Finding Joy in the DNS

For anyone who has ever signed up for a race via Ultra Signup, you are probably familiar with the most dreaded of features – a listing that displays, in full glory for everyone to see, your DNFs and DNSs. The DNFs are in bold red, screaming at you – “hey you – you failed!” The DNS’s are a bit more subdued, just a nice yellow – a kind of warning. But I’ve heard of ultra runners going to great lengths to avoid those awful stigmas on their ultra record.

I’m no stranger to it myself – I’ve unregistered myself before several races I knew I couldn’t run, solely to avoid that scarlet (or yellow) letter of shame. And as Western States approached these past few weeks, I sat there, staring at my registration history, wondering if I should “unregister” to avoid a blemish on my still-quite-small ultra signup record.

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A pretty tiny little resume. Excited to work on that.

I reached out to my friend (and F3 at States!) Devon Yanko for her take. Unregister? Hell no, she said – you EARNED that DNS.

Be proud of that DNS.

I’ve struggled a bit the past few months when a stranger asked “what’s your sport” or “what kind of athlete are you?” The obvious answer is “obstacle racer,” but I hesitate to describe myself as an “ultra runner.” I feel too unproven,  too new, too brash to declare myself that given my limited racing history. Like running my way into States was a fluke, and something that I won’t be able to replicate, or ever fulfill.

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