by Carrie Adams
Our first ever Spartan Ultra Beast has come and gone. More than a marathon on three mountain peaks in Killington, where 325 would begin and only 162 would finish. There are a multitude of reasons why the DNFs were so prevalent, including a crew who have since dubbed themselves, “The Lost Tribe” who got lost on the first loop that added an additional six miles to their trek. There were those who were admittedly ill-prepared and those who developed injuries, there were those who just simply didn’t want to continue, the thought of returning for another loop or taking another step too much to bear.
We’ve recounted the high points and the winners, the ones who can call themselves finishers who can wear their glow-in-the-dark medals with pride, who conquered the Ultra Beast, met the time cut-offs, survived the storm, and crossed the finish line. And that story is inspiring. But there is another story, the story of the 163 others, the ones who left the mountain without a medal, who had no ceremonious step over the finish line… the story of those with the designation DNF: Did Not Finish. A painful designation that many had never experienced, the agony of something started that will remain unfinished and whether they were three miles or a full loop from the end, a DNF is just that; something that is left to be completed. A DNF leaves a mark not easily overcome.
There are those who will rail and rant against it, who will excuse it away and who will make it a reason to never return. And the emotional reaction is wrapped up in a moment that almost was… but never will be, and it’s not easy to reconcile. For some, the DNF has come to represent something else altogether… something to redeem. It has become the ignition of a fire that won’t easily burn out. Because the only thing worse than living in the past is not recognizing that there is a future ahead. And for many of them, that future is set on finishing what eluded them in Vermont. A Spartan Ultra Beast finish. Redemption.
Here are their stories in their own words.
“I originally pictured the finish line as a goal. But the real finish is so much further than the finish line. It’s at the Pickle Barrel for the after party. Its Sunday when those racers take the field. Its next month when people are still asking “Well how bad was it? Really.” Its next year at the Amesbury Sprint. The NJ Super and at the Death Race. The finish will be every single day after the race, whether its training for another race or just having a run. It will be that sense of pride when I talk with these other crazy Spartans and we smile at the word “Crazy”. The finish line is so much more than an inflated arch. It’s that accomplishment of completing the task, whatever the task maybe.” – James Horgan (read more from James HERE.)
“DNF’ing a mere 3.5 miles from the finish and missing the time cutoff by minutes is a bitter pill to swallow. One can’t help but look back at the race and see where minutes could have been easily shaven off had they truly gone 100%, which would have turned this failure into success. It’s painful to fail and fall short but to fail knowingly that you didn’t lay it all on the line and could have prepared better is worse because it’s almost lie cheating yourself and squandering an opportunity. It was a valuable lesson and given the chance at redemption, which I do crave, I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that I’d come out on top.” – Paul DiMarino
“I’ve been racing for a year now, both in road races and in five Spartan Races. I have succeeded and suppressed my goals in every race I’ve tackled. My goal for the UB was to simply complete it. I did not meet that goal. What was going to be a crowning achievement in maiden year of racing was a failure. I’m settled on redemption. I feel this is a great lesson, not only for me but for my children. I want to show them that when life challenges you, you don’t just curl up in a ball and give up. You take your past experience and use it to train tougher than you ever did, fight harder and go get what you want. I’ll be training everyday with my green wristband to remind me of this.” – Tanya Logan
“It was supposed to be a representation of how much I have changed my life. I was supposed to leave my old self on one side of the finish line and hold my UB medal on the other side. Getting lost was my own fault, I didn’t push hard enough, I didn’t train on enough hills, too many diet cheat days, doubt after doubt… and it hurts. How much more of my old self do I still carry with me? How much of my old life is still weighing me down? My old self constantly accepted failure. This current me cannot and will not. I need to know that I am no longer who I was.” -John Pollock
“DNF Ultra: No regrets, no excuses, no more words about the past! SR better give me a tougher course and the chance for redemption because I will not be defeated twice!” – Chad Weberg
“This is my first ever DNF. The disappointment is still lingering today. All I can think about is signing up for next year’s race to earn the redemption I feel I need. I did not quit, I was pulled at the 10 mile check point on my second lap. I now know that even though I could have finished it if allowed, I need to move a little faster. I can only hope that I will be allowed to redeem myself.” – Jason Ross
“I left a piece of me on those mountains, I want it back. Plain and simple.” – Hector Puente.