Tomorrow is Marathon Monday here in Boston, and in honor of the occasion, I have an interesting and disgusting tidbit to share.

My friend Marie told me that she was planning to go to the Marathon (we both have Mondays off now) and watch at the finish line, but her mom told her not to, because by the end of the race, THE RUNNERS ARE COVERED IN THEIR OWN BODY FLUIDS, PARTICULARLY FECAL MATTER.


I couldn’t believe it — I was shocked. I know it must be difficult to stop running and start again, especially in a 26-mile race, but is it really worse than pooing yourself in public? And do people really throw up on themselves and pee all over themselves? You’d think that with a marathon that the fastest runners finish in about two and a half hours would be a short enough time not to have to go to the bathroom.

I didn’t believe it — it seemed too much of an urban legend.

So I shared this knowledge with a few friends (okay, a LOT — I was shocked and grossed out and wanted to see the shock and grossed-out-ness on their faces!) to see if they casually had any knowledge about it, and each of them were as shocked as I was. I told Lisa over AIM tonight, and she immediately googled the phenomenon.

The results brought up a page from Here is the verbatim post:

Running While Running: Imodium And The Boston Marathon
Posted 04.26.2004 by
In The Bushes (95)

As some of you may remember, I am a marathon runner. I also have IBS. So when I run, I run.

A few weeks ago, I
wrote in to Poonurse about my problem. She suggested a low fat diet, and perhaps a Fleet enema before the race. After doing my own research, however, I’ve been contemplating using some anti-diarrhea medication to bung things up back there in anticipation of the 26 miles of pounding feet and sloshing stomach that will be the Boston Marathon.

Although I was a little unsure about trying out this untested (for me) method on such an important day, I decided to give it a go and packed a box of Imodium, along with some Metamucil for after the race. I was staying with friends who live in Cambridge, so I was having second thoughts right up until the day before the race — I am not shy, but for some reason, travel usually stops me up. However, I ended up having no cause for concern. I made sure to get some coffee every morning and things kept moving right along as per usual, maybe at slightly less than the normal thrice-daily rate.

Finally, race day. I ran down to the evil corporate coffee shop down the street and got myself a big cup of coffee. I drank it with some coffee cake and then chased it down with a bunch of Gatorade and some Imodium. All that was done just in time to meet some friends and ride the bus out to the Athletes’ Village. (For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of running the Boston Marathon, buses leave the Common at 7:30 in the morning to take runners to a big field full of tents, port-a-potties and other runners; you arrive around 9:00 and sit there until the noon — ugh — start of the race.)

The ride out was spent pleasantly, chatting with a newfound friend about bodily functions and running, two of my favorite subjects. She said she had never tried the Imodium method. So far, I was pleased with the results. We finally got to our destination and lined up for the port-a-potty. The lines were already long. I was partially pleased (and partially dismayed) to discover that, upon sitting upon the stinky throne, I needed immediately to take a dump. Well, the weather forecast had predicted record highs, so I supposed that was a good thing; after all, the less weight I’d have to carry around, the better, right? I will inform you here that the poo was nothing that interesting; it was brown with little white speckles and stood up, proud and vertical, from the heap of waste that had already collected in the bottom of the tank.

The two-plus hours spent in the field involved a lot more exciting discussions. For one thing, as we walked around the athletes’ village, we couldn’t help but notice all the people who were sitting between the port-a-johns eating snacks! Much speculation took place as to where their snacks came from and whether those were really chocolate PowerBars they were eating. A woman who had her own method for preventing the runs while racing joined me later. She had her very own bottle of Pepto and sat there guzzling cup after yummy pink cup. Mmmmm! I visited the poo houses twice more before heading for the start, so I wasn’t sure that the Imodium had done anything at all.

As for the race itself, I am happy to say that the Imodium seemed to do the trick, although I was nauseated and had horrible cramps throughout most of the race. I attribute that more to the hot weather than to the pharmaceutical attempts at preventing butt blow-out. And I did observe some runners who had suffered from a lack of foreshit in that respect: their brown poopypants and their bowl-legged gaits made me thankful for my decision to try extreme measures. I later learned that a pal of mine had to stop seven times (!) during the race to lighten his load.

I finished the race about a half hour slower than I had hoped, which seemed to be par for the course — the conditions were so bad that people were passing out and projectile vomiting all over the place. I am happy to report that I didn’t end up needing the Metamucil at all — everything is just moving along as usual. I haven’t decided if I’ll try the Imodium again; I think some more research is in order before I use it at another race.

In The Bushes

Some of the best comments:

doniker (1245) — 04.26.2004
people shitting and pissing themselves, projectile vomiting and people passing out?
I have seen these things happen at rock concerts and keg parties, I never realize it happens during a marathon run.

pooQueen (not verified) — 04.26.2004
Well, congratulations to you In The Bushes for running the marathon. I don’t run, only when I really have to use the toilet and my bowels are knocking hard at the back door. So other runners actually had shit in their pants? How nasty. Why didn’t they stop to go? Is finishing the race in good time more important than soiling one’s pants?

Jimbo (41) — 04.26.2004
that story sucked! i wanna here descriptive stories about explosive diahrrea, not about how everything was good. and rob d.troit, WAY too much information. ehat you and doniker do is your business, and i dont want to read about.

Malicious Pooper (not verified) — 04.26.2004
Projectile vomiting? Did the runners eat bullets before they ran? Jesus!

Shite (not verified) — 04.26.2004
IIRC, the female winner of the Boston Marathon several years ago shit a nice load of ass-piss into her lovely undies shortly before crossing the finish line. She was German or Austrian (?) and the local media loooovvveddd showing her shitty pants with the melty chocolate streaming down her legs!!

daphne (2067) — 04.26.2004
I’m wondering why no one has made butt tampons.
I do remember a triathalon ten years ago where the woman who was in the lead most of the time came in second at the last moment. It was very sad, and she had period blood all down her legs and everything.
I felt so bad for her.
I guess when this is your life, though, that a little poop is nothing compared to beating your best time.

I think I’ve found my new favorite website.