Devotion: Running with Paul & The Time I Got DQ’d

I forgot about this adventure recap, until I was reflecting on Paul’s words as a runner:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

2 Corinthians 9:24-27

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

2 Timothy 4:7

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?

Galatians 5:7

On a whim, I signed up for the Cane Creek Half-marathon. As I arrived, I noticed a group of runners in matching singlets and I decided fool-heartedly that this was the pack I belonged with. So out we went on this half marathon course as I dug deep to stay with the lead group. On the 4th mile, I knew I had made a mistake by trying to stay with the leaders, and I cut the rip cord and dropped back. Nearing mile 9, I came across the folks who had signed up for the shorter 10k race.

As I bobbed and weaved among this folks, I felt the presence of another runner coming up behind me. Wanting to maintain my 5th overall place, I picked up the pace and danced by the 10kers. Suddenly the trail opened up and I saw the finish line. With this other runner close on my heels I sprinted to the finish as the race director and spectators all cheered us in.

As I crossed the finish line, I looked at my watch and noticed that I had set not only my personal record for a half-marathon but also the course record. Then I began to look around the finish area for the four runners who were in front of me – and they were nowhere to be found. So I looked closer at my watch and it had said I had only run 10 miles. I had missed a turn.

While the race directors were kind enough to offer me a medal, I knew I had not earned it.

So I snuck out of the finish area and went searching for where I missed the turn. As I looped around in the woods looking for some trail marker signs, I came across another runner who appeared lost. Turned out, she too had missed the crucial turn. So we joined forces and back-tracked to the missed turn.

It was right there that I saw what I had not seen. A giant sign with arrows for the 10k going left and the arrow for the half marathoners going right. I had been so concerned with the guy catching up with me, and dodging all of the other runners that I simply followed the crowd and failed to follow the right way.

I ended up running 16 miles that day and dropped from 5th to DNF.

I learned a variety of lessons the day I DQ’d:

  1. Run your race
  2. In your zeal, be careful that you do not lead another astray
  3. Your place does not matter if you do not stay on course
  4. Help the lost, because you too are lost
  5. Look for what led you astray to learn from your mistake
  6. Finish what you started (not only did I go back to complete the course, I returned the next year)

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