the last minute guide to DNF your first endurance obstacle race – 5 essential steps

By SOLO

dnf

Congratulations. The fact that you are reading this blog post means that you are taking your DNF very seriously, and that you will not stop at anything in order to achieve that coveted three letter status.

Today, I will share some key strategies to ensure a DNF in any endurance obstacle race you attempt. [If your first endurance obstacle race will be the Vermont Beast or, even better, the Vermont Ultra Beast, I like your style. Go big or go home. You may not need my help at all!]

Being pulled off course for not meeting time cut-offs, getting injured, cramping up are some of the more popular approaches to DNF. There are also some more creative exit strategies – attempted drowning, catching your hair on fire, sexually harassing obstacle race staff (careful with this one – it can backfire, and get you out of burpees, instead).

First things first…

Have you found yourself asking the following questions in two weeks leading up to the event?

  • What shoes should I wear?
  • Do I bring a hydration pack?
  • I’ve only done a 5k obstacle race. I’ll be fine, right?
  • I haven’t trained. I’ll be fine, right?
  • I got injured last week. I’ll be fine right?

If so, congratulations. You are already well on your way to DNF.

Now, to cement your success:

5 steps to DNF your first endurance obstacle race:

1. Carry as little as possible.

Leave your hydration pack at home. It’s a long course – you do not want anything weighing you down. They will have water stations on course, won’t they? Besides, there’s going to be plenty of obstacles, including water. Just open your mouth when you get thirsty, and voila!

2. Focus on the gear.

Wear the latest (read: brand new) trail shoes. Take your GPS watch with the heart rate monitor. Do not forget the GoPro camera (who the hell is going to believe you’ve done this race unless you have video footage?). Purchase and carry a waterproof mp3 player. It’s a long course. What if you get bored?

3. Race with a buddy.

It’s a long course. You’ll get lonely. You’ll get bored. Take a friend with you. Stick together the whole time, even if your pace is different. Friends don’t let friends race alone. Besides, if you race alone, who will take pictures of you on the obstacles? You can’t rely on the race photographers – those shots have to be just right.

4. Eat only when you feel like it.

You do that every other day of your life, so why change anything now? If you feel hungry, eat. If you don’t feel hungry, don’t. It’s really as simple as that. Throw a banana in your pocket before you start, and you should be ok. They may have some Gatorade at aid stations too. And at the last race, a fellow racer gave you some of his energy chews. You’ll be fine.

5. Take your time.

Use rest stops. Hang out at your drop bin. Chat with volunteers. It’s a long course. You don’t want to burn out. In fact, walk the whole thing.

YOUR TURN: Are there any DNF strategies that I missed? What else helped you to achieve those magical three letters in the past? And of course, if you follow the above, and manage to DNF, I would love to hear from you!

P.S. If, for some strange reason, you are not looking to DNF, check out this post and this post instead.

Helpfully yours,
Solo

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Posted September 12, 2014

4 responses to “the last minute guide to DNF your first endurance obstacle race – 5 essential steps”

  1. Mindi says:

    Seems like “Race with a Buddy” could go either way – I mean, if you’re only racing with a buddy to have company and to get pics, sure – DNF. But if you’ve got a racing buddy that will keep you motivated and moving – that’s a success ingredient if you ask me.

    • SOLO says:

      Hey, Mindi. I would still maintain that it would only be beneficial for ONE of those people. It’s very hard to find people who run at exactly the same pace as you. And even if you did, some people are stronger starters, some stronger finishers, some will have digestive issues etc etc. If you are confident in your chances of finishing – sure! I can see doing that for a Beast. However, if you are concerned about making cut offs, like the case with the Ultra Beast – having a buddy can cost you.

  2. Jason says:

    6. If you encounter people without headlamps after dark, make sure you stick with them and keep them safe. The course officials will totally understand while they’re pulling you off the course at cut-off time.

    Note to self for next year, start earlier or help fewer people.

    • SOLO says:

      GAH! That sounds frustrating, indeed! I find it really hard to find people who are truly same pace as you. And if they do not have the appropriate gear – makes it that much more frustrating!

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