The Three Letters Every Runner Fears
Name Timberline Marathon
Location Mt. Hood, OR, USA
Finish Time DNF
Mount Hood was the mountain I saw everyday when I got out the door in my six months in Portland. And it surely is a great mountain too look at. So what better way to end my stay in this fantastic city than to run the Timberline Marathon, a point-to-point course that starts at Timberline Lodge and is mostly downhill.
Arriving at Timberline Lodge by bus, having parked the car near the finish, I notice that is is rather warm, which, at 7 in the morning and 6000 ft. is a good thing. The race, which is rather small, starts in a very informal a-couple-of-persons-at-a-time manner.
Suddenly, at km 12 or so, I feel a sting in my right ankle. Instinctively I stop, lift my leg, and swish whatever it was on my ankle away. Alarmed I see that there are about 10 small wasps (I later find out they are called 'yellow jackets') on my ankle. Within seconds, I have 5 or 6 more stings. Panic hits me, I run full out for a couple of hundred meters before stopping. The yellow-jackets are gone, but my ankle is already beginning to swell. I do have an allergy to insect bites, but the severity differs widely by insect, and I had never encountered this one, so I was very unsure what to expect.
I guess it is only a question of statistics, but nevertheless, before it happens, every runner fears the three letters. DNF. Did Not Finish. Although it bugs me no end not to finish this race, I am also relieved. For one, that the swelling is already back a bit and nothing serious happened. And for two, that I got my DNF (at least my first one) for something that really was out of my control, and not for simply giving up.