I run for a living. I train and compete in long-distance mountain races. In many ways, it’s the dream job. The things required by this job are most often the things that I love to do most. I can support myself by running on trails, climbing mountains, traveling the world. It’s the job I have always dreamed of and the job I hope to maintain for a long time to come. And while I am certainly proud of what I have done to get this job, I am infinitely grateful for the people and opportunities that created the path to where I am today. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.

But being a ‘professional’ runner is by no means easy. Though I don’t work a nine-to-five office job, I am still required to do certain things. There are things like photo shoots and event appearances that are usually pretty fun, though they require lots of time and effort. Those sorts of things are usually quite flexible, such that if I can’t make it to one of them, I’ll just plan on going to the next one. Simple.

Basically the one thing that my sponsors ask of me is to do well at races. That’s not an unreasonable thing to ask, since they are paying me to endorse their products with the assumption that I have proven myself in the racing scene well enough to be known on a somewhat large scale. They don’t force me to do certain races, or even require that I do a certain number of races. My sponsors know well enough that I will do best at the events I choose for my own reasons, and they trust that I will represent them well while doing so. On most days, this dynamic is perfect. With very little pressure to do any one thing, I can literally think up the craziest adventures imaginable and put them into practice. That’s why I spent nearly three months racing in Europe last year. That’s why I spent one month climbing in Alaska this spring. The things that inspire me stoke the inner fire that breeds commitment. Success comes from commitment, but commitment doesn’t come free.

The downside to this relationship is that the events that I choose to do have a large amount of pressure on them. This isn’t outside pressure; it is entirely internal. My sponsors support me through thick and thin and I want desperately to make that support worth their while. I want to show my gratitude by making their investment worth it. In my mind, they ask one thing of me: to do well at races. This builds races up in my mind to sometimes a bigger deal than they are. The pressure is one of the many variables that can affect a race’s outcome.

I am writing this from a place called Mori Town, within Tokyo Prefecture in Japan, on October 13. At 1:00 p.m. today, I started the Hasetsune Cup, a 71.5k race in the mountains west of Tokyo. At 5:15, I dropped out. As I sit here in my hotel room trying to process what happened, a lot of things are running through my mind. More intense are the emotions running through my heart. I just don’t know what to do. I feel pretty bad, to be honest.

I feel bad for dropping out. Aside from all the pressure I feel from outside sources (Most of which, to be clear, I place entirely on myself. Nobody forces me to do anything.), I feel bad that I didn’t finish what I started. I value people who push through the low points and get to the finish no matter what. I am inspired by fast runners who, when having a bad day, slow down and finish in the middle of the pack. I hate to think that I may have quit because the going got hard. At the end of the day, I want to be the kind of person who finishes what he starts because the challenge is about more than winning. It’s about experiencing all the different variables that a mountain race can present. I fear that, as I grow older, those values will be usurped by superficial ones like winning and fame. Dropping out of a race throws my mentality into question. I question myself.

I feel bad for letting down my sponsors and my friends and family. Actually, mainly my sponsors. I told my friends and family I was coming back to Japan and they were like, “Oh? For what?” That’s not because they don’t support me. It’s because this is a totally obscure race to Americans and last year when they tried to follow along they found that a) the damn race started at like 10:00 p.m. their time, pretty much precluding any attempt at watching live updates, and b) all the live updates they did receive were in Japanese. And Google Translate sucks, so they couldn’t figure out what was going on anywhere. So I don’t blame them for their halfhearted encouragement.

My sponsors, however, pay me to do one thing well: race. And this race, though less important on an international scale, is actually a huge deal for Montrail. The company does really well in Japan–they’re the best-selling trail shoe in the country–and they are the title sponsor of this race which has almost 3,000 people. So even though you have never heard of the Hasetsune Cup, Montrail has a lot riding on it. That’s why they were willing to fly me out to Japan two years in a row, by no means a small investment. They are willing to devote the resources to increase the chance of success. Last year I won, but today I dropped out. Fifty percent is an F.

What makes me feel even worse than that, however, is letting down all the Japanese runners. Since I won last year, everybody had their hopes riding high on me. Nobody was hiding the fact that I was expected to win and set a new course record. Before the race, I spent over an hour taking photos with people who were genuinely inspired by my race last year; people who want nothing more than to see me do even better this year because watching the fast guys push the limits is exciting to them. Their expectations were without selfishness or agendas. They were borne of goodwill. I wanted to win and set that course record because I wanted to live up to what all these wonderful people believed in. I wanted to pay them back for their idolatry the only way I could, by living up to their hopes. But I dropped. I wasn’t good enough even to finish, let alone set that course record. What kind of an example does that set?

At first, I thought the race was going very well. We started out running very fast, but within a few miles, I was running with about five guys and we were maintaining a totally reasonable pace. Hike the ups, run the downs. My effort level felt well within my limits and I resolved to maintain this pace for a long time and then maybe speed up at the end. Even through the first checkpoint at 22k, I felt strong and fluid, keeping a consistent pace just half a minute back from first place. From there, the course climbed in a zigzag motion up to the high point of the course, Mito-san. I headed up the peak engrossed in my thoughts.

The climb did me in. At some point, I started to get dizzy, and then a little lightheaded. I felt that my eyes were seeing ahead of me but my brain was slow to respond in what I was seeing. I started walking more and ate some Shot Bloks (yes, I’m attempting to regain some goodwill here) to rein my run back in. Soon enough, my back started hurting. Having recently read Seven Years in Tibet, in part of which Heinrich Harrer recounts months of agonizing sciatica, I started worrying about nerve damage in my lower back. But the real reason became clear very soon.

I stopped to pee. And I peed blood. I had heard stories of people peeing blood, and always thought something like, “Damn. Gross. Ouch.” But it had never happened to me before. Now all those stories came back and my lack of empathy seemed appalling. Peeing blood is horrifying. It’s one of those signs where your body is clearing saying, “HEY! WAKE THE HELL UP!” Ultrarunners are wont to ignore body signals, which is likely why we train and race too much. But this was not something I could just ignore. It had to be addressed.

I drank lots of water. Ate some food. I didn’t have any salt, but I hoped that maybe the Bloks had some. I kept jogging along and found that my legs were much too sore for only being 20 miles into a race. Running down the insanely steep descents on the course, I started slowing down because of unusual soreness in my quads.

At this point, a million things went through my head. Dehydration. Renal failure. Erik Skaggs and Diana Finkel. My recent run at UROC. My desire to win Hasetsune again. My reputation (I think) with Roch Horton and Catherine Mataisz that I am tough and can suffer. My last humiliating drop at UTMB. Lying in a hammock with Reese Ruland on a fall day. My dad. I kept moving. Running flats and downs, hiking ups. But the symptoms I was feeling only got worse. I was surprised by how quickly they affected me. In slightly more than an hour, I went from running under course-record pace and feeling good to being a complete train wreck having trouble just seeing straight.

Things really fell apart when I went off course. I saw a sign with an arrow and followed a trail maybe a mile downhill before realizing I was off course. When I turned around I peed blood again, and then simply hiked easy back up to the course. From there, I walked the last five or so kilometers to the one aid station on the course. And dropped. Quit. Gave up. Donezo.

I know I’m young and have plenty of years left ahead of me to do well. That doesn’t change the fact that I wanted to and should have been able to do well at Hasetsune today. One thing I could say is, “Well, peeing blood is pretty black and white. You kind of have to drop, especially in a race where water is very limited. The disappointment of dropping is small beans compared to the nightmare of renal failure.” But I can’t just exonerate myself from this situation. Certainly, yes, the risk of renal failure was too great to continue. But that risk was there because I didn’t prepare properly. More than half of racing is in the preparation, and I made stupid mistakes in my preparation for Hasetsune that culminated in my kidneys being unable to properly function during the race. That is a pretty huge mistake.

This has never happened to me before. I don’t know exactly why this happened. Possibly the dehydration of a steep and hot 45-mile race that provides no water for the first (four-and-a-half-hour) marathon played a part. Likely my desperate, all-out effort at UROC two weeks ago contributed. Maybe I ate poorly. Maybe I didn’t drink enough leading up to the race. Probably a combination of many factors decided the outcome. I simply don’t know at this point. Over the next few weeks, I will try to figure out what happened and how to fix it for the future. Having dropped already, the only thing I can really do now is try to prevent this from ever happening again.

Ultimately, racing is just a game. This isn’t changing the world. But it’s what I do and most of the time I can do it pretty well. We all choose to dedicate our time and effort to activities that we care about, and for better or worse, I have chosen mountain running. It’s something I love and hope to do for my entire life. I am incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity right now to do it on a semi-professional level, and I want to make sure that I honor myself and the people who believe in me by being the best that I can be. When I drop out of a race, the way forward is unclear. Certainly none of my sponsors would drop me for having the occasional bad race, but I have the responsibility to understand what happened and to fix it. This often comes with some hard truths. I need to be brutally honest with what happened. And this is what happened: I grew complacent, I made mistakes, and these mistakes caused me to drop out of a race. The fault lies entirely with me.

That said, this isn’t the end of the world. This is just one race of many more to come. The best learning experiences come from failures, so I’m looking forward to some serious wisdom coming my way in the next few weeks. Lucky for you, I write on this website every two weeks, so stay tuned and I’ll pass said wisdom on as soon as it shows up in a small box under my pillow. Thanks for reading about my failure!

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Almost every trail, ultra, and mountain runner will drop from a race at some point in their career. If you have, how did you emotionally process that difficult experience?

There are 73 comments

  1. JP

    Dude, this essay is heartbreaking, stop beating yourself up, you absolutely totally unequivocally made the right choice.

    Think of it from a race directors perspective – would you want some guy to drop in your race or be a gung-ho dumbass and kill himself in your race?

    You write about responsibility, but as trail runners our first responsibility should be not making ourselves a liability; on many levels what you did is a far better act of ambassadorship for the outdoor lifestyle than winning any race.

    Take care and come back strong x

    1. Fernando N Baeza

      Your the cream of the crop, and exited gracefully when the time warranted. You will be back next year stronger than ever! Keep your head up ;D
      Fernando Baeza
      San Antonio, TX

  2. Bazza

    Sometime our passion for running just simply clouds the rational thought processes in our brains, but there is one thing that we all do is make the right decisions in the end.

    Dude you made the right decision today so you can come back and fight another day in the mountains, a DNF is not just a DNF, you maybe learn more about yourself with a DNF than you do actually winning a race, (I couldn't tell you because I haven't won a race yet :o)).

    I suppose the long and short of it is that we have to listen to our bodies, you listened today and agreed so crack open a cold one and start preparing for your next race. oh get better first though!

  3. James

    "And this is what happened: I grew complacent, I made mistakes, and these mistakes caused me to drop out of a race. The fault lies entirely with me."

    A refreshingly honest account of what happens in a DNF. I agree that peeing blood is a valid reason to drop.

    You are in a position where you are young and you are not willing to blame others and circumstances for when things go wrong. That is a great place to be and will see you bounce back from this with even greater results.

    And your sponsors should be delighted that you are human.

    I posted a DNF report on my blog recently on which I blamed myself for being complacent and lazy. It is very different from yours but within the same theme that 80% of DNF's are our own doing, not others or the earth or God or whatever.


    Thanks for a great read :)

  4. Carlos

    I hope the sponsor thing does not crush you with too much stress, overtraining, and overracing that could diminish your joy of running and/or send you to injury and an early end. Most of us are "cursed" with the inability to race at your level, but I view it as a fortunate thing — running without the extrinsic pressure. I know all pressure is truly self-imposed, but the extrinsic forces create massive additional self-pressure which forces actions that many times are simply not in one's best interest.

    Make sure you're running well — in whatever realm — at 50 Young Money. It will "beat" fleeting success in your 20s and 30s. Plus, we need dudes like you out there…

  5. Dave

    This was a refreshingly frank look at the anatomy of a DNF. Clearly dropping was the right thing for you to do – live to fight another day.

    BTW, I dropped at T-Rad because I was going through a rough patch when a jeep came by. I stuck out my thumb and hitched a ride knowing I'd rather be back at the start/finish area drinking a beer than hiking higher into a snow/hail storm in my shorts and t-shirt. Not exactly a "peeing blood" story of adversity, but the beer was good.

  6. Drew

    Fat, millionaire baseball players with a batting average of .500 are considered great! The burnt hand teaches best, so you know you will be that much better prepared in the future. Happy trails.

  7. Shelby

    This was hard to read, Prez. Any of us who have dropped can understand your disappointment for sure, but you seem to be taking it hard. You say the pressure is internal, but still feel as tho' you let sponsors, family, friends and fans down. I hope that those same people who you feel pressure to perform well for are equally understanding & sympathetic to the reality of these kinds of setbacks from time to time. Performing well in endurance sports where hard efforts are required are not a given, no matter how talented and smart the athlete is. You're not a machine and the harder you run, the more critical it is the keep all the variables (volume, rest, pacing, mechanics, fluid, electrolytes, fuel etc) in balance.

    I wondered if you might have a tough race after such a hard effort at UROC two weeks ago. Even as fit as you are, your body is still recovering from that. Sounds like you've already honed in on a number of possible contributing factors that will help you to avoid this kind of shutdown in the future. I bet Joe will be a good encouragement to you, since he went through something similar a few months ago.

    I'll tell you how I see it: You've learned a ton as a student of the sport for five years. When you don't perform up to your expectations, you analyze it and become a better runner. This was the first opportunity in a year or so to learn something big (after maybe over-racing last year and getting injured). It's simply a step in the journey of reaching your potential as a runner. And for Pete's sake, you're only 22! You're not expected to have it all dialed now; give yourself some grace to keep learning as you encounter problems that you haven't yet experienced. You're still awesome!

    I suspect with the rest you'll get in the upcoming weeks and taking the lessons learned, you will have a great race at TNF50, regardless of where you place on the podium. Just keep learning, stay positive, love what you do, be thankful for legs that work. Run happy!

    (And I still want some of those Hasetsune Bajadas, so you can still sell shoes!)

  8. Brad Z

    Wow! A timely piece. I just dropped from my first race ever this Saturday. I was just not there mentally, and I don't think I ever fully recovered from 2 races in September. But Dakota is right, hopefully through failure will come wisdom and passion to do better next time. A DNF is not the end of the world, it just might be what the DR ordered to get us right for next time!

  9. Dylan

    Although I'm not a sponsored runner with any feelings of obligations to produce results, I am familiar with the experience of peeing blood during running races and it sucks. After my own thorough medical investigation, the conclusion was a popped blood vessel in the bladder, most likely due to dehydration.

    In one race it started happening at mile 20 of a backcountry marathon, and although I was able to finish the race, I was very literally biting my lips as hard as I could without breaking the skin to distract my body from the near constant urge to urinate blood. The blood quickly passed, did not return, and am happy to report that there are no signs of any lasting effects, however that was one of the most powerful bodily forces I have experienced.

    I finished because I am stubborn and the rational part of the brain continued to evaluate the situation relative to the mile markers and bail out points.

    I've always held to the belief that if you put in the proper training, have the proper mindset in place, (and if you are lucky some talent) the most difficult variable of long distance running is whether or not my body will allow me to go the distance. I'm surprised that this issue isn't covered more in the sport's coverage and that it doesn't happen to more racers, but I suppose there is a natural selection which happens early on.

    Keep your chin up! One race does not define you and it won't be the last mistake you ever make. As long as you learn from the mistakes you do make, you will be better off in the long run.

  10. John Burton


    I wouldn't consider it a "DNF" so much as a "withdrew for medical reasons". You clearly made the right choice to not continue and you should not beat yourself up about it at all. End of story.

    Probably you should have titled this blog post "Rhabdo" rather than "Dropping". And yes, while Rhabdo is still a bit of a mystery as to why it happens, it was as you said likely related to trying to race hard again so soon after UROC. But who knows really.

    Not to scare you or deter you, it may take you longer to fully recover than you expect. At least in my case, it took me nearly 3 months to recover from when I got Rhabdo late last August. I was able to run again (and I even completed a 100 miler a month later) but my times were uncharacteristically slow. I hadn't finished outside the top 10 in any race I'd done since 2010, but I ended up 64th at the Bear 100 and 20th at Firetrails 50. You're a much stronger athlete than me so hopefully it won't take you nearly as long to recover. I just wanted to share my experience to lend some perspective about how serious Rhabdo can be. Best of luck to you. Be safe!

    Warm regards,


  11. phil Jeremy

    I DNF'd once, felt a failure, and then meticulously prepared for my next, leaving nothing to chance and did well (not your league obviously). I suspect that's exactly what you will do. You are beating yourself up …. just put the stick down :)

  12. Glenn S

    Dakota, I feel like this is the best piece you have written, or at least the best I have read from you. I appreciate you looking within yourself and sharing it with us, much better than when you are trying to write funny. The last race I started 2 years ago (Leadville 100) I hurt myself at mile 11 and dropped at mile 24 with an ankle the size of a cantaloupe. PT, acupuncture, laser, micro-current, massage, myofascial release, and now 2 recent surgeries later I am hoping to start running again in the spring. All this because I never learned when to stop and kept running on multiple ankle sprains, training immediately after injury, and not listening to my body. Sounds like you did the right thing and will now be healthy to race another day. Don't lose sight of how positive an outcome that is.

  13. rms

    That was my thought also, that this is the best writing he's done. And his exploits are definitely inspiring: Having the SJS50 aidstation volunteer excitedly tell me about his CR midway through my own race, and raised my spirits when I was at a low-point mentally.

  14. Tropical John

    Dakota – sometimes "DNF" means Did Nothing Fatal.

    You most definitely did the right thing. Even if it turns out to be something minor (and blood in your urine often is simply the result of dehydration that causes the urethera walls to rub against each other), this is not something to mess with.

    There's always another day.

  15. MikeC AK

    Dakota, take heed from other recent overtrainers, namely Duncan and Geoff, and listen to your body.

    Once you've understood what it's telling you, share what you found. By sharing, I believe you are enhancing the sport's feeling of a community, which is why I root for you sponsored fellas(and ladies). It's a unique attribute to Ultra running.

  16. thomas

    Hi dakota, you wrote "The best learning experiences come from failures", that reminds me on what kilian said, start a race and win a race is actually really easy, but you don`t learn anything on that, failure makes you stronger and better, you have to thing on what went wrong, what do I have to chance.

    You guy are one of the best ultrarunner of the world, this article shows your attitude, this is awesome. All the best for the future, hope to see you soon battling rob, kilian, tony etc.

    take care thomas

  17. Dave

    To be clear Dakota, I agree that this was a well written 'serious' piece, but I (and I'm sure many other readers) do also appreciate your more whimsical/satirical writing.

  18. Charlie M.

    A minor dent in the armor. A bit of kryptonite. You got caught up in the "I've got to defend my title in Japan" mentality, when you should have been lounging in that hammock after a stout run for the ages in Colorado. Kick some butt at North Face in December. Learn from it and move on. You the man.

  19. Brian

    Taking off from the "call for comments:" The first DNF of my brief ultra career was at a 50M this Summer. My drop decision originated in nausea, heaving, and vomiting, but the greater challenge was emotional — trying to reconcile the reality of the day's performance against the goals I had set: faster time than last year and a better placing. I was fit, healthy, and ran the first 30 miles right on pace to meet my goals. When the nausea hit suddenly and persistently, I ended up feeling like I had been robbed of the expected (entitled!) performance in a race I had been focused on for a year. Emotionally, I didn't handle it well and was a wreck by the time I reached my family at mile 44 and officially dropped. My reaction was undoubtedly influenced by my inability to hold down food of any sort, but, in retrospect, it was also a lack of planning and mental preparation for the possibility of a complete train wreck during the race. Not just falling a bit short or having an off day, but a Total Disaster. That scenario never occurred to me as a possibility and it caught me mentally unprepared as a result: Tears were shed (largely in the solitude of the forest while wretching), but shed nonetheless.

    I hope not to have to test this theory, but preparing myself mentally for that possibility in any race is bound to help me make semi-rational decisions during the race and avoid emotional drama. Maybe dropping and racing another day is the thing to do, which seems to have been the right decision for Dakota here. Maybe it's a "gut it out," Hal Koerner UTMB "get-around-this-mountain" sort of race. But having thought through the disaster scenarios will now be a real part of my race prep.

  20. Alastair

    I'm sure Dakota's sponsors would look at this article, and the responses it generated in the comments section, and have not the slightest concern about their investment, DNF or not!

  21. Paul

    I enjoy your writing.

    If it helps, I peed blood after a 56 mile race in the UK many years ago, it was very frightening. I was about 18 years old at the time. I've run many ultras since, I'm now 37. I have never peed blood since.

    I'm only relaying my story because if you are like I was then, you might be freaking out thinking there is something seriously wrong. In my view, the sight of blood is always dramatic and scary and can promote a knee jerk reaction into thinking something is badly wrong. It is just as likely be something very minor and "one off" instead of a serious technical physiological medical problem.

    I never got checked out, I was too young and daft to do that. I ran a few days later and have carried on running ever since with no ill effects!

    Don't beat yourself up, you had a bad day at the office even it wasn't a typical 9-5 day! Dust yourself down and carry on.

    Good luck…

    1. Jake

      Always better safe than sorry, peeing blood could be nothing it could be everything should never question watching out for number one in these cases. Its happened to me a few times, always initially at drier altitude and running too soon not getting hydrated enough beforehand. Probably doesn't help I take too much salt in my diet, but I always stopped even though I knew it was probably dehydration.

  22. Ricardo

    Hey Dakota – I feel obliged to provide a sponsor’s perspective here.

    First of all, I hope you are recovering well physically from the race and planning to get yourself checked out with a medical doctor to understand what happened. And after you’re done visiting with your doctor you may want visit the local Boulder sports psychiatrist’s office. Or better yet save yourself the time and money and listen to your friends and family who are saying chill-out and don’t be so hard on yourself. Shit happens. You learn from it and move on.

    I can only speak from a Clif Bar perspective, but I am pretty sure that our friends down the road at Montrail feel the same way. We didn’t sign you as a sponsored athlete because you win every race or even because you’re one of the best in the sport. Of course, we want you to do well, and even win races but as our founder Gary always says, the fun of getting there is getting there. We sponsor you because you understand that life is not about the finish line. It’s about enjoying the journey, working hard, staying grounded and, above all, having fun. We’d rather work with an athlete who never wins but shares our philosophy about the journey and who lives for more than the finish line.

    You know where to reach me for a man hug.

    1. Damian Nathaniel

      Bc of Ricardo's response, i will now be trying Clif Bar product, and bc of your post, be rooting even harder for you Dakota. Class acts both of ya. Be well, Damian N

    2. Jim

      So great to hear the sponsor's side of things! That's what I love about some of the ultra trail sponsors, many are concerned with the individual person and not the results. Man hugs for everyone!


    +2 Id suggest going the all natural way, try some beet kvass to help the kidneys, here's a link to how to make it, Drink 4 oz morning and night.


    Also, try some Kombucha, this is also great for the liver, kidneys and overall good health, here is the link for making it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lH-xXDIEtk

    Sticking to all natural organic foods might do the trick, plenty of hydration, sleep and maybe some massage as well.

    Best of Luck on your recovery. Your a great athlete and you will do well. Take care of your health and You will go far and run many more years.

  24. jenn

    It sounds to me like you made the right decision, and while loss of the ideal outcome always sucks, please don't use it as a cudgel on yourself. Rest well!

    This entry did make me think about what I "expect" from sponsored athletes, though, and I realized that, oddly, in this sport I'm not even "needing" to have them race. In other sports, sponsorship is tied in my mind with the expectation of competition. In ultras/trails, the racing well isn't really what I find inspiring, so much as the running itself, especially accompanied with glimpses at some folks having fun in the great out of doors (I wrote "mountains" originally, but it's not limited to that).

    That's not to imply that I don't enjoy cheering folks on at races, or marvel at spectacular performances! I do. Just thinking about how sponsoring companies make money off of me!

  25. Koichi Iwasa

    I am so sorry to hear you dropped due to kidney trouble. We Japanese runners know every runner has bad day. You are always welcome and keep us motivated with your thoughtful run and life. – Koichi

  26. Jessel

    About his running Dokato Jones says, "This isn’t changing the world"…

    I beg to differ and here is why;

    His following statement about his choice to live as a professional runner: "It’s something I love and hope to do for my entire life. I am incredibly fortunate"

    If we had more people feeling like this about the career they have chosen there would be more smiles, less stress, more happiness, less war, more health, and less disease of the physical and mental sort. Taking a look at that list (i know it is just my opinion but i talk to a shit load of people about health and life and KNOW this to be true for myself and 95% of those people) the world would change drastically, for the better, if people started living the life of their dreams.

    Dokato, good work and thank you for the inspiration and making the world a better place.

  27. Mike Morton


    I enjoy reading your posts!

    I have dealt with the DNF blues and all I can tell you is that racing is a small part of being a runner. Your "job" is to be a runner and you are up holding your end of the deal! The racing side is always a gamble with many variables that you don't control, all you can do is show up and do your best.

    Drive on!

  28. jm

    I dropped at Hardrock in 2012. I had thought about that race every day for a year leading up to it, and I have thought about it every day since. After a long slog into grouse gulch I peed blood and was relieved to have a respectable reason to drop. I have learned a lot from it.

  29. Ellie

    Once again, an awesome post Dakota, I hope this is translated into Japanese so more Japanese runners can see how sincere your effort was to do well in their country.

    I can understand in some perspective – I'm a sponsored ultra runner and I've run one ultra this year. That's lame. Do I feel I have let sponsors down? Maybe in some ways, but ultimately no – I didn't get myself injured and out of action on purpose, and nor did you DNF due to lack of effort or intention. You put solid training and prep in as best as you know how and maybe now you analyse you see some mistakes and I know you, you will learn from those. Or maybe, you just had a bad day – we're all human.

    In the meantime, hope you are going to the Clif Athlete Summit in Nov – it's time to hang out with awesome and understanding sponsors like Ricardo @ Clif :)

  30. Masa

    t was tough race, wasn't it ? I also participated in the race, though I am slow runner/ walker. I hope that you will be very strong through this experience. I think that Japanese trail runners including slow walker like me are waiting for your future race with a smile in Japan.

  31. Mine

    I am the one who joined the race. I am not a serious runner but I was very nervous just before the race. However, I was truly encouraged when you speech at the opening ceremony that "Minasan Konnichiwa! Run fast, enjoy the race!". Actually you are the valuable asset to us Japanese. Thank you very much for coming such a far country. I look forward to having a race with you again.

  32. David W

    While there are the obvious issues of kidney/rehabdo/dehydration, have you considered diet right before the race. Could you have eaten something tainted? Seems like a bit of a stretch that you went that far south so quickly just from running…

    Shit happens, hope you feel better!

  33. solarweasel

    Great post, Dakota. But I'll add my voice to the chorus: You did the right thing. Health and longevity trumps any one event. Always. Your sponsors are glad you didn't do yourself more harm. I am too. You'll be back in no time. Let your body heal.



  34. Brian

    This is the most impacting piece of writing I've read by Dakota. The humble tone and visceral recap has an appeal not always found in some of his cheekier posts. Thanks for sharing and letting us peek into the unknown burdens of success. When it comes down to it, racing doesn't matter – people do.

  35. Roger J

    Dakota, thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns. You made a wise decision that will allow you to race another day. Comments here demonstrate that you are a positive force in the ultrarunning community. Your passion for life brings me joy. I appreciate your sincerity, candor, and, in other posts and interviews, your whimsy. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  36. Mic

    "We don't want races so safe that there is no element of risk."

    – Spoken by a Multi-sport racer

    Thanks for sharing this story … going lite can be good and bad.

  37. Candice

    2 weeks is not enough time to recover and expect to run well. After a good race it's tempting to use that high to keep racing, but it hurts you mentally and physically when you do that (as I know too well). Rest up.

  38. HJA

    There's a tremendous difference between being a habitual, quantity-over-quality dropper and dropping under the circumstances you've described. I've been around the habituals, and absolutely cannot stand them. They're essentially mediocre athletes, by any objective definition, who think that simply starting a bunch of races, and finishing some fraction of 'em, is some kind of license to go around gloating in the identity of an "ultra" runner. You couldn't be farther from that.

  39. Michael

    Thanks for sharing…very interesting to hear the pressures from a pro's POV. You did the right thing. We are in sport for challenge, and achievement, but the underlying reason is health. It wasn't your day. Stay healthy!

  40. Jeff

    You made the right decision. About a decade ago I ran Hasetsune as a kind of goodbye to Japan after having lived there for a couple of years (figured it would be my one and only ultra) and because of the lack of aid I would say it's one of those places you need to be 100% responsible for your own safety. Don't beat yourself up too much — almost everyone has a couple of drops on their resume . . . There are times when you have just got to suck it up and finish no matter how slow (teaches patience, respect for the course, and how to suffer in a quieter way) but there are other times when you have to simply admit TEMPORARY defeat. And pissing blood is a pretty good sign that racing and finishing are no longer important . . . of course these thoughts come from a back of the pack runner with a pretty good head for rationalizing away both slowness and a couple of DNFs . . .

  41. Evan

    Don't beat yourself up too much over it! Sponsors understand that you can't win them all, and you were still a great spokesperson regardless of your performance by showing up, smiling, interviewing, and starting that race. Huge for publicity, and serving as a positive face for the companies. Never fun to drop, but shit happens, eh? Racing hard 2 weeks after a really hard race effort was probably a bit much- if you look at elite marathoners, they're not doing "goal" races with less than a month between them. Need time to recover!

  42. Mike

    I'm usually pretty skeptical of reasons given for a dnf, but not in the case of someone peeing blood. Same goes for seizures and compound fractures. Great insight into the mind of a top runner…as a slug, I just worry about my wife laughing at me if I dnf.

  43. GMack

    Kilian apparently blew out his left knee at UROC, ("The Asphalt is annoying … and dangerous!"), but went down to Reunion Island anyway to run the Diagonale des Fous. He cruised it in over 30 hours to a 22nd place finish. Not sure if he was peeing blood ;-)

    The Diagonale des Fous is one of the biggest events in ultrarunning, but hardly anyone in the US knows about it. Not even a mention on IRF, though the race, in its 22nd year, is at least as big a deal as UTMB. I ran it and was the only American.


    1. Bryon Powell

      Hey GMack,
      Congrats on completing an incredible summer with UTMF, Hardrock, UTMB, and GRR. We were certainly following along with what was happening at Diagonale de Fous (and tweeted about the winners). You've been following iRunFar long enough to know that we only report on events when we can add insight/information. As we weren't on Reunion (would love to attend the race sometime) nor did we have on-the-ground sources there, we forewent writing a story simply to make noise. :-)

      Rest up,

      1. GMack

        Thanks. My fault for not checking Tweets while over here on the other side of the world. Diagonale des Fous is a real spectacle and I hope you and your crew can make it over some time in the future.

  44. Josh

    Dropping was the only thing to do given the situation. Peeing blood isn't a cool bar story. Renal failure is not something that provides you with extra "hardcore runner" points. Take a good look at what you did beforehand that brought the condition on and maybe schedule a visit with a nephrologist for their medical opinion. I lost a kidney to cancer in 2010 and have to be super careful with the only one I've got left. My kidney doc has made certain recommendations for good kidney health in the light of my running and this advice is really helpful. One thing she did not say was stop running ultras. Don't beat yourself up. Chalk it up as a learning experience and be glad there was an aid station to drop at before something worse happened.

  45. CT

    Nothing to be ashamed of! You're a world class runner and a quality person…from what I hear! I'm sure that your sponsors are proud of you overall but also pleased that you showed common sense so that you can 'live to fight another day'! Good luck man…many of us follow your results with interest!

  46. Byron


    We're super proud of you and glad you don't push yourself to injury on our accord. Your voice in the community, passion and vision are what inspire us. We're glad to work with you!


  47. Erik

    Hi GMAck,

    Congrats ! Over here in Europe most trailers are aware of Diagonale des Fous reputation ! After a very positive experience at UTMB this summer, I wonder how this would compare to Diagonale des Fous. I've met people who say DDF is much harder, so welcome your- or other runners who finished both races view ?



    1. GMack

      Hi Erik,

      Diagonale des Fous was harder than both UTMB and Hardrock, even with the perfect conditions (dry) we had this year. The total climb is about the same as the other two races, but it's the extreme technicality of DdF that makes it harder.

      D'Haene's winning time of 22:58 is truly amazing, especially considering that only 14 runners out of the 1,361 who finished were under 30 hours.

  48. Nick J

    Things get pretty serious when you start blood pissing. Serious respect to you DJ, you dropped the SECOND time you peed blood. I'd have passed flat out on the first

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