The body of Todd Ragsdale, an ultrarunner who went missing while on a run on Thursday, January 28, in hills outside of Ashland, Oregon, was found on Saturday, January 30, at approximately 1:30 p.m. local time. Ragsdale’s disappearance has traumatized the running community in southern Oregon, a region long known as a place where ultrarunners can find access to world-class trails and a close-knit community of like-minded athletes.
Ragsdale, 46, lived in Talent, Oregon, and was known for running local races in costume. In 2010, he set the record for the most miles run barefoot in a 24-hour period. Last Thursday, he went for a run in Lithia Park, a 93-acre park surrounding Ashland Creek, near downtown Ashland.
According to the Mail Tribune, in nearby Medford, “as many as a hundred” volunteers arrived on Friday to help with the search, many of them runners organized through the Facebook page of Southern Oregon Runners, Ragsdale’s local running club. “We’re very grateful for the response we’ve had both from the surrounding counties and the running community,” Sgt. Shawn Richards, of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, told the Mail Tribune. “Obviously they’re a very tight-knit group, and it’s just been an amazing response.”
Volunteers and local investigators spent two days in an area south of Lithia Park, where Ashland Creek descends from the Siskiyou Mountains. The search occurred in difficult conditions—temperatures hovered near freezing, and it rained during much of the effort. The area is popular with trail runners, and many designated and undesignated trails wind through the rugged, thickly wooded terrain, increasing the difficulty of the search. Ragsdale’s body was located in an area above the park on Saturday afternoon. In a press conference that day, Jackson County Sheriff Corey Falls said that there was no sign of foul play when the body was discovered, but the medical examiner had yet to reach any conclusions.
“He didn’t know the meaning of the word limit,” Hal Koerner, owner of the Ashland running store Rogue Valley Runners, and one of Ragsdale’s many friends in the region, told Outside. “He lived by the seat of pants even when he wasn’t wearing them, like his ritualistic kilt wearing.” (Ragsdale often raced in a kilt, neglecting to wear anything else, including shoes or underwear.)
“He ran every, and I mean every, race in this part of the woods,” Koerner says. “Each weekend, 5k to 100-miler. He kind of raced with a chip on his shoulder I think, but you would never know it because his smile was so infectious.”