What I learnt from my first ultra marathon DNF

DNF - Did not finish

I was so close yet so far and it all happened so quickly. Much like Robbie Britton in the 2015 UTMB I expected my first DNF to be the result of collapsing on the trail and being carried out by the marshalls. The reality was again different.

In a split second it was all over 96 miles into a 100 mile ultra just 5.5 miles from the finish and in a fairly comfortable third place.

“Are you Jason?” asked the woman in the passenger seat of the van that had just pulled up next to me

“Yes” I replied

“Do you want taking to the finish?”

Before I had even thought about it I had already hoped into the front east of the van and we were heading to the finish.

I was devastated and disappointed in myself, this wasn’t how it was supposed to end. I felt sick and worse than I had in the hours that had past since 7am that morning when we set off from Holy Island.

I had failed and let myself down as well as my wife and mother who had trailed around Northumberland for the past 22 and a half hours supporting me at checkpoints and now waiting for me at the finish line.

So what made me throw in the towel so close to the end? Its hard to pinpoint one single thing but it was more a combination of things which all added up to my mind giving up and accepting the lift instead of pressing on.

Yes the body was aching and ready for some much needed rest but it would have carried on regardless if the mind was willing to push it onwards.

So what went wrong in such a short space of time? I made a navigational error which saw me go off course and have to wade through lots of tall wet grass that caused me to get wet feet and legs causing me to get cold really quickly and start shivering. I had convinced myself I was going to be disqualified for not sticking to the course.

The reality was I wasn’t that far off course and could have easily got myself back on track but after being awake for 22hours and traveling over 95 miles the mind just wasn’t thinking straight.

I called Victoria in a panic which in turn caused her to panic and me realize what stress she was under too. I couldn’t do that to her so I knew I had to get to the finish asap.

That’s when they sent out the rescue party to look for me. In the meantime after a stern talking to I pulled myself together and started to make my way to the finish and then the van pulled up and within a matter of seconds I was inside and speeding towards the finish line under diesel power rather than muscle power feeling rather sorry for myself.

I think this will be my last ultra for 2015 but support crew willing I’ll be giving another 100 miler a go next year.

I still have a few running goals to achieve in 2015 – a sub 40min 10k time at the Leeds Abbey Dash and I’m going to give it my best shot to win the Hardmoors Roseberry Topping Trail Marathon but that’s probably it in terms of competitions.

Other than that I’m just going to get out in the Yorkshire Dales and run for fun and because I enjoy it.

So what did I learn from my first failure

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