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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fundamental Ultraruning Skills: The poo in the woods

My good friends over at Ted's Google Group started a thread on paleo wiping.  This reminded me of several questions I've received over the years regarding the delicate issue of pooping during ultras. 

I am always a little surprised this question does not come up more often.  Here's the situation- you're thirty miles into a 50 mile run.  You're surrounded by nothing but untamed wilderness.  You have to drop a #2.  Since there are no porta-potties for another 20 miles, you are left with no choice but to drop drawers and let loose. 

I always assume everyone has the benefit of being raised in the sticks.  I sometimes forget my suburbanite friends have probably never had the opportunity to hone their wilderness bowel movement skills.  I am also somewhat surprised at the amount of anxiety some people feel at the thought of dropping a deuce outside the friendly confines of the plastic vertical coffins neatly lined up at the start line of races. 

My first bit of advice- practice.  Don't wait until race day to attempt a torpedo launch in the woods.  Next time you're out on the trails, find a secluded spot and give it a go.

So how do you actually go about jettisoning some excess weigh?  Instead of explaining the process in detail, I'll refer you to this video posted in the Google Group:


Here are some additional pointers not covered in the video:
  • When actually squatting, it can be beneficial to hold your cheeks apart.  Sadly, I have to credit Mtv's The Real World for this tip.
  • Keeping a small piece of biodegradable toilet paper in your pocket can help with the final cleanup procedure.
  • When choosing a location to squat, most people simply wander a fair distance from the trail.  Make sure you don't inadvertently walk too close to a different trail or road.
  • Know what the local poisonous plants... don't squat in them.
  • Avoid plants with thorns, too.
  • Same deal with bees.
Experienced wilderness dumpers... have any additional tips to add?

16 comments:

  1. I always carry a spare ziploc bag to pack out the toilet paper.

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  2. It helps to find a tree to hold on to so you can simultaneously squat AND lean backward, providing a larger buffer zone between shoes and turd.

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  3. This post had me laughing! Why is pooping such a funny topic?!

    Being more of a suburbanite myself, I don't have any tips, but look forward to seeing what others have to offer.

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  4. I'm glad you posted this. I've never run an Ultra, and I have to admit I never though about the logistics of crapping in the woods during a race.

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  5. Some wives worry about what their husbands are viewing on-line......I have to worry about poop videos :)

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  6. LMAO, Gross Tucker Gross!
    Yes I did watch all the way to the end.

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  7. Pooping in the woods is easy. Pooping in the desert, not so much.

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  8. Just a note. please don't practice. outdoor dumps are emergency only.
    bring t.p. for sure and it also helps to burn the paper after use. this creates less trash in the great outdoors.

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  9. I had to laugh on my long run today. Had to wander off the trail and drop the ole stink pickle. It had been a while since I led the Browns to a place OTHER than the super bowl. It was suprisingly easy to pitch a loaf trailside. These poo phrases doing anything for ya?

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  10. I have yet to drop the kids off at the pool during a race, but the odds of laying some cable in the woods increase as my trail runs get longer. (I'm thinking that baby-wipes-in-a-baggie is probably the way to go...)

    Thanks for the tips, as well as the phrase "torpedo launch"...that was a new one for me.

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  11. Great advice here. It's an odd topic, but one that can lead to great discomfort if misunderstood!

    I was going to ask about TP and sweat, since we are a bunch of sweaty buttholes! The baby wipes idea is great!

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