"Did-Not-Finish" or DNF happens in races. You may be a good runner, have many races finish under your name, all it takes is one turn of event and your race changes. We have seen it many times, experienced it ourselves - but it takes a lot of courage to call it a day and learn from it. Team athlete Roy Yeow went through this in the TNF Hong Kong race, and this is his story.
The TNF Hong Kong Race Report, sort of.
Being away from trail running for most of the 2nd half of 2014 to focus on Ironman Langkawi, makes me look forward to this race. With elevation of over 6000 meters, and a cutoff of 27 hrs, it is one of the toughest race in Hong Kong. Having done Vibram HK 100 and TransLantau 100 this year, the thought completing another 100KM in HK is encouraging. However, having heard of the horror story from 2013 where it was pouring cats and dogs, I was cautious of this race and was checking out the weather forecast daily weeks prior to this race.
|Bib collection with David Wong from Singapore.|
This will not be the regular race report, as this is probably not a report as I DNF this race. Here's how it goes:
Opting to stay in the city instead of the hostel at the starting point, I arrived at the starting point with plenty of time to spare. With the cold weather, it was a challenge to keep warm. Starting close to the front helps to clear some traffic as the road narrows into single file trail about 800 meters into the race.
However, immediately I can sense that this race will not be my race as the feeling of tiredness 1KM into the race is not normal. The game plan at this point suddenly changed and troubleshooting of what is the condition of the body was working over time. As I continue on, the clumsiness of my steps up the first hill was obvious. With limbs that are not as balanced as regular runners, the immediate step at this point of time is to focus and ensure I get to the next checkpoint in one piece.
Even though I still managed to move at the planned pace, the clumsiness and tiredness lingered on. The troubleshooting so far came to a very simple conclusion - I am not ready and capable to complete this 100KM race. Unlike many runners that runs to fan their ego to the world, the simple acceptance of own condition allows for a simple decision, I will dropped off the race. Knowing there are more torturing hills, the thought of putting myself in danger going through the tougher hills in front is not a wise idea. After all, what is a race when there are more important things in life (and I am not even referring to Facebook updates btw).
|With Dr. Wong along the route. Photo courtesy of Dr. Wong Fook Seong and Tan Kim Lai|
There are still one issue though. I have left my walking pole at checkpoint 4 which is still a overwhelming 30KM away. Having went through the possibility on the plate, I decided to just walk to that point. The rest of the journey was not without any actions but to spare all from the details, I managed to reach checkpoint 4 with about 2 hrs to spare to cut off.
Met fellow Malaysian there and as he has lost his walking pole at that checkpoint, I offered mine to allow him to move on. What a joy when you stepped back and knows you enabled others to achieve their goal. This is far more meaningful things in life rather than idolising oneself to the world.
As more Malaysian passed by, I wish them the best and waited for another friend that I know is struggling behind. Again, stepping back and helped others when they are in trouble is as joyful as completing own race. Since this race has an unique feature of allowing 100KM runners to downgrade to 50KM at this point, it was an option for me to get back to the finishing line and get my stuffs. Having said that, a DNF is a DNF, even though I completed the 50KM within the cutoff time and was given an official time and medal. I came to this race with an intention to run 100KM, so anything less than completing a 100KM is a DNF. Yup, not happy to DNF obviously but learning to accept it as it is will allows us to run without the stress and just enjoy the day - race or training.
What I've learnt from this DNF.
This blog entry is all about how to be positive when things are not going the way you want it to be. Looking at the positive in life when other things are not going smoothly. Failure to complete a race does not makes us a failure, failure to accept things as it is is a failure. Challenges like this is what makes running and life interesting. This race has shown many sides of humans - ugly and beautiful included - but guess positivity only comes when you look at the bright and the good side.