On Wednesday evening I ran my second half marathon of the year through the streets of Lisburn, joining 6500 other runners for the annual event. I was quite nervous before the start for a variety of reasons. It was the first race I had taken part in since my recent foot injury so I was apprehensive as to how that would hold up. 

Secondly it was probably the hottest evening of the year. Now when I say hot, I mean by Northern Irish standards where we regularly have four seasons in one day and summer usually consists of a sunny Tuesday afternoon in June. So when I say the thermometer was hitting 25C (77F) at the start many of you may turn up your noses in disdain.

But to your average Northern Irish male this equates to Death Valley-esque conditions. So as I set off into the arid desert that is Lisburn and surrounding countryside I kept repeating the same word over and over in my head – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Now as all you ladies know us men struggle to carry out two tasks simultaneously. And running and drinking water is no exception. First there is the approach to the water station where you have to slow down and time your approach in order to reach out and take the polystyrene cup from the volunteer while, at the same time, avoiding other thirsty runners and gangs of kids wanting to high five you.

Next is the mechanics of getting the cup to your lips. I was taught the old runner’s trick of pinching the cup into a funnel which certainly works. But I still manage on a regular basis to miss my mouth, choke on the drink or stumble over discarded cups on the road as I exit the water station. 

It’s a veritable nightmare. Sometimes I just run past them without slowing down. But at Lisburn I made a point of taking on fluid at every available opportunity. No matter how awkward I looked in the process. The heat and humidity just seemed to increase with every passing mile. There was no breeze whatsoever and the cloud cover overhead just added to the draining conditions.

I finished in a decent time but upon crossing the line had to immediately sit down to avoid keeling over. My t shirt was soaking wet and for the next 48 hours I could not drink enough. I had completed the course but was seriously dehydrated. Had I not drank at every water station I’m pretty certain that the dreaded letters ‘DNF’ (Did Not Finish) would have been against my name in the official records.

As Christians we need to constantly refuel as well. The race we run is long and arduous. We will face many obstacles and challenges along the way. But we have the best possible coach in Jesus who, via the Holy Spirit, is with us every step of the way; and who provides all the encouragement and replenishment we need.

Dehydration leads to pain, lack of focus, illness and ultimately death. You can easily collapse by the wayside or stumble down the wrong path. I have many times. Without prayer, study, worship and fellowship you will fail to finish the race. Run the race. Run it fast and strong. But also run it wisely. Don’t neglect rehydrating with living water at every opportunity.

Don’t be a DNF….

John 4:13-14 – ‘Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’

What is your favourite drink?

Have you ever been badly hydrated?

How do you spiritually refuel?

12 thoughts on “D.N.F.

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  1. Great job! I ran marathon once, so am looking to a half one someday. Almost a mental challenge to keep going, rather than a physical one, no?


  2. Congratulations on finishing, Stephen, and for the analogy. My favorite drink is Vernor’s ginger ale, which has 2x the ginger of regular ginger ale. I need to drink more H2O to a avoid kidney stones. Yup, I get into God’s Word and talk to Him every day.


  3. Congratulations on finishing your half marathon it was always a goal of mine to do a half and a whole but I was recently told by my doctor that my hips were not built for running which is why I am laid up with a basically reconstructed hip. So I will have to except this obstacle that God has placed in my way to reach that goal and find another goal as for my favorite drink I really prefer orange soda diet of course and it’s hers how I refuel spiritually is usually through worship music


  4. Congratulations on your marathon, and congratulations on finishing the marathon!! LOL 🙂 My favourite drink is water, I know, I know boring but it’s seems to be all I drink now, so, I guess it’s my favourite. Yes, dehydrated 2 days ago, pure stupidity on my part, and I spiritually refuel by talking to God non-stop all day and reading my Bible 🙂


  5. Loved This! I totally get what you mean about the Irish weather 😉 I was celebrating non-stop when we got to 25 over here in Clare! 🙂 Great Job! I’m Going to follow you on your journey! ❤ Keep Running the Race 😉


  6. We often hear analogies of our spiritual lives to marathons but I love the way you brought out the hydration factor! And even though it may seem counterproductive, sometimes we must actually stop to rehydrate in order to finish.


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