Saturday, January 24, 2015

Top Ten Reasons to DNF in an Ultra Marathon

DNF: Did Not Finish

I DNF'd my 3rd HURT 100 race this past weekend, after finishing the past 2 years. I've always said that you're not a real ultra runner until you DNF. For those of you who have never DNF'd (Jamil Coury ahem) you just won't know what I'm talking about until it happens. Inevitably in the minds of DNFing ultra runners everywhere, it feels like we just weren't good enough or tough enough no matter what our excuse is, like "Yeah I died but you know, looking back, I'm sure I could've gone a little farther."

In addition to the shame of not finishing and despite the fact that you thought about DNFing for 10 hours before quitting (so long in fact that you are exhausted with thinking or talking about it) everyone else will want to ask you about it and you might as well come up with great reasons why you wanted to have a beer and nap before you reached 100 miles. I present the:

Top 10 Reasons to DNF in an Ultra Marathon

1. You died. Obviously this is the best reason to DNF, as it requires no explanation and proves that you will go to any lengths to finish your ultra marathon. Unfortunately you will not be around to receive any accolades for the ultimate badassery.

2. Your Garmin Read 100 miles. As a race director I know that runners rely on their GPS watches to the point of insanity. In the case of the DNF, you can use this Garmin info to your advantage. When you reach 100 miles on your watch in your 100 mile event and you are still not at the finish line stop at the next aid station and insist that you are done because your watch says so. Then get a ride to the finish and insist on getting your buckle.

3. Missed a Cut Off. This one is pretty legit. I have 100% respect for those runners that spend the max time on the course and still get cut off. It takes true dedication to finishing to be DFL (Dead Fucking Last) all day and even all night.

4. Rhabdomyolysis. If your kidneys are going and you're pissing brown then maybe it was time to DNF a while go. Another pretty legit excuse. Just make sure it's not chaffing causing the bloody pee. TMI I know, but seriously a possibility.

5. Got Off Course. You're an ultra runner and you pride yourself on running ridiculously long distances, however, if you get off course and have to run extra miles it may be time to DNF.

6. Wrong Gels at the Aid Stations. I admit I'm a little bummed when the aid station says, "No we don't have coke, hopefully pepsi will do?" I mean HELLO! You know I signed up for this race, how did you not know to have freaking coke and not pepsi. Ultra runners can be very picky and grumpy about their gear and nutrition, so it only makes sense that if the aid stations don't have your gluten free cake / chia seed snot / paleo bagel / ketogenic banana / avocado bacon / vegetarian chicken / special diet then it may be time to DNF.

7. The Race was Just a Training Run. If the race is only a training run then why not stop when you hear the call of the local Brewery? DNF= Delicious Nighttime Fun.

8. Not Having Fun Anymore. I'm not sure why we think that ultras will be "fun" but this damn excuse is always the seed that grows into the full blooming DNF flower for me. It begins the gradual slide into quitting, especially when paired with any of the above reasons. I mean I must have my ketogenic bananas!!!

9. You Can't Walk Anymore. Sounds reasonable to anyone who doesn't run ultras. But we all know about that old ultra saying: Run until you can only walk, walk until you can only crawl, crawl until you finish damn thing:
10. You're Running the HURT 100 in Hawaii. HURT has a higher attrition rate than Hardrock. Plus you're sweating profusely in the dense jungle with no breeze imagining waves breaking on impossibly sandy beaches with hot surfer dudes walking by and retirees in speedos. Wait, nix the last one. You'd have to be insane not to quit and head to the beach with a Longboard Lager in one hand and a bowl of poke in the other. Oh, and that's the story of my DNF. Just thought I'd work my race report in here.

Hot surfer dudes

Want More?

For more daily fitness ideas, inspiration, and humor, check out my Facebook Page

Yoga based core and strength exercises on my YouTube Channel

A little crazy on Instagram

Short, sweet and sassy on Twitter

Entertaining 5 million at a time on Google+


  1. THIS IS AWESOME :) Sorry about the DNF but HILARIOUS Top 10... Thank you!

  2. I definitely don't want to DNF during the Tahoe 200. No way, even if I had to sustain myself for 4 days only eating VFuel Maple Bacon!

  3. Epic….. Totally Get It….. Cheers

  4. All legitimate reasons... No. 8 usually gets me...

  5. Great writing Candice! Funny perspective to DNF's :)

  6. OH MY GOD THE STICK FIGURE DRAWING was hysterical... could not stop laughing! Funniest thing I have seen all week :) ... great article!!!!!

  7. I absolutely loved this post Candice! I haven't run my first ultra-marathon yet, however I can totally relate to these top 10! Number 2 is great! Thanks for sharing!


Thank you for commenting!