Todd Ragsdale endures The agony of the feet

The Talent runner breaks a world record, covering 102 miles without shoes
Barefoot runner Todd Ragsdale. 4/24/10
Anita Burke

A peppermint mineral foot soak and a sense of personal satisfaction both felt pretty good to Talent runner Todd Ragsdale on Monday as he relaxed at home after running a world-record distance without shoes over the weekend.

Between 8 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday, the 41-year-old logged 102 miles — 413 laps on the South Medford High School track — barefoot.

Ragsdale made his run in the Relay For Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, running as part of a team fielded by the north Medford Fred Meyer store.

"It was a really cool event and a humbling place to do this," he said, adding that his struggle was less than that facing those battling cancer.

Running barefoot left his feet "swollen up like elephant feet," he said.

"I have blisters and soreness and I had some bruises, but they're pretty much lost in the swelling now," Ragsdale said.

An avid runner who has won the Crater Lake Marathon in the past, Ragsdale had run barefoot to build strength and tune his stride, but in January started toughening up his feet so he could cover serious distances sans shoes.

He stood, marched and jogged in a tray of gravel in his living room, and ran his first race barefoot in April — the Bridge The Gap 10-kilometer run on the Bear Creek Greenway — finishing just seconds slower than previous runs in shoes.

At the Medford Relay for Life he made his move on the Guinness World Record for distance run barefoot in 24-hours — 90.6 miles.

He reached that goal shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday with friends, family and fans cheering. A local television crew documented the moment to help provide the verification Ragsdale will need to submit to record keepers. He also has other videos, witness statements and logs of the miles and hours he put in, all ready to be sent in for review by Guinness officials.

The emotional high of knowing that he had reached the record sustained him for about another hour, but at roughly mile 93, the pain hit.

"My feet broke down," Ragsdale said. "They were done running."

Although his pace slowed, he kept moving for another four hours, to push his total 12 miles higher than the existing record.

"I know I did it and that's really satisfying," he said, noting that people who cared about him and the record were at the track with him.

While recognition in the record books might be coming from this feat of the feet, Ragsdale is eyeing an even tougher goal — running shoeless in the Williams-to-Ashland "Pine to Palm" 100-mile trail race in September.

"I said I would do 100 miles," he said. "A part of me wonders if it is physiologically possible, but I would like to try it on the gravel-strewn forest roads."

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 541-776-4485 or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.


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