Missing the cut-off time

I may be a slow runner but I’ve always officially finished my races, until last weekend, when I did not make the cut-off time of a half-marathon.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I realized that I wouldn’t make it in time, the thought of stopping very briefly crossed my mind. Why bother to finish if I can’t be officially declared a finisher? The race is so close to home – if I turned here, I could just go home instead of carrying on. But I very quickly stamped out those tempting thoughts. I couldn’t convince myself to just give up, especially not after being drenched in the pouring rain (it was raining heavily) and training for weeks. Why not try to finish if there’s only a few kilometers left? Plus, if I give up, how do I tell everyone that I quit? So, I persevered.

Mind you, the race was held on a local running path, and was not a road race. If I carried on, I would not be blocking any road traffic or putting myself in danger of being run over by a truck.

Of course I did not expect the organizers to continue manning the route or to wait for me to finish. I did not mind being considered a non-finisher if I failed to meet the required finishing time. I just wanted to complete what I started.

But a couple of guys manning the route did wait for me. I did not know this until after I came out of an emergency toilet call at around kilometer 19 (my stomach became distressed after kilometer 17 and much as I tried I just couldn’t hold the “runs”) and these lovely guys on bikes were waiting for me to make sure I was alright. Although I told them to go ahead given that it was raining, that I knew I would not make it and that I just wanted to finish the last two kilometers, they insisted on escorting me back. They said that they were heading my way anyway. Both were runners and couldn’t leave a struggling runner behind. I found it embarrassing but I was genuinely glad that they were there with me. They cheered me on and congratulated me when I finally crossed the finish line. I was so glad the rain covered my tears.

Thank you to the organizers and the staff whose kindness made my disastrous race memorable.

* * *

Post-run: “What happened to you?” This was the first thing my husband asked when he finally saw me. Yeah, what did happen? Coming next: a review of my dreadful performance.


7 thoughts on “Missing the cut-off time

  1. runningwithoutsugar Post author

    Colleen and Stephen, thanks. The advantage of announcing what you plan to do, to people who will hold you liable to your word and kick your butt if you lie to them (including you guys), is that they will hold you accountable if you quit. I’d hate to disappoint them.

  2. Phil Ruggiero


    You finished! Isn’t that the point when you start something: not to give up? You did it. Does not matter if anyone is there to see you, or not. You know. You are the embodiment of “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” and keep going.

    Again – Congratulations!

  3. Pingback: Postmortem of a half-marathon race | Running Without Sugar

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