Ragna Debats

Around the world with family, dog and competitions

Ragna Debats has dominated the female trail running scene in recent years like no other. In 2018 she became Skyrunning and Trail Running World Champion, could win the Marathon des Sables and 2019 the Transvulcania. And also recently she could celebrate on the long distances: In early March 2022, she finished the 126 kilometers of the Transgrancanaria in just over 16 hours and were able to clearly win the women's classification.

Ragna Debats und Mann Pere Aurell

From riding to trail elite

Debats, however, did not always want to run, her childhood dream was on the back of horses. She wanted to become an Olympic rider and pursued this goal also with perseverance, moved for it from her Dutch homeland to Germany. But at some point she realized that this dream would not come true for her. But sometimes dreams have to be shattered so that equally great or even better ones can come true. Because when Ragna came to trail running, everything suddenly felt right.

With trail running, she found again the freedom that had haunted her riding for so long: being one with nature and experiencing it firsthand. Even if she came to trail running relatively late - in 2018 she achieved the highest distinction: Ragna Debats became double world champion in trail running and at the age of 39 Skyrunning. She says, "I may not have become the rider I always wanted to be. For that, I've managed to do something my body was made for."


Ragna Debats mit Mann, Kind und Hund

Ragna Debats: The first athlete in the Merrell Test Lab Team

Ragna is under contract with outdoor manufacturer Merrell in the international team and contributes intensively to the development of new trail shoe models of the brand. She became the first member of the Merrell Test Lab, where athletes work closely with the development team to create running shoes ideally suited to their needs. The athletes are the first to test the prototypes and actively provide feedback on the new models and help with further development. Ragna Debats, for example, was closely involved and her feedback helped design the Merrell models Long Sky and Skyfire.

In addition to her trail running shoes, however, Ragna also likes to run and train in barefoot shoes. She uses them specifically during shorter training sessions to strengthen her muscles in order to then be safe on the road during competitions in technical terrain. "Barefoot shoes have really taken me a long way in training. It's important to me to make my running sessions as effective as possible, with as little weight as possible and the feeling of running as naturally as possible. This helps me a lot to improve my technique. The minimalist sole forces me to control my stride length and thus save energy, which I can use well at the end of long runs," describes Ragna.


Ragnas Debats: family adventure around the world

Ragna's partner Pere Aurell is also a successful runner and won the Skyrunning Ultra Championship in 2018. Not only are they both elite runners, but in addition to their shared passion for trail running, they also share a family with daughter Onna. And this is very important to the two: they optimize their training times around family life and even if it would probably be easier if only one of them was a professional athlete and competed, they draw a lot from the training runs and adventures they have together, traveling through mountains, valleys, forests and meadows. 

With their family went on the road in 2020. The three have been on the road ever since, exploring the world and participating in the most extreme and challenging trail running competitions on each of a total of seven continents. On this trip, the "Rolling Mountains" Merrell accompanies the family.


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