The best way to react to race disasters


You’re well into a 100-miler, dirty and tired, when one of these race-ending disasters happens.

(And you don’t have crew or pacers to fix it for you.)

  1. You forgot your water bottle at the last aid station on a hot day. It’s a loop course but you have almost 20 miles and several hours on a remote course to get back to that aid station. It’s too hot to run a whole loop without one

  1. Your shoe falls apart - literally. The black bottom tread separates from the white midsole, and the midsole separates from the upper on one side. You can stick your toes out. It’s not going to stay together much longer and you can’t finish the race that way.

  1. You’re a mile or so out of an aid station at UTMB, starting a long climb on a burning hot afternoon when you notice growing pressure against your back. You take off your pack to investigate and find your bladder is pressurized and about to burst. The person who filled your bladder used sparkling water instead of still. You can’t afford to lose the water or the bladder.

How do you react?

“Great, I'm screwed. There's no way I can finish now,” or…

“How am I going to get to the finish line?”

I highly recommend the second one. It brings your optimistic, creative solution-thinking to bear on the task. 

Easy, right?

It can be - you have the creativity you need. We all do. But when you’re tired, frustrated, and something like this happens, you’re not likely to summon the muses - you react.

And for problem-solving to be your default reaction, you need to get that muscle in shape now Get used to thinking up solutions to everyday problems now so when problems appear, solving them is second nature.

Like this: 

1. There’s nothing you can borrow, so you find one of those flimsy, ubiquitous, clear plastic water bottles in the aid station trash, clean it as best you can, fill it, and stick it in your pack so you can use it until you find a better option or get back to your bottle again.

2. You ask around the busy aid station and finally discover some nice person has your shoe brand in your size...but at an aid station 20 miles ahead. You duct tape your shoe together enough to make it to that aid station, then borrow the shoes for the remainder of the race.

3. As you climb, you put the bite valve in your mouth to bleed off pressure while drinking any water that comes out with it, so the bladder doesn’t explode and you don’t lose precious water. You’ll drink extra at the next aid station.

You never know exactly what will happen in a race, but you can count on problems.

So decide now which it’s going to be...

Give in, give up, or give yourself solutions. 

Susan Donnelly’s signature

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