Did not finish

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In racing, did not finish (DNF) denotes a result of a participant who does not finish a given race, either because of a mechanical failure,[1] injury, or involvement in an accident.[2] This may also be used in cases where the competitor has hit the time limit for the race, especially in speedcubing.[3]

The term is used in:

Race participants try to avoid receiving a DNF, as some associate it with poor driving.[10]

Scholarly research[edit]

Decathlon competitors[edit]

Numerous studies have sought to figure out why DNF rates vary greatly, even within the same competitive discipline. For example, in track and field, Edouard found a 22% overall DNF rate among high level decathlon competitors but DNF rates in individual events ranging from less than 1% to over 6%.[11]

DNFs are also not always evenly distributed across all participants. For example, a 2009 New York Times analysis of New York City Marathon results concluded that recreational competitors were more likely to finish the race rather than be classified as DNF: "Elite runners seem more inclined to drop out rather than simply complete the race, and runners visiting from abroad seem more inclined to push themselves to the finish line no matter their time."[12] Glace et al. (2002) performed ANOVA analysis of finishers as compared to DNFs in an ultramarathon and concluded that they had statistically different nutrition and liquid intake.[13] Holbrook et al. found physiological differences between finishers and DNFs among horses engaging in long-distance races.[14]

Types of DNF[edit]

Auto racing[edit]

In auto racing a DNF usually occurs due to a mechanical failure, an accident, or driver fatigue, prevents a driver from finishing a race.


In skiing, especially in the speed disciplines of downhill and super-G, a DNF can denote an athlete who has lost control and crashes off their skis.

Athletes can also DNF without crashing if they stray too far outside the racing line. This might occur through skiing out, where an athlete misses a gate at any point during a ski race. The consequences of doing so are instant elimination from the event even if it spans multiple runs, as slalom, giant slalom and the combined events do at the Winter Olympics.

Off-road racing[edit]

In off-road racing a DNF might cost a racing team a points championship in its racing class. It is not uncommon though that the more races in a season, the better chance another team will DNF, therefore a championship and purse could still be won.[15]

Related terms[edit]


  1. ^ "You Should Almost Always Finish Your Race". 19 April 2021..
  2. ^ McCormick, Steve. "DNF". NASCAR racing. About.com. Archived from the original on 5 September 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  3. ^ "WCA Regulations | World Cube Association". www.worldcubeassociation.org. Retrieved 2023-04-01.
  4. ^ "SCORE-International.com – THE BAJA 1000 & WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP DESERT RACING". Score-international.com. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  5. ^ "Best In The Desert | North American Off-Road Racing Organization". Bitd.com. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  6. ^ "SADR Racing | Southern Arizona and Mexico Desert Racing". Racesadr.com. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  7. ^ "Lucas Oil Products, Inc. - Keep That Engine Alive!". Lucasoil.com. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  8. ^ Thuneberg-Selonen, Terhi; Pösö, Jukka; Mäntysaari, Esa; Ojala, Matti (1999). "Use of individual race results inquad the estimation of genetic parameters of trotting performance for Finnhorse and Standardbred trotters" (PDF). Agricultural and Food Science in Finland. 8 (4–5): 353–363. doi:10.23986/afsci.5635. ISSN 1795-1895. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  9. ^ Moore, Oliver (21 June 2006). "Canadian cyclist nears finish line of gruelling race; Aided by painkillers for injured knee, Wallace pedals on to Atlantic City". The Globe and Mail. p. A14.
  10. ^ Rayner, Gordon (31 Aug 2012). "Cyclist Jody Cundy apologises for disqualification rant". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2022-01-12. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  11. ^ Edouard, P. (April 2011). "Frequency of dropouts in decathlon: An epidemiological retrospective study". Science & Sports. 26 (2): 97–100. doi:10.1016/j.scispo.2010.11.002.
  12. ^ Lehren, Andrew W. (June 3, 2009). "Finish Line in Sight, Final Challenge Is Making It There". New York Times. p. B14.
  13. ^ Glace, Beth W.; Murphy, Christine A.; McHugh, Malachy P. (December 2002). "Food Intake and Electrolyte Status of Ultramarathoners Competing in Extreme Heat". J Am Coll Nutr. 21 (6): 553–559. doi:10.1080/07315724.2002.10719254. PMID 12480801. S2CID 32316168.
  14. ^ Holbrook, T. C.; Birks, E. K.; Sleeper, M. M.; Durando, M. (August 2006). "Endurance exercise is associated with increased plasma cardiac troponin I in horses". Equine Veterinary Journal. 38 (S36): 27–31. doi:10.1111/j.2042-3306.2006.tb05508.x. PMID 17402387. S2CID 45011618.
  15. ^ "Points Schedule | Lucas Oil off Road Racing Series". Archived from the original on 2021-09-29. Retrieved 2021-09-29.