A DNF or DID NOT FINISH in a race may be a thing of the past. It is now the norm in many races to pick up participants whose pace fall's below the races time limit and then shuttle them forward on the course allowing them to finish and receive a medal.
Here's one of the Rock n Roll race series options for runners who fall behind the course time limit:
"Board a “sag wagon” shuttle to move forward on the course, where they may continue to participate in the event, maintaining the minimum pace required."
I personally saw this at the RnR Dallas Half marathon when I was pacing my friend to her first half marathon. She was on pace to finishing below 3 hours but suffered a calf strain and had to limp her way to the finish after mile 8. At about mile 12 we saw a shuttle drop off participants to let them finish. Here my friend was limping to the finish line earning all 13.1 miles for the finishers medal and to see the "move forward" shuttle was disheartening.
I for one would never take the "move forward" shuttle option. I remember during my 2nd marathon, where the course somehow got misdirected, I was worn out and as I crossed the finish line my Garmin GPS watch read 23 miles. They tried to hand me a medal but I shrugged them off and ran past the finishing chute to go run another 3.2 grueling miles around the university to complete my 26.2 miles and rightfully claim my finisher's medal. To me the medal means something. It represents each grueling mile that I had to suffer through to get it. It represents the training that I went through to take the courage to tow the line of that race that 6 months ago I thought I would never complete. It represents many things and that is why you will never see me taking one of those "move forward" shuttles.
|From the Dallas RNR HM where my friend had to limp|
to the finish line.
Is a DNF such a bad thing? I've DNF'ed at a race before due to injury and had to limp back to my car. I learned that maybe I needed more time to come back and I should have probably taken it easier to prevent re-injuring myself. A marathon is supposed to be hard and sometimes it will beat you down to the point where you have to call it a day and DNF. That's what makes it great! Like the saying goes "If it were easy everyone would be doing it."
I'm all for anybody and everybody going out there and running or walking a group run or a race. I've walked complete races with other runners and I've started my own running group to try get the community healthier one step at a time. But please know that when you start a race, you may have to DNF and there's nothing wrong with that.
What are your thoughts of the "move forward" shuttles? Does it rub you the wrong way as it does me? Post a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.