DNF (Did Not Finish) - An Athletes' Nightmare?

How many of us enter a race with a nagging thought in our subconscious minds: please let me finish the race? To have the letter DNF (Did Not Finish - for the uninitiated) behind your name (FOR ALL TO SEE!) is an experience we would all rather avoid!
How many of us enter a race with a nagging thought in our subconscious minds: "please let me finish the race"?

Plenty, if not all of us!

The distance of the race is irrelevant. It is the task itself we find daunting.

To have the letter DNF (Did Not Finish - for the uninitiated) behind your name (FOR ALL TO SEE!) is an experience we would all rather avoid! The recent World Triathlon champs highlighted this fear for me when I looked at the results.

I also recall looking at the results of IM Hawaii to see the host of big names who could not cross the finish line. At World Triathlon champs, I noticed the great, former World Champion, Emma Carney (right) had these infamous letters after her name.

In Hawaii and Florida, 2 huge names in the multi-sport world also saw the dreaded acronym behind their names, Tim deBoom and Stefan Riesen. 2 time and current champion deBoom could not finish Hawaii due to kidney problems.

The great Comrades legend Bruce Fordyce also had this distinction one year.


How Does A DNF Feel?

If you have never had the dubious pleasure of not finishing a race, allow me to tell you. It feels lousy! There probably is no lower point in an athlete's career when he does not finish a race (other than being injured). Regardless of what the reason for stopping is, one still feels one has "failed." It probably comes close to failing a test at school. Didn't you just feel stupid?

The next step in the process is this state of denial. We may sit for hours and ponder the questions "Why me, why now, why this?" and "what have I done to deserve this?" or "But I trained so hard for this" and "it's not fair." I am sure most of us have thought similar things at these times.

My main race this year was Zofingen - a race I attempted for the first time. I ended up walking for 2-3 km before picking up the pace to a jog and completing the race - way off where I was positioned.

During the time I walked I mentally "sold my bike and shoes" to about 6 people, saying this was my "last race!" Yip, I know. You thought the same thing too!


The Impact Of DNF

I know athletes who quit the sport because of one DNF too many. In one athlete's case, it was his first and only DNF.

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So, it can change the course of your sporting life from being "highly active" to JUWAAR or Just Another Wannabe Athlete Reminiscing about their halcyon days over a barbecue and beers.


What DNF Really Stands For.

For me, a bad race or a DNF has great potential "spin-offs." Things happen to all of us even the top athletes as I illustrated earlier.

One of the great Ironman athletes is this year's winner Peter Reid. He experienced a patch of a few DNF's over a 2 year period. On more than occasion, he made utterances that he was "finished with the sport." He went for all sorts of medical tests in an effort to determine the causes of his "non performance."

Then he returned to win Hawaii in 2003, he returned to his best form to take his 3rd title. He is not the first example of athletes who experience a torrid run of results only to return to better fitness levels.

A DNF simply tests your resolve. It asks questions of you. You will best answer those questions! For some, it may be one bad result too many and that is also quite "permissible" too. For others it will simply mean a change on what the letters DNF stand for: Definitely Not Finished!

How Many Times Have You Experienced A DNF (Did Not Finish)?

Once.
Twice.
Three Times.
Over Four Times.

About The Author

Glenn Macnamara is an elite duathlete. He is the brand Ambassador for Evox Nutrition and Supplement company.