gratification. No, it is not enough to just show up. I am not saying this to be elitist. I’m not saying that only gifted athletes should be allowed to enter marathons. But I am saying that there should be standards and that we should encourage people to perform at their potential. Surely the difference is clear between what Ragen did and what other, more patient, and more reasonable, out of shape people do. I know it’s not feasible, but ideally big events like marathons (and not just the most famous ones) should all have qualifiers. Ragen should not have been able to muddle her way to a marathon medal after participating in only a single 5k previously. We should reward people for sustained effort and achievement. Ragen demonstrated neither, and I refuse to agree that “at least she did it.” That’s not a mindset I want in my life.

  6. But at least she did it. She did it poorly and for all the wrong reasons, yes. Her attitude towards the event and the people running it was horrific. But she did it. Gotta start somewhere,

    That’s the entire problem though. Ragen doesn’t believe she has to Start anywhere. She fully believes she is already there. Even if she has to scam and lie to prove it.

    • And that’s what infuriates me. I’m glad she did the events she’s done — but don’t lie about your training or inflate your status to “elite athlete.”

    • Okay, yes. She “did it”. She walked the entire course. 26.2 miles is exactly that. 26.2 miles. If she had trained properly and went about actually pursuing her course time *as she wanted to*, none of this would have happened.

      Her “gotta start somewhere” should have been running a mile. Just one. And then another. And built up. Not just wander into a marathon. It’s insulting for those who do train and work hard just to get a PR.

  7. I love the work you do but there is a distinct lack of sources in this post. It’s believable as heck, but show me so I can trust it.

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