A jogger known as the Mad Pooper has caused an uproar across Colorado Springs with the public turds that she’s been dropping in and around one family’s yard, and allegedly a few other places too. Colorado Springs police are on the case, although a particularly exasperated public information officer told me Wednesday they’d been overwhelmed by calls from the press; no, they didn’t have any updates; and also to please stop calling.
The Mad Pooper, whoever she is, appears to be motivated by revenge or some sense of exhibitionism, because habitually releasing craps in front of God and everyone can’t really be written off as unintentional. That said, she is far from the only runner who has answered the call of nature while on a run.
Anyone who’s spent enough time as a distance runner knows the sudden feeling of terror as your innards clench up miles from any toilet. I’ve been there, as have many others. Champion marathoner Paula Radcliffe once famously crapped herself during a race, and a French race walker did the same in the most recent Olympics. I asked for your best stories, and boy, did you deliver.
In 2013, I ran my first half marathon. Around mile 8, the stomach cramps began. The next port a potty was at mile 11, so it was either hold out or shit in the street. I made it to the port a pot, quickly relieved myself, and was back on the course in under a minute. The last two miles were plagued by that familiar tremor of a Big One brewing, but I made it across the line. I was elated! 13.1 miles and no shit in my pants. Of course, my legs, at this point, are completely numb- I’d never run anything like that before. It was p great. My friend I ran the race with looks over at me and says “oh my god, your leg.” I look down, and there is a long stream of shit running down my leg. And it’s not stopping. It’s flowing. She starts laughing so hard that she then pisses herself. I immediately start sobbing. So I’m sobbing and shitting at this point, because I 1. have no idea how to make it stop and 2. can’t feel it happening- it’s automatic. So I get behind a dumpster in an attempt to take off my soiled pants and get in the car, only to turn around a realize a group of 5-7 men had been watching the entire time, and they’re absolutely losing it. My friend floors it to the nearest gas station, and after 30 minutes on the toilet, the runs finally stop. I took my ass to a Chili’s for lunch because when you’re that awful, it’s the only restaurant that will welcome you. Safe to say I learned my lesson and now pound 6 Imodium tablets before any race. Hopefully my public humiliation can save some others this pain.
Once, running around a large pond, that familiar feeling hit me real hard. To get out of sight-line from other runners, I hopped up onto a wooded incline, but didn’t make it far before needing to release the creature. I squatted down, but the hill elevated my pile to a level where my low-squatted nuts dangled into the fresh cargo. My friends noticed this before me.
Sometime either freshman or sophomore year, probably during the fall for XC season, we, the Ole Miss cross country team, were out for a long run somewhere west-southwest of Oxford, and I guess I had had a particularly gruesome lunch because this thing came out of nowhere. There are some old antebellum train tracks that stretch out that way toward Thacker Mountain, on top of which is an old fire tower. That was our turnaround point, and I just couldn’t make it. This was bad.
So I peeled off from the group to go drop trow perhaps 100 yards into the bush, because it was just so unbearable. Obviously, I’m not carrying any toilet paper, because I’m on a XC training run. And so in light of that particular absence, I had to use MY FUCKING SOCKS to clean up. The blisters the next day were horrendous. The self-loathing registered about the same.
I backpack and long-distance hike these days, so woods-shitting has become standard practice, and I’m always much better prepared than I was that day.
I was training for my half marathon in two weeks. Today was a final long run, 12 miles. Mapped out a route, carbo loaded the night before, did everything to replicate race conditions.
It was going great, I felt good. No doubt I was gonna ace my final test. Then mile 5 hit, and I felt rumblings. By mile 7 I was in agony. I needed to shit badly. Problem is, while I was on a busy street it was all residential. Not a public toilet in sight. I seriously considered knocking on a door. I was desperate.
Finally I had an option, not a toilet, but a cemetery. It was surrounded by a stone wall, so at least it was blocked off. It would have to do. The plan was to head over to a wooded area, but you know how shits are, once relief is near, resistance is futile. I barely made it ten steps in and I shit on the stone wall.
What a glorious shit it was. God it felt good. Only when I was done did I look up. Sure enough there was a ninety year old man not 30 feet away with a look of horror on his face I’ll never forget until the day I die.
While I haven’t had to do this while strictly running, I did once in my teens need to take one during a game of pickup basketball at a local park. Things were going along as normal, but at one point of no particular importance during the game I felt/heard a grumble in my stomach accompanied by a cold sweat and sudden pressure in my rectum which I am sure everyone has felt at some point in their life. Well, the park did not have any bathroom facilities and my home was a quarter mile away - I wasn’t going to make it. Luckily, the basketball court was adjacent to a bit of the wooded area of the park. I immediately dashed into the woods, deep enough that an errant pass wouldn’t find my BM, dropped by pants, squatted down, and let go. I think I wiped with some broad plant leaves (not sure what species), and jumped back in the game.
This happened to me while on a 11 mile trail run in Mendocino National Forest. I ate too much instant oatmeal and instant coffee mixed with instant hot chocolate, and about 30 minutes in, the poop urge was too great.
I went off trail and squatted behind a tree. It was honestly a fantastic poop; I felt primal and alive.
When it came time to clean up, I used some large leaves that served as nature’s toilet paper. I thought about digging a hole and putting it in it, but I ended up leaving it. I later learned that human poop is really terrible for the environment, and that was essentially littering.
Pooping in the wild wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever done. In fact, I sorta want to do it again.
I used to go for rides in the mornings before work in a hilly suburban area with little no public restrooms. One morning while on a ride, I came down with a case of the bubble guts and farts turned into sharts faster than I can ride a mile. Panic sets in when you’re miles from home and no public restroom in sight. With options limited to, shit my biking shorts or shit in public; I chose the more comfortable and possibly more humiliating option. I decided to shit in someone’s bushes. The thought of riding and sitting on a bike 5 miles home with bike shorts full of poop sounded like the first level of hell, so a choice was made. It was still early, early enough that your Archie Bunkers haven’t yet retrieved their paper. So another choice was made, I was going to steal a newspaper and use it wipe my ass with it. I found a secluded-ish bush, grabbed a newspaper and let it rip. In an effort to try and hide as much as I could, contorting my body to be as less visible as possible, I ended up shitting hot wet diarrhea all over my shoes and biking bib. Turns out I am now in the 2nd level of hell, not only did I then have to ride home with shit in my shorts, I have shit on the outside of my shorts.
Next time I am just going to shit my pants.
I was out on a run in a more urban part of Arizona, surrounded by houses in a predominately residential area, when all of a sudden my stomach starts grumbling like you wouldn’t imagine. I was about 3 miles from my house and, as a full-grown adult runner with IBS, I was well aware of all the potential options for bathrooms between where I was and where I needed to be. The best option I could think of was a church about a quarter mile from where I was. So I kept on running, looking more like an Olympic speed-walker than a casual runner, clasping my cheeks together with all the effort in my body. Things in my bowels began to progress faster than anticipated as I approached the church. I ran up toward the main entrance looking for some sign or something to point me toward the restrooms. Finally I find the door to the restroom and as I approach it I can tell that it’s going to be a very close call. I get to the door right as my stomach decides it’s reached full capacity and as I pull on the door and find that it’s locked I can’t keep it in any longer. So, I shit my pants trying to get into the bathroom of a church. Then in my haste to escape without being detected, I slide my boxer briefs off and leave them on the ground next to the bathroom, full of some foul stuff. It wasn’t like, juice-running-down-my-legs type of shitting my pants, but there was enough in there that someone probably had a bad day cleaning it up. Moral of the story, if you’re a church why the hell do you keep your restrooms locked during regular business hours?????
I once took a shit in the middle of a fartlek workout and didn’t miss a rep.
One time, I was running while holding a corn snake and had to stop and shit and a mountain biker rode by and asked, as my pants were around my ankles, “Is that a corn snake?”
I was already very well versed in the art of pooping outside, having worked for a lawn care company that didn’t pay extra for bathroom breaks, which of course led to me taking huge dumps on or around people’s properties when no one was around (and a dog could be realistically blamed).
So it wasn’t anything I was squeamish about when I started LOGGING long miles in the woods. The most important thing for me was always finding the right type of wiping leaf. When the tummy starts to rumble, you better start hunting for some good smooth leaves, otherwise you’re going to have to lose a sock - which means you’ll need to either carry a shit-stained sock with you until you can find a garbage bin, or you have to leave a shit stained sock in the woods somewhere. Somehow I can justify leaving a steaming pile of human dung behind some tree in the bush because it’s ORGANIC and will all return to the Earth, but a cotton sock or toilet paper is unforgivable litter. I guess we all have our lines.
Anyway, leaf selection. It’s so, so important. Smooth leaves, like arbutus or ideally eucalyptus, are perfect. Oval shaped, no spikes, and no chance of getting a nasty rash. If you’re in a PINCH and unsure about how your skin will react, rub it on the inside of your wrist and wait 10 seconds to see if there’s redness or irritation. An itchy wrist is infinitely more manageable than dealing with a rash on your dirty asshole when you might not see an aid station for hours. I’ll usually take 5 leaves, have one pass each (never ever double wipe), and when it’s clear, so are you. Back in the saddle, like a finely tuned NASCAR pit crew. Hand sanitizer is also clutch for afterwards unless you really want to roll the Pinkeye dice.
I went on a run one time with a big group of college and high school athletes around 3 years ago before my freshman year of college. This run was on a very narrow trail through some decently technical geography. Along the way back i stepped off the trail to answer the call of my bowels. I ran off a little ways so that no one would witness me take a poo and so that hopefully no one would stumble upon said poo either. However because it was an urgent call I did not venture that far off. Maybe 30 feet. During this time, I heard a man with a dog walking somewhere off in the distance. His voice got closer and it sounded like he was calling his dog back to him. I then heard rustling get closer and closer. The dog had gone off the trail and sounded like it was coming my way. I feared that this dog would find me and his owner would follow after him and gaze his eyes upon me, sweating in the hot July heat, shirtless, with running shorts pulled down, squatting over a pile of crap. This would be a very awkward encounter. I quickly grabbed rocks, twigs, some leaves, and whatever else I could find and began feverishly wiping my butt. The dog kept getting closer and as soon as it came into view I pulled up my shorts, stood up, and took off running.
This is not particularly dramatic, but I maintain it’s the most athletic thing I’ve ever done. For whatever reason, I didn’t shit before a winter morning run on a run so boring our college team exclusively reserved it for morning doubles—Morning Loop. You always know to shit before a morning run. During the last mile of this one, though, I was excruciatingly waddling home, somehow made it back to my apartment, peeled off my tights, backed into the bathroom, and shit while standing up from a couple feet in the middle of a spin move towards the toilet. That not a drop landed anywhere but in the can remains my greatest athletic achievement.
For a couple summers during college, my buddy Kevin & I worked and lived at this B&B/restaurant place on the Maine coast. The manager didn’t know (or didn’t care) that we’d take a case of beer from the walk-in and up to our rooms or down to the beach every night. One Saturday morning there was a 5-mile road race nearby, so we got coverage for our breakfast shift, went large the night before, and rolled up to the start line still reeking of booze. We were decent runners in high school, so we settled in not too far behind the leader, a serious-looking high-schooler whose stomach likely didn’t have the remnants of a dozen Shipyards sloshing around inside it. The road along the tidal marshes was hot and humid as hell, but we kept him in sight thru mile 3 or 4, when Kevin darted off into the bushes without saying a word. He didn’t need to.
I somehow kept it together enough to get 2nd place. It didn’t hurt that the finish line helpers were pretty girls from the resort one cove to the west. I made small talk with them as we waited for more finishers. Eventually Kevin rolls up, looking pretty fresh from his woodland adventure, and eager to chat up the helpers. I’m pretty sure he still got top 5, and the ladies, unaware of why he didn’t get 3rd, seemed eager to chat as well.
Then I looked down and saw it. His whole right calf, from knee to ankle, was painted brown. Or, yellow-brown. I think he saw my reaction, because he looked down too, and then sprinted to the porta-jons, again without saying a word. The girls definitely saw it, but they were very polite. Shit happens, I suppose. The dudes back at the kitchen, however, weren’t quite as merciful. Ol’ Poop Leg Kevin got to hear about that one for the rest of the summer.
I was in college and had heard chocolate milk was a great recovery drink. Knowing I was lactose intolerant but also understanding how much enjoyment my friends got reveling in my misfortune, I downed a full glass of choco milk. It took less than 5 minutes for me to begin violently shitting blood.
In college I was on a run around the perimeter when the feelings kicked in. I had no choice so I grabbed some copies of the campus newspaper and went into the bushes that were fortunately nearby. I found a decent spot just off the sidewalk and not in sight from the nearby building so everything went off without a hitch. As I was finishing up, I took a look at my surroundings. There appeared to be a bit of a makeshift leanto and a wad of plastic bags. Unfortunately, it seems I used a poor homeless person’s area as a bathroom.
I was training for a half marathon last fall and went out on my customary Sunday 10-miler, full of promise and excitement. Yeah, it was after dark and rain was forecasted but I knew nothing would stop me.
Sure enough, just after the 5-mile turnback point, I got the telltale shuddering, queasy stomach earthquake... After a couple minutes, it was all clenching and running, clenching and running. I can make it to the porta-potty around mile 7, I thought, no sweat, just twenty more minutes! Worse still, it had started to rain and I was soaked from head to toe, painfully jogging next to what appeared to be a junkyard filled only with pre-fab concrete pipes.
Suddenly, violently, after taking several walking breaks to try to quell the storm brewing within me, I knew the reckoning was at hand and I would not make it. So I clambered over the small hill and into the junkyard as fast as I could, perched myself on the lip of a wide concrete pipe and let loose.
Luckily, no one was around to see my shame and after removing my shirt for use as impromptu TP, I continued on my rain run. There’s nothing quite like the post-poop feeling and it’s only intensified by the suffering that comes before it. I lost a good shirt that night. Also I now can’t remember what happened to those boxers... Huh.
When I ran track and cross country in college we had a pretty demanding summer running schedule to keep in shape: at least 10 to 14 miles a day during the week, usually split into two runs, with longer runs on the weekends. During the week I would get a longer run in in the morning, then head to work from 12pm to 7pm, and get a second run in during my 30-minute mid-afternoon break. My half hour break time runs would take me through a typical suburban neighborhood—one where the land wasn’t clear-cut before building the houses, so there were plenty of stands of trees and bushes in front of and between houses—where there’s just houses, no convenience stores or such things. One day I’m nearly halfway through my run, at the furthest point I’ll be from my place of work, when the need to take a massive dump hits me. I happen to be on a stretch of road where the next 10 or 15 minutes will be nothing but houses. Shit.
The idea of frantically knocking on a random door, sweaty, crazed and demanding a toilet didn’t seem like a winning proposition either. I remembered that if I could just make it to the end of the street and another two blocks over there was a sump that could provide the shitting solitude I so desired.
As the pressure built up, and my clenching did nothing but slow me down, I amazed myself by arriving at the sump without issue, but one problem: I had forgotten about the barbed-wire fence surrounding the sump. I frantically ran around the perimeter, hoping to find where some teenagers had at one time or another broken the fence to explore inside. Alas, no such entryway presented itself. With time running out I found a mostly secluded spot near some coniferous trees with abundant low-lying branches and unleash the turds, thankfully staying out of view of any passerby. I sacrifice my socks to the cause and finish out the rest of the run, and day, with the predictable swamp-ass.
Another story (this one is way more foul) also took place while I lived in San Francisco. During my stint in SF I was an avid runner: I ran four full marathons, only to retire/quit running after tearing my piriformis while (under)training for my 4th (and thus far final) marathon. Anyway my longer weekday training run was typically on a Wednesday morning when I would run the 9 or so miles from my apartment in lower Pac Heights to the Golden Gate Bridge and back (a famous runners spot that ends by touching “Hoopers Hands” - this Hooper guy apparently used to talk people out of jumping off the GG bridge).
Early one Wednesday morning, I felt that particular rumble in my stomach and pressure in my gut as I made my way down the hill towards the Marina. There are a handful of public bathrooms along the trail, so I knew all would be well. Now, the first set of bathrooms was right near one of the yacht clubs (across from the Marina Safeway if you know the area at all). This being San Francisco, a number of homeless and less fortunate lived near the waterfront; either in a tent in the wooded areas nearby, some on old, leaky boats, and some in vans parked along the side of the road. My pace quickened to a sprint as the rumbling intensified dramatically while approaching the bathroom. Turning the corner into the restroom, I first saw a bulbous foot exploding out of a sandal sticking out underneath the stall.
I simply hadn’t considered the nightmare scenario that someone would be in the bathroom at 630am, but there he was - and he wouldn’t budge when I frantically pounded on the door. Frantically scanning the room, I realized that had three choices: the sink, the small metal urinal, or the narrow rectangular garbage bin affixed to the wall. As I hoisted myself up over the garbage can, I prayed that no one else would saunter in. I somehow deposited what felt like a metric ton of smelly, foul, hot cable. Stepping away from the can, I marveled at my accuracy as I seemed to have hit the mark. To add insult to injury, the bathroom only had a hand dryer and lacked paper towels. Damn you San Francisco.
One fun story was while running the SF Marathon (my first) which spends a nice long (boring) stretch in the middle of the race through Golden Gate Park. I ran for a few lovely miles in the park running alongside a lovely woman. We bonded and I was impressed with her pace and running experience. Suddenly in the middle of our conversation she veered off in front of me over to the side of the road and, in one movement, ripped down her shorts and let loose an impressively voluminous brown rope. I wanted to high five her but never saw her again.
On one afternoon run, I got that unfortunate grumble in my stomach. I was 2.5 miles away from my apartment and I knew I was 2 miles away from a public bathroom and I was in the middle of LA and wasn’t near anything I could hide from so where I could go to the bathroom in peace. It was a hot LA day and I was running without a shirt on, so ducking into a Starbucks to use the bathroom was definitely not an option. I was trying to find a dumpster area of a business in a back of an office building. It wasn’t super discreet. It was between two trash cans in the back of a medical office building.
Normally I wouldn’t have done this, but it was either go here or run back and parade by L.A. traffic in shorts you’ve defecated all over in. And at that point I’ve held my stomach together for a mile and I knew if I didn’t go now, I was going to lose all control. I decided to go. During mid-poop, I heard these heels clicking on the pavement from a distance. I poked my head over the trashcan. It was a woman 40 feet away, walking toward me. Down the alleyway toward the parking lot of the back of the building. I couldn’t catch a break it seemed like today. She was looking up toward my way and talking on her phone. “Oh fuck,” I thought.
I quickly pinched, pulled up my shorts and bolted. I ran right by her. She was beautiful, I noticed. I noticed she didn’t have the look of horror on her like she had caught someone pooping out in the middle of a parking lot. I thought that was odd. She was clearly deep in conversation on the phone. That’s when I noticed I was in the clear.
But there was something ... not only was she beautiful, she was very recognizable. That’s because she was. She was Olivia Wilde. I had pooped in front of Olivia Wilde in between two trashcans and she didn’t notice. Phew... think of how embarrassing that would have been. It could have potentially been something she told on a late night talk show about how she saw a runner pooping in a parking lot between two trash cans. I escaped a close call of embarrassment.
If you have a good story, plop it below.