By following the live-scoring of the individual Championships of Backyard Running (aka. Big Dog´s Backyard Ultra) which may or may bot approximately half-way of what everyone think could be the limit – there is an interesting terminology to be found on that tracking page.
In normal ultra races there are usually three things which can happen apart from finishing:
DNS: Did Not Start/Show aka “something went wrong and that’s why I couldn’t come”
DSQ: Disqualified aka “oops”
DNF: Did Not Finish aka “‘something‘ happened along the way which, unfortunately, made me diverge from the initial plan of finishing. You know. Well. Fuck.”
The Backyard family added three more detailed sub-levels to DNF – among them one really great one. Those three sub-levels are:
OVER: Backyard-specific expression of finishing (a loop) but over the given time limit of one hour per loop.
DNC: Did Not Complete loop. Well – it says quite clearly what it is. But in an honoring way. Its not a simple DNF – it values somehow the runner who had the guts to start the (most of the time) hopeless try to complete another loop. To go out another time. To fight the overwhelming task.
And then there is:
RTC: Refuse To Continue. And I mean: wow. Its not a simple DNF – its an RTC. A REFUSE to continue. Its a different and way more intense expression of a delicate situation. We all know runners (incl. ourselves) and their (our) various reasons and explanations of why they (we) did not finish a certain run/race. But the deeper story behind most of those “stories” is nicely summarized by the expression: RTC. Because at the end – whomever/whatever we are blaming for our failure – the reason of discontinuing is mostly to be found within ourselves. The strong inner voice, the strong outside discomforts, the whatever – it is our decision and its an active one. We actively refuse to go further because in front of us lays the uncertain beyond, even more misery or whatever makes us pull the easy option. The way out. The instant relief.
And by that I don’t mean to underestimate any effort taken nor want to criticise any RTC. It never comes easy and may be the better/safer/more reasonable/healthier option in many cases.
But still. Did Not Finish is a fact. REFUSE TO CONTINUE requires an active decision. A decision which could have been a different one. It feels like it leaves the door to continue a tiny bit open. Some would say both expressions are the same and technically that’s true. On the other hand – its a completely different view on the things – a view only those can understand who really dealt with certain circumstances…
Next time casualties arise I will try to remember – try to make myself clear that its me, and only me, who is making an active decision to not continue. It will certainly make the decision more difficult and by that hopefully pushing me beyond that point.