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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?


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

  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.

  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.

  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.

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

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

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

  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.

  9. 教育的目的,不在應該思考什麼,而是教吾人怎樣思考......................................................................

  10. 生命所經歷的折磨愈多,其所產生的奮鬥力愈大。................. ................................................

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

  13. 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!