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Learning from a DNF - Quang Trần

Many runners, no matter how experienced, will probably DNF (Did Not Finish) at some point. However, lessons can be learned from such experiences. Here, multiple trail champion, Quang Tran, shares his learning from his DNFs and one disqualification.  

I am someone who does not beat myself up for choosing to DNF. I have DNFd a couple of times over my running career, including by choice. 

My first DNF was at the Da Lat Ultra Trail 2019. I went off course for too long and decided to DNF while still leading the race.  

I can only blame myself for missing out on the championship opportunity because of this incident. Since then, I’ve become more prepared and downloaded the course to my watch to ensure I am on the right route all the time, or if I get lost, I can quickly get back on track. 

Learning from Disqualification

The second time I did not finish a race, I was in fact disqualified. This taught me a valuable lesson that I would like to pass on to you. My disqualification happened at the Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji 160km 2019 in Japan.  

I was reckless and didn’t bring all the mandatory gear required by the event organizer (i.e. waterproof trousers) since I thought they were unnecessary and would just add weight to my running vest. As a result, I was stopped at 120km by the crew.  

About 2 hours later, the weather on Mount Fuji suddenly turned cold and snowed heavily. The organizer had to stop the race due to the extreme weather. I considered myself lucky, as continuing the race without proper preparation in such harsh conditions could have led to many risks or dangers. 

The obvious lesson learnt was that runners should always bring all necessary equipment specified by the event organizer. They know the course and the weather better than anyone. 

Quang tran VMM 2017 first winning

Choosing to DNF in Thailand

My third DNF was at Doi Inthanon by UTMB in December 2022. I chose to DNF when I was in the top 10, a position I believed required a lot of effort to achieve. Unfortunately, my body wasn’t in good condition that day. I struggled with full-body cramps from the first few kilometers. As I passed the 100km mark, I decided to stop, knowing that continuing might lead to danger or injury. I chose to prioritize my safety.  

Through sharing my experiences, I hope to help individuals foresee potential issues and be better prepared. Also, keep in mind that a DNF experience is part of the learning process and preparation for a stronger comeback.  

Quang Tran on his way to champion

Quang’s Coaching with Kilomet

Quang is currently working on a project called “Kilomet“. This project aims to support aspiring runners in developing and advancing their running through training and assistance, therefore enhancing Vietnam’s performance in international races.