Born in Catalonia, Ragna Debats is a Dutch athlete who has competed successfully in events as varied as trail runs, vertical kilometres, multi-day events, ultramarathons and even Snowshoe races.
But running was not the first sport that caught her imagination. She came to the sport late, having been a committed horse rider in her youth. The desire to succeed in the sport saw her move from the Netherlands to Germany for six years to pursue her dream of competing at the Olympics.
That dream never materialised, and she gave up on competing before suddenly, at the age of 28, running entered her life.
First she was only casually into the sport, her experience with horse riding having put her off competition, but that wouldn’t last.
Ragna Debats began entering races, and after some solid showings in 2011 and 2012, including an 18th place in the 30k Sierre-Zinal 2011, Debats clinched her first title at the Spanish race RAE Trail 2013, going on to run a variety of different race styles over the following years.
She grew into the sport, resulting in an incredible 2017-18 when she became the World Champion in both Skyrunning and Trail Running, a monumental achievement.
There was also her victory in the 2019 CCC UTMB, a precursor to attempts at the UTMB in 2021 and 2022. On both occasions, however, she had to drop out.
Whilst Ragna Debats was disappointed at her 2022 performance, it has proved to only be a minor blip on her year. The Dutch national has been in good form overall, winning Transgrancanaria and two UTMB World Series events, Istria and Nice, in 2022.
Ragna Debats record and results
As mentioned, Ragna Debats has enjoyed success in a variety of disciplines.
Multi-stage running has proved more than successful for her. She claimed her first such title at the Transalpine-Run 2015, winning the Pyrennese Stage Run the following year.
She focused on other races for a while, but then in 2019 she smashed the women’s record The Coastal Challenge Costa Rica and followed it up by claiming the Marathon Des Sables title.
Her Sky performances have seen her win at several distances across her career. Ragna Debats won the 2016 Skyrace Vallibierna 34k, Madeira Ultra Skymarathon 2018, the SALOMON SKYLINE SCOTLAND 2018, Royal Race Gran Paradiso 2019, Pirin Ultra Skyrace 2019, and most recently the K-Way Skyrun 2020 100km in South Africa.
While her early career saw her pick up wins in shorter distance events, her later years have seen success in and around the 100-mile category. She finished third at Western States 2021 and has three event wins in 2022.
Finally, it would be remiss not to mention Ragna Debats’ Snowshoe running success; she became the World Champion in 2017, and then came second the following year.
Debats’ partner is Pere Aurell Bove, himself an ultra-runner, with whom she has a daughter. She travels around Europe and the World with her family and dog Bru. In 12 months across 2019 and 2020 they competed in nine races across all seven continents.
Ragna Debats is 44 having been born in March 1979
Ragna races in Merrell trail shoes