Dear marathoners, please don't poop in people's yards

Runner holding stomach
(Image credit: Getty)

A marathon runner has been condemned after being caught dropping their shorts and relieving themselves on a stranger's lawn in the middle of a race. That stranger shared a video of the incident on Reddit (which has thankfully now been deleted), and amazingly some runners actually defended it.

Energy gels and adrenalin can be a dangerous mix, and stomach issues happen, but I'm firmly on the side of the lawn-owner. Pooping al fresco is absolutely not OK.

I used to live in an apartment building on the route of my hometown's annual half marathon. Usually I'd take part myself, but one year I forgot to sign up early enough and all places had sold out by the time I realized. Instead, I decided to loiter by my front door and support those who had signed up in a more timely manner, offering cheers, words of encouragement, and plenty of jelly babies (a traditional offering here in the UK).

It all started well, but about half an hour after the elites passed, a woman stopped nearby, looking uncomfortable. I asked if she was OK - and she began unfastening her shorts. Horrified, I begged her to walk just a few yards and use one of the portable toilets further along, then offered to let her come inside use my bathroom, but she wouldn't be deterred. She was determined to poop on my doorstep.

I ran inside and fetched toilet paper and a plastic bag, which she used – and then attempted to leave behind. Eventually I screamed and shamed her into taking it to a bin, but she would have been quite happy to run away, leaving it as my problem.

Despite what some Reddit commenters claim, shame or embarrassment didn't seem to factor in at all.

Please, no

Roadside pooping is no better. I've marshalled at plenty of races, and although runners throwing water bottles and dropping gel wrappers isn't ideal, it's something we expect and are prepared for. Once the tail walker has passed, we bag everything up and leave the area as we found it - perhaps even cleaner.

We're not prepared for biological hazards. Most races are marshalled by volunteers doing it to support the local community, but even if they were paid, they shouldn't have to handle that.

Sometimes you have to answer nature's call during a race but please, please don't just drop trou and do your business en route. It won't magically vanish after you've passed the finish line.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.