Worst race performances

Just thought people could share what their worst race performance is.

I am purely a triathalete when it comes to cycling so no bike races and no serious issues with tris on the bike bar a mechanical during my ironman.

My two worst performances come in running races.
York marathon my one and only stand alone going for a 3.50 chugging along for the first half marathon bang on time and then I just started throwing up, couldn’t understand it. Came in at 4.33 and my mum asked if I had fell over because there was some blood on my arm. Turns out something bit me as I went round, by that afternoon I had a proper infection with track marks going up my arm and I was in hospital getting an IV of antibiotics.

My other came in the Manchester half marathon where I was going for a 1.40 again first 4 miles bang on and then I just fell apart, no explanation other than fatigue I can think of even today, I contemplated waiting for the sweeper bus and I walked for the only time in any half marathon.

So come on everyone lets share our mistakes.


To date I would say that my worst one was getting dropped on the first lap, lapped after 6 laps (20 minutes into the race) and then excluded by the ref from my first Criterium back in early 2019. I wasn’t the first one to get lapped and then excluded, but still, felt pretty darn shit not being able to even finish the race :joy:


Last road race of the season this year. Went into it on great form, having just done a 20 min power PB in a hill climb the week before. There was no neutralized zone to speak of - the lead car took off at 50km/h and it was like the start of a Zwift race! Usually no problem for me, but I was struggling to hold the wheels of the leaders and very soon (less that 3km) started going backwards. HR through the roof, legs empty. Got dropped, which hasn’t happened for years. Did two laps in a grupetto and abandoned as there was literally no point. Within 10 mins of stopping, I started coughing ++, and started feeling feverish. Turns out I had the start of a chest infection. Looking back I should have paid attention to the warning signs in the week leading up to the race - resting HR creeping up, increasing fatigue despite decreasing load.

Annoying thing was that within 10 days I was back to peak form again. That’s racing!!


Worst performance was a Crit where the finish line was uphill and a bunch of elm trees next to it.
Went clear for the prime on the first lap breathing very hard and spoiler : Got an asthma attack from the pollen of the elm trees and got dropped about 2 minutes later. But at least I won the prime :joy:


My worst was also my first — get it out of the way! Was a ~100km road race. I got a puncture literally right off the start line. Managed to get back onto the group…for a bit. Got dropped maybe 1/3 of the way through. Got another puncture but this time no support vehicles were around to assist. Rode a loooong time on a flat tire until a police car rolled up beside me and asked if I was ok. Eventually support came & I got a new wheel. Finished the race an hour down on the winner. Good thing I was too young & dumb to be demoralised! :rofl:


Not my story, but related to me before the end of the last century. The narrator was one of the original fathers of Ironman. The event being discussed occurred before the introduction of time cutoffs. The story (paraphrasing):

You know you’re having a bad day when the results of the race you’re still in is in the newspapers you’re watching being delivered as you approach the finish line.


Ironman St George 2011.

Finished the swim, very slowly but I just learned 2 years prior. After that, I ate 4 Clif Bars immediately and went on the bike; that was the last time I ate. Couldn’t hold down water, couldn’t eat, just kept puking. I made it to the run and walked. 8 miles in I just sat inside a porta potty and cried for about 30 minutes.

I couldn’t finish and was picked up. The volunteer lady in the golf cart said, ‘He doesn’t want to finish’, that made me mad but I was borderline about to pass out. Went to the med tent and a volunteer told me, ‘were full, sorry’. Being super dejected I didn’t want to argue, and people congratulating me on finishing just made me cry even more. I really didn’t know what to do, I was hallucinogenic and didn’t even know what was going on at some points.

Eventually, I ended up in a park by myself and just went to sleep on a bench. About an hour in someone let me borrow their phone and I called my wife to pick me up.

That night, I had to go to the ER at StG for chest pains, and those pains continued for next few years. No one ever truly diagnosed it but I never had a heart attack. Best guess was a chest wall tear.

Ultimately, I went into that undertrained, unprepared, and naive. An achilles tear the year prior didn’t help, but being out of shape (at least for an IM) and having GI issues was a bad mix. Had I went in better trained, that probably wouldn’t have happened.


Aside from crashes (actually, I’ve had some good showings in crits with minor crashes, having a free lap is nice although not worth the crashing bit, obviously) my worst race experience is probably the portland marathon.

I was hoping for a 3:05, realistically could’ve probably done 3:10-15. Ran the first mile wayyyy too fast - I think I ran 5:55 after seeing the banner in the distance, looking at my watch, freaking out and slowing down. Blew up pretty badly around mile 18 or so (St John’s bridge) and ran/walked in for 3:45 (and very cold). If there had been a mechanism to abandon at mile 20 I would’ve taken it in a heartbeat.

Okay this goes back to my first race also. It was a shorter road race on a department store bike. I crashed twice and just came to the finish as the sag wagon was rolling up behind with my buddy yelling at me to “beat the sag wagon, beat the sag wagon!!!” So I finished dead last I think 122nd spot!

My redemption was I won that race the following year!


My most disappointing races have been at VoS, which I ‘attempted’ three different times, all targeting the GC

Year 1 - flat tire in the TT, given same time as last finisher so completely out of the GC. Flatted in the road race, got a spare, chased back on for 20 minutes, finished mid pack in the front group. Barely bothered with the crit and pack finished

Year 2 - 5th place in the TT. Someone dropped a bottle in the feed on the road race which took me out. Heavy crash led to a DNF and trip to urgent care

Year 3 - Collapsed lung in the TT, finished just outside the top 15 (didn’t know it was a collapsed lung, just some severe chest pain and side stitches, which I’d never had on the bike before). Started the road race but decided to pull the plug after around 75 miles as I had no top end and the same symptoms were coming back. Ended up in the ER a few days later after going to urgent care and them freaking out when they saw my chest x-ray results

Not headed back there this year, although at some point I need to redeem myself on that race

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Is it bad that I’m chuckling reading this? :grimacing: It’s in empathy honest! (See below) :innocent:. It’s amazing how bad we feel when a race goes wrong. The going to ER shut me up.

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I finished a crit DFL. I should’ve been pulled but I wasn’t. By the time I got to the line the next category was lining up. The announcer got on the mic and said “We have 1 more person crossing the line. No one said you could line up. Let him through!” Everyone’s eyes were on me.

Also there was the time when I was lapped 2x but refused to quit. Again, I should’ve been pulled but the race marshal saw that I made sure to stay way out of the way of the peloton and would not jump back on to the group when they went through. DFL again . . . but about 1/4 of the starting group DNF so whatever . . . I finished.


My worst race ever was my first stage race (day day). We didn’t pack meals and just ate road food. I had the worst performance of my life getting dropped in a short crit where I was usually a contender in any crit. I think it was the McDonalds meal that did me in. :slight_smile:

Im also a triathlete, consequently much most disappointing result must be my DNF at the Hever Castle half distance ironman (middle distance triathlon).

Having had a disappointing result at full distance the previous year and a new addition to the family, I swore off Ironman, then signed up for this half distance. Determined to get a good result at this very hilly bike course, I focussed my effort into the bike, TR, bestbikesplit, the works, I even took a job near the course (!) so I could practice on the bike course, and even though it’s about an hour drive I camped there the night before so I was as prepared as I possibly could be!

So I come out of the water dreaming of a 3:30 bike split, and what I though was a realistic 3:45 goal, pumping up the hills watching my power meter like a hawk, hammering the downhills just the same, suddenly at about 45mph descent approaching a red flag turn my rear tire gives up and the rear end is washing all over the place, I hold it and free wheel as best as I can to a natural stop, lose fifteen minutes repairing the bike due to lost tools, remount and start hammering again…now it’s over 32°C, I’ve got many hills to climb and I’ve got a full closed TT helmet on…I am cooking hot.:hot_face: I got hotter and hotter until I just couldn’t take anymore, stopped, threw my helmet on the grass, raged at the clouds whilst bemused triathletes plodded past, :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: raged at the rules that meant I had to put the helmet on again, and got on with it.

I think my bike split was ~4h15 against my PB of 2h58. I was dead. I looked at the T2 tent. I looked at my watch. I thought about the half marathon ahead of me. “Nah.”

Because I quit at T2 and I was dead on my feet, the only place I had to sit was the finishers area, so I also had to deal with all the congratulations and backslapping :sob:

Mine is not so much the worst, but the funniest and frustrating. I am new to trainerroad. At the local MTB race series I placed 19 out of 40 in my class at the first race. . Best finish ever. Usually bottom 5. Checking the results I noticed that If I finished 1 minute Faster (60 minute race) I would beat 4 other people. They changed the track weekly but I thought about all the ways I could pick up a minute. Strategies for the soft off chamber turns, punchy climbs etc. Race day came and the track was very close to the week before. Picking up a minute, no problem! I raced and did 85% of what I planned. I was feeling pretty good, Saw the results 20th out of 40. WTF.


No worries, I probably laugh at some things I shouldn’t as well.

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My worst was probably when I was much younger and tried to ride up a category after almost a month off the bike due to a sinus infection… and I even think it was going to be my first ride after recovering… as you can expect the race took off and very quickly I fell off the back of the pack and had to turn around and go back to the start in shame :smiley:

I had a gravel race today. The Grasshopper Adventure Series’ Low Gap race, 43 miles 5500’ of climbing. I’ve been consistent with my training indoors and getting in some long dirt rides with a good amount of climbing. Went in to this week feeling like I had done everything I could have but got dropped from the start. I couldn’t find my climbing legs or any legs for that matter. To top it off I missed a turn onto the second half of the course and added 5 miles round trip and about 20 minutes. Mentally I went to some dark places. I’m just not happy with how my training is going and where my fitness is. Something needs to change.

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Mine would have to be a toss up between these two:

  • One of the last CX races of the season last year (January 2019). I made a better than usual start, then got nudged off on the second corner. After that the red mist descended and I made a mistake on nearly every technical section, getting more angry/frustrated. Finished near the back and had to have a long talk with myself about staying calm! :slight_smile:
  • Crit race on a wet and cold UK May evening. My heart wasn’t in it from the start, took the first corner too cautiously, got dropped, couldn’t get back on and pulled out without even completing a lap.

Third crit of last season. It was a horror show!

Felt good (was good) but the weather was shocking. Warm up went well but I realised during the warm up that I recognised almost nobody in the race.

Lined up, flag dropped and the first three lap madness began. I was sitting around 10-12 but it was killing me. ‘Keep pushing’ I told myself, ‘it’ll steady in a minute, just hold until then…’ It never did steady, not to my mind anyway.

Maybe 5-6 laps later, I was out the back and after 2/3 of the race, I’d been lapped :joy:

Finished the race and the organiser said ‘welcome to the 1/2s’. WTF?! I was too knackered to argue the toss but what I did learn is that a top level crit is nothing like a cat 3 crit :rofl: