Not my first ever DNS, (that’s a, ‘did not start’ for the uninitiated), but I believe it’s my first DNS for an ‘A’ race that I’d put a fair bit of training and focus into.
I envisaged a horrible day of standing on the sidelines, experiencing that weird sense of envy and simultaneous joy that I’m not out there suffering too, trying to occupy the long stretches of time between seeing people start and welcoming them back. But that’s not what happened…
I had a great day! I was there for my friends, I made some new ones, I got a better appreciation for Kat’s support for me at a bunch of races over the years.
Here are a few things I found helpful and will make your next DNS Day, (because if you do this for long enough you’ll have one)… a bit more bearable:
Get Some Exercise In
If there is something you can do, do it, (I’m presuming if you’re not racing it’s because you’re ill/injured). I.e. I couldn’t run, but could bike just fine, so me and Kat went for a nice spin after we cheered everyone from the race start. It takes away a bit of the ‘exercise envy’ and feeling of laziness because you’re not towing the line. It can also help limit some of the damage from the beer and pizza that will inevitably happen that evening, (more on that later).
Make Yourself Useful
Fill bottles, carry bags, drive cars – whatever you can do to take the stress off your athlete friends. You’ll feel more part of the event. And you’ll gain a greater sense of gratitude for the people in your life who do that for you.
Be Mindful in Your Support
Think of how the people you’re there for would like to be supported and try to embody that. Keep in mind some people need a cheerleader whereas some prefer more discreet support. The more value you can add to that persons experience, the more satisfaction you’ll get from the event.
Completing any race is a reason to celebrate, especially an ultra! So no doubt your friends will be in the mood to loosen up afterwards, even if they can only handle a couple of beers before the fatigue catches up with them. So take the opportunity to join them in indulging and toast to their success.
Hopefully those pointers give you some food for thought and help you make the most of your next DNS.