Photo by John Domingo

Hardcore Ultramarathon Tales: So what does it take to DNF?

For photos and results of 2014 Hardcore Hundred Miles Ultramarathon-Cebu, we compiled here >>.

What does it take to have this “DNF HAPPENS” shirt?

(Below photo from Etch ID, one of the sponsors. For sports ID needs, click here >>.)

We always hear tales of champions and the successes, but we seldom hear the side of those who had to give up in a race. So we compiled some of the runners’ stories…

“We learn little from victory. We learn much from defeat.” – Japanese Proverb

(This is one the quotes Haide Acuna would usually mention in her talks.)

… and maybe we can learn a thing or two!

Daks Dejoras

Photo by John Domingo

I DID NOT FINISH the H1 race last January 31. In short, I DNF’d.

This is my first DNF since I started running races. Looking back at my previous races, I consider my running time to be above average, even consistently beating my previous personal records everytime. So, why DNF? I will find out as I recall:


Weeks before the race, I followed the same training regimen in all my races. I find no problem with it.


For 4 consecutive nights prior to the race, I didn’t get enough sleep. I was busy with something not race related. During that time though, I didn’t consider it a problem. Little did I know that it was a great factor for ruining my race.


We started our drive to Bogo after lunch of January 31. We arrived in Bogo just in time to attend the race briefing. After the briefing, we went to look for a hotel and tried to sleep. I find it very hard to sleep. At around 10:30pm, we went back to the sports complex where the race will start and waited for guntime at 12 midnight.

The race started at 12 midnight on the dot. I had a strong start, with only one runner ahead of me. At around KM13, I started to feel tired. This is when I started running and walking alternately. This was not normal for me, I can usually run non-stop for the first 50kms of in my previous ultras.

Then I started to feel pain in my lower legs. This too was not normal for me. This kind of pain will usually surface at around 85-100km, not on KM 13. It’s just too early.

Still, I went on. At KM23, one runner overtook me, then at KM 33, 3 runners overtook me again.

Tsk tsk, I tried changing shoes, but the pain was still there even while standing still. This is not good. Later, I realized that the pain I felt was caused by my poor running form, which was caused by being tired. It had a domino effect.

At KM33, it is still a loooong 130kms ahead of me. I just couldn’t bear the pain that long. Either I stop now, or regret later after running a few more miles and still end up DNFing. Right then and there, I called Con Mendoza (wife of Jonel) and informed her. That was it.

In the morning, I went back to the sports complex to claim my DNF shirt (Yes, I’m serious!). Jonel Mendoza was giving away DNF shirts for those who did not finish, and it was the first race ever to give it. With head bowed down, I received my DNF shirt with my two hands. I am the first ever recipient of it. It says “DNF HAPPENS”.

Yes, DNF happens. I’m not proud of it, but I learned my lesson after that humbling experience. If you ask me now how to prepare for an ultra? I’d say TRAINING and a GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP prior to the race. Both should come hand in hand. Weeks of training can make or break your race, but all the hardwork will just go down the drain without a good night’s sleep. Take it from me.

To everyone who participated in the H1 100miles and 50miles, I’m proud of you. And congratulations to all the finishers, I salute you.

Now that I knew DNF, it’s not enough to stop me from running more races. I hope this experience will make me a wiser runner in the future. Keep running!

Menchu Dagode

Just like Daks, Menchu is not new to ultramarathon running and it was also her first time to DNF.

She said that she could take the rain and pain, but the main factors that made her gave up were the very muddy situation, and it got worse when she almost got electrocuted when an electric wire she passed by sparked.

She took it as a sign to not go on with the race for her and and her crews safety. So she called it a day at KM 59.

Dins Domingo (left) and Menchu Dagode (right)
(Photo by John Domingo)

Dins Domingo

Dins is a symbol of “calmness” before, during, and after storm. Whatever the distance, you would never see any streak of panic or anxiousness in her face. But unfortunately, Typhoon Basyang was too strong to be calmed by her charms.

Below is the account of John Domingo, Din’s husband, photographer, and loving support crew. For Hardcore Ultramarathon – Cebu race photos, check John’s album here >>.

As Dins was approaching the 2nd cut-off at Km112, Borbon Municipal, it started raining but the wind was still calm. She made it before the cut-off time. We rested for about an hour, had dinner, change of shoes & dry shirts for her. But before she could continue on for the last 48 KM, the wind gained speed & it was really raining hard already. She wanted to go on but had second thoughts because of the weather.

Yet she still moved on, and gave it a try. She was accompanied by our son & William (Doc Lope’s friend) until they decided to stop for fear that flying debris would fall and hit them.

So I texted Jonel C. Mendoza to let him know that were stopping at KM 121 to take shelter there, hoping that the weather would let up soon. But after almost an hour of waiting, the winds got stronger. I was already concern for everyone’s safety so we decided not to finish the race & head back for Bogo.

We drove back to Bogo. On our way back, we checked on our friends & our teammates Cilu Joel LoneRunner Ouano & Doc Lope who are still on the road. We saw all of them still on the road, braving the signal #2 weather & determined to finish the race. We did what we could by offering food, water, etc, and wished them to be safe.

Noel Tillor

Everyone’s bet for the Hardcore Ultra, and is still our bet, also had to give up, which showed that DNF can happen to any one.

With the time he lost from being “lost” for 18KM, the heavy rains, which was actually Typhoon Basyang, caught up with him. Having a very fit marathoner body with almost 0% percent body fat, he did not much have protection from the very cold weather resulting to hypothermia. He said that his body had a hard time recovering from the coldness thus he had not much choice but to give up with just 30KM to the finish line.

(Noel sandwiched by ARC buddies, Jidan and Jezerel, to keep him warm at KM73. Jidan is holding the FrontRunner magazine featuring him. You can get a copy at ARC – Cebu, Raintree Mall.)

Photo by Kristian Garciano

So what does it take to DNF? The bravery to start, and the fearlessness to face failure.

ROCK ON!!! =)


Featured photo by John Domingo.

Posted by:


Rose Buenconsejo. A runner who runs after runners, and their stories, and her dream to become a NEDBANK.
Promo Girl,
View her aktib race calendar >>


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