An Ultrarunner’s Favorite Excuses for DNFing

OK, so I dropped at the Lean Horse Hundred at mile 64.5. 

Before everything went to shit… I was actually having a great race. Some of the other runners even told me so. They said I looked strong. My pace was right on target. But then everything went wrong.  It was my fault and I know it. In hindsight, I messed up nutrition-wise and I should have known better.

But rather than admitting that this DNF (Did Not Finish) was my fault, what I really need now is a good excuse!

Before the race, some of the other runners and I chatted. The weather conditions were ideal and the course was straight forward, making getting lost unlikely. That meant that if we DNF'ed this race we would not be able to use two of our favorite excuses: bad weather and getting lost.

We joked that before any race it is a good idea to have a few possible excuses in your back pocket to use for DNFing, just in case the need arose. That conversation and my subsequent experience got me thinking of all the excuses I have heard. A couple of these I made up myself, most of the others I borrowed. A few I took from postings I read on Kevin Sayer's UltRunR site.

Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. The weather was too hot.
  2. The weather was too cold.
  3. The weather was too humid.
  4. I couldn't stop throwing up.
  5. I misread the race application. I thought it said this was only a 10-k, not a 100-m. WTF!?!
  6. The aid station volunteers didn't fill my water bottles correctly.
  7. I got dehydrated.
  8. My feet hurt.
  9. I got blisters.
  10. I fell……hard.
  11. I was peeing blood.
  12. I started out too fast.
  13. I started out too slow.
  14. My crew told me my pet/family member died.
  15. I got lost.
  16. My pacer was too fast.
  17. My pacer was too slow (that would NEVER EVER happen to me!).
  18. The race director did not mark the course well enough.
  19. Some SOB @$$#0!* stole/moved the trail markers!
  20. My costume wasn't cool enough (see Javelina Jundred).
  21. My headlamp batteries went dead.
  22. There was a tornado/earthquake/blizzard/hurricane/forest fire/hail/severe thunderstorm/flash flood/ mudslide/avalanche/sand storm/other natural disaster.
  23. The aid stations ran out of food.
  24. The aid stations didn't have the right kind of food.
  25. My pacer didn't B!%&^ slap me when I really needed it!
  26. I couldn't eat.
  27. I ate too much.
  28. I got tired.
  29. I didn't train hard enough.
  30. I was overtrained.
  31. I pooped my pants which caused chafing.
  32. My nipples started bleeding…ow.
  33. I realized I wasn't going to win (for those elite among us).
  34. I realized I wasn't going to finish (for everybody else).
  35. I missed a cut off.
  36. Cut offs? What cut offs! I don't care about no steenkin' cut offs! You jes' go an' try an' stop me!
  37. I didn't drink enough.
  38. I drank too much and got hyponatremic
  39. I  stopped peeing. 
  40. My blood sugar got too low.
  41. I passed out.
  42. I had a seizure.
  43. I didn't want to die.
  44. I thought I was already dead..
  45. My handler/crew/pacer threatened to divorce me.
  46. They didn't have the right kind of sports drink.
  47. I didn't want that buckle after all.
  48. I got hypothermia.
  49. I got heat stroke.
  50. I got kidney failure and needed emergency dialysis.
  51. My quads were shot.
  52. My heart rate monitor told me I had no pulse.
  53. I sprained my ankle.
  54. I had a headache. 
  55. My stomach hurt.
  56. I tripped on a rock. There was bone sticking out.
  57. A branch poked me in the eye.
  58. My pacer forgot to bring the cattle prod.
  59. The cattle prod batteries went dead.
  60. I lost too much weight.
  61. I gained too much weight.
  62. I didn't use the right run/walk ratio.
  63. I had a run in with a: cougar/bear/moose/rattlesnake/mean dog/mad cow/bees nest/skunk/ porcupine/hippopotamus/other wild animal.
  64. The course was too hilly.
  65. The course was too flat.
  66. It just wasn't my day.
  67. A bunch of ultra-groupies kidnapped me and and held me hostage against my will.
  68. I had a cold/stomach virus/flu/strep throat/bronchitis/giardia/pneumonia/malaria/other illness.
  69. My crew made me stop.
  70. My crew forgot to show up.
  71. My drop bags fell off the truck.
  72. The cut off times were unfair.
  73. Life is unfair.
  74. I wasn't acclimated to altitude/heat/humidity/other conditions.
  75. I got pulled for medical reasons.
  76. The race director and volunteers packed up and went home.
  77. I ran off a cliff.
  78. I started hallucinating.
  79. I decided that it wasn't fun anymore.
  80. My plantar fasciitis/stress fracture/iliotibial band syndrome/other old injury flared up.
  81. It was so hot, the soles of my shoes melted (see Badwater). 
  82. My toenail(s) fell off.
  83. I ran out of toenails to fall off.
  84. I decided that golf or bowling sounds like a helluva lot more fun and a lot smarter too.  
  85. I stopped to have "just one" beer and couldn't get going again..
  86. Actually, despite what I told you yesterday, this run was only for training. That's right. I never really intended on finishing anyway.
  87. Honestly, I was just a crying punk-ass baby and I couldn't suck it up.

The most popular ones always seem to be the ones in which you blame someone or something else, never yourself. Let me know if there are any I overlooked or which you think I should add.

In truth, I had a great time at Lean Horse this weekend. So much so that I cannot wait to do it again. Too bad I have to wait an entire year. But I do need a little time to digest all of my experience (and to replace my severe calorie deficit) before I write a more detailed intellectual and inspiring post about it.

In the meantime, I'd prefer to dream up new excuses for DNFing!

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15 responses

  1. Actually, despite what I told you yesterday, this run was only for training. That's right. I never really intended on finishing anyway.

    August 27, 2008 at 1:09 am

  2. Man, sorry to hear about the DNF. You'll be back though, and with sweet revenge. Rest up and recover well.

    August 27, 2008 at 3:56 am

  3. Nice job getting 64 miles done! Those all seem like valid excuses…Let's just hope you only ever need one at a time.

    August 27, 2008 at 5:28 am

  4. Thanks. Yes, I think 64.5 miles in nothing to be ashamed of. I DNF'd at a 100k race earlier this year due to weather so at least I went past that. The run was actually a very good experience, until the very end. I did learn much from it. Hopefully, I won't need any of these excuses.

    August 27, 2008 at 5:51 am

  5. That's right… it was only a "training" run;) Of course, every run is training for future runs.

    August 27, 2008 at 5:54 am

  6. It is a bummer after all of my hard training. However, I know in my heart that 100 miles is possible. There were only 36 more miles to go. My legs surprisingly have been less sore than after the 50 milers I have done. I just need to not do anything dumb again, such as not eat for a couple of aid stations. I will do this. The hardest part now is being patient and resting/recovering before my next attempt.

    August 27, 2008 at 6:03 am

  7. I had the cattle prod all ready and charged…just didn't get the chance to use it! Good job on getting as far as we did. There will be other races and for certain other Lean Horses. Cheers!

    August 27, 2008 at 8:02 am

  8. WHew. I know you didnt reach your goal for a variety of reasons…however, thats a lotta miles. A whole lotta miles. :)
    get lots of rest, recovery and Pancakes. Yum.

    August 27, 2008 at 12:32 pm

  9. 64.5 is incredible! You'll be back – and you'll own that course. Think of what a great base you'll have for next year with all your hard work. Looking forward to the race report. Congrats on your achievement!

    August 27, 2008 at 6:20 pm

  10. I'm just very very glad that you were there to keep me safe. I doubt that I would have made it as far as I did had I been alone.
    Already, I am dreaming of future ultras….I think that I've become addicted to the challenge of trying to run ever longer distances.

    August 27, 2008 at 6:23 pm

  11. You know, it is (I am ?) pretty crazy.
    This spring I wanted to do 62.5 miles but was disappointed when weather allowed me to get only to mile 41. Yet now, even though I exceeded that distance, went farther than I ever have before, and should be proud of it, part of me wishes that I had gone even farther.
    I can't wait until next year. I only wish that I didn't have to wait so long until I tried doing 100 miles again. Some folks take 3 or 4 attempts before they succeed in running 100 miles. If it were easy, everyone would be doing them. The key is persistence and not giving up.
    Call me impatient but if I must have any more DNFs, I'd like to get them all out of the way now and succeed in reaching my goal.

    August 27, 2008 at 6:31 pm

  12. You're right…64.5 miles is a long way. You don't realize it so much while you are actually doing it. You get focused and all you think about is relentlessly moving forward, no matter what, keep moving forward.
    What put it into perspective was when we had to drive back to the 50 mile turnaround the next day to pick up Haliku's car. It was a long way away.
    I have been greatly enjoying replacing my calorie-deficit these last few days.
    Food is definitely good. It is the real reason why I run. I love to eat.

    August 27, 2008 at 6:38 pm

  13. Congratulations on a strong attempt. I plan to use the "I ran off a cliff." excuse some day. It's perfect. On to the next event!

    August 28, 2008 at 5:50 am

  14. Thanks! I am sure that if we continue to do these, we'll be able to think of a few more.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:56 am

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