Update: Race route and related measurements corrected, video times clarified. Also thanks to Reddit user Bael_Take_The_Wheel for annotated course finish map.
A reader left a comment on our race report from Ragen’s recent 5K about coincidentally entering the same race and passing Ragen on the course, but somehow finishing behind her. There has been a lot of discussion about whether the blog comment was written by a troll, and how much if any of the story was actually true. Dances with Facts contacted the comment author, and we can confirm she provided extremely convincing evidence that she walked the course as described, backed up by photos and video. However, we were not initially able to verify some details of her story, such as the section abbreviated below about Ragen unexpectedly appearing at the finish line.
We were about 50 feet behind her and her friends for the 1st 15 minutes […] We speeded up to a fast walk (they were going at a strolling pace) and left her way behind […] As we continued on through the 5K at a medium-fast walk interspersed with jogging, we did not see her again and I assumed she was way behind us with her friends.
The last quarter mile of the course has some turns and as we rounded the corner and had a view of the finish area we were both VERY surprised to see Ragen Chastain ahead of us by about 5 minutes…. She was just crossing the finish line and taking a picture to celebrate. My husband was like WHAAAT…..and we were both completely puzzled as we had not seen her pass us at any point along the way.
Due to some sharp sleuthing by Reddit user monumenta, a major irregularity in Ragen’s finish time has come to light, confirming Jumbo Shrimp’s account of events. Unfortunately for Ragen, the official race timer provides photos and videos of all finishers on the results page. Earlier times in the video can be seen by dragging the slider completely to the left and then back to the desired time. Note that video times do not match race times because the video starts with the first finisher. At 45:45 (approximately 1:02:00 race gun time), Ragen’s friend Jeanette DePatie, who walked without registering, can be seen crossing the finish line the wrong way and setting up to take a photo. A short time later at 46:19 (chip time 01:01:45, gun time 01:02:32), Ragen herself also crosses the finish line in the wrong direction. Neither of them crossed the finish line in the correct direction at any earlier point, and this is Ragen’s official finish time. After taking a photo, they wander off into the food vendor area.
The Fat Boy 5K Long Beach is a loop that starts and ends by the entrance of Shoreline Aquatic Park near the Aquarium of the Pacific. There is no course map available online this year, but running app screenshots posted by participants show it was similar to the previous year. Rather than turning right to loop around the park near the end as directed by race volunteers, Ragen and Jeanette turned left and cut straight to the finish line, shaving approximately 0.7km off the course. Based on the video, they are the only race participants who took this wrong turn. Both Ragen and Jeanette have participated in a number of street races, eliminating the possibility of a beginner’s error here.
Of note, Marilyn Wann can be seen crossing the finish line around the one hour mark in the video, which points to the group intentionally splitting up at the turn. Extrapolating Ragen’s incorrect finish time to the correct distance gives an estimated true finish time of 1:11:48, significantly worse than her last 5K in April.
Did Ragen intentionally cut the course, perhaps to avoid a slow official finish time or because of an injury? We can’t say, but she certainly hasn’t admitted to this mistake anywhere online. She has been “training” for a marathon and IRONMAN for over two years at this point, supposedly for 3-5 hours every single day. In 144 days, she claims she will be able to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run a full marathon in under 17 hours, yet she is unable to achieve a 60 minute 5K even by cheating. This latest turn of events is yet another embarrassing blip on the road to what will almost certainly be a repeat of her dismal performance at IRONMAN 70.3 Arizona last October.