Thursday, May 24, 2012

Etiquette for Peeing on the Trail

Just when you think you had heard it all, you get blindsided.

A reader, Rob, had an interesting situation come while running on the trails a few weeks ago. He said he had to make a quick judgment call about what to do, and wondered what true “trail running etiquette” was for this particular puzzling situation.

Rob was running along minding his own business. He took a turn, leaving a heavily wooded area, and came onto an open prairie. That’s when he encountered it - a woman "squatting" just two feet off the trail.

Rob didn’t make it clear if she was doing #1 or #2. I suspect it was #1 or he would have said otherwise (and been traumatized for life). Rob’s eyes met the eyes of the urinator with an "oh crap" expression. He wasn’t sure if he should:

  1. Immediately turn around
  2. Backtrack into the woods and wait for her to finish, or
  3. Keep going.

Rob opted for Door #3. Best part was, as he was running by, the urinator gave a head nod and said “Hello.” What a friendly urinator this gal was!

Rob says, “I've looked on other running blogs for proper etiquette but no one seems to cover this situation. Was I in the wrong?”

I have to say I’ve never encountered this situation, per se. I have definitely been in races where people are peeing everywhere, but I’ve never been on a trail when I encountered a squatter when it was just me and them, gazing into each other’s eyes. 

I don’t know if there is true etiquette around this situation. My thought is that if she had the guts to pee right there by the trail without making an effort to conceal herself, then all bets are off. I would keep running as Rob did, and give a nice friendly runner wave. I might even yell out, “Nice form!”

However, with Rob being a dude, and the urinator being a lady (uh…maybe not), this may had an additional dynamic to take into account. So complex!

What would you do? Is there running etiquette for this situation?

SUAR

61 comments:

  1. So he came out of the wooded area, where she could have peed in the concealment of the trees, into an open area, where a woman was squatting, in the open...?

    Yeah, keep going. Or make a large detour around the crazy lady.

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  2. I love your idea......"Nice form!" Had I been the urinator in that situation I would have appreciated the humor.

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  3. He should have turned around immediately, sprinted to his car and sped off never to return to that trail again. I think not.

    I am surprised he even had to ask. He was in a public place, he should have been asking about the the etiquette of the woman. Since she obviously wasn't taking modesty precautions why should he even worry about it?

    As a rule of thumb, when in a situation where things don't seem quite right, I try not to over think and just continue on.

    Dana Roueche.

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  4. I just would have kept going. I don't want to get myself involved in anyones personal business.

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  5. I think he did the right thing. Can I make a suggestion for anyone that needs to go #2 on a run. PLEASE do not do it under a bridge! Last summer I was on a run in the HOT Sacramento heat and ran under a bridge and the stench from someone's #2 about killed me (I think the heat exasperated the situation). I literally started gagging and almost threw up. You may think the bridge conceals you but you are just leaving a bombshell for someone else.
    I figure of all the places to talk about this, your blog seemed most appropriate. :)

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  6. Being a guy I would leave out the Nice Form comment and just run on through. I wouldn't say a thing and keep my gaze away, head turned.

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  7. Meh. We're all runners. She probably should have a been a bit further off the trail but we all pee, right? It was probably one of those "if I can just go REALLLLY fast no one will come" I've def risked it before, and will again.

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    1. Well said, solesearch. We all pee.

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  8. She apparently wasn't too worried! My ? For all the people that can't hold it is, do you carry TP at all times??

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    1. no-drip dry-but I live in the desert so it's easier to dry faster!

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    2. I carry cottonelle. TP is no bueno on a sweaty bum.

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    3. I mean the ones that come in a little pack.

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    4. google P-Style ladies - discreetly pee standing up, no TP required!

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  9. It seems the runner has more of a problem with the situation than the squatter..LOL
    My personality demands that I say something to her as I run by, to try to smooth it over and ease the discomfort ....like "darn, now I have to go pee too!", deflect the situation/embarassment back on me and I guarantee you have a new friend at the end of the run....just don't shake her hand.

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  10. i think rob did the right thing. as an avid trail runner,(not so much now that baby 4 is almost here)ive always assumed the general rule of thumb is to go off trail if ya gotta go bad....and if you happen to pass someone going,well either smile,nod your head(holler "nice form!") and keep running,or just avoid eye contact and keep running...
    :D

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  11. I would have run straight at her and hurdled over her head. I mean, she's an obstacle on the trail, no?

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    1. That probably would have scared the crap out of her.

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    2. I would pull my pants off, squat down next to her, and take a piss myself. I find awkwardness entertaining, so i wouldnt even hide my penis.

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  12. Meh, we're all grown ups, and we're all runners. Sometimes you gotta go, and it feel so much better to run after you lighten your load. That being said, I think the onus is on the squatter to move off the trail a bit, choose a less visible spot, or deal with the consequences.

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  13. I probably have #1ed hundreds of times outside but try to make sure im pretty hidden. If seen, i would say hello :) but if #2 i would probably shit myself...oh wait.

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  14. I would have chosen #3 as well. But if I were the urinator, I would probably be more discreet for teh benefit of everyone involved.

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  15. Yes, finally, a bathroom! haha...awkward to say the least!

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  16. Be a gentleman and offer some toilet paper, "Wipe for the lady?"

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  17. I think what he did was fine. Like others said, if she wasn't more concealed, then it wasn't worth his time to worry about it. I pee on the trail all the time, although I really wait for a spot where I can hide off the trail a bit and try for a section of the trail where I can see people coming a long way off. There are some times when the side of the trail is swampy or I'm worried about poison ivy, in which case I would do what she did and just go. I ran my first half marathon 3 weeks ago and I had to go. I kept running hoping for a decent spot, but the best I got was the side of a hill hidden behind 1 tree! I was desperate though. I did just pull everything to the side, rather than dropping my drawers, so at least I didn't flash anyone.

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  18. Love this topic!

    As a dude, I frequently pee within a foot or two of the trail, but usually facing a tree. I'd prefer it if anyone running past did not look too closely and laugh at what they see, but I assume most women are happy to look the other way when they encounter this situation. Sometimes I've heard a comment or two that seemed unnecessarily derogatory and it sort of made me wonder why it was necessary. We all pee. If I'm not forcing you to watch, why is it necessary to get all panties-in-a-bunch about me not wanting to hike 1/4 mile off trail and destroy plants and insects along my journey?

    As a dude in this situation I would have also looked the other way. Although hurdling would have been hilarious, I just don't think I could ever be that brazen and I'm betting she might have fallen over or peed on herself and gotten upset.

    If I had TP I would definitely have offered verbally while averting my eyes.

    A joke or two if in good taste after passing would probably be acceptable humor to lighten up the situation. But there's a fine line between funny and insulting.

    I don't have any problem with #1 mere inches from the trail. No reason to hike into the woods. I mean, really, are we all that ashamed of our bodies? Heck, pee directly on the trail if you want. It's not like animals don't do that. And we are all animals after all.

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  19. I will pee in front of people-doesn't bother me. It's harder on an 80-100 mile ride and you just pull over at the side of the road and do it!
    Now-guys that whip it out and start doing other things with it...well I have been known to laugh in their faces and tell them it's so small you can't even see the damn thing. Last time they exposed themselves to ME on the trails!

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  20. First off the etiquette would be on the part of the runner answering the nature call. They should have gotten well off the trail and used whatever cover is available to be as discret as possible.

    At my last 50k, I actually did come above another female runner who had gotten off the trail (not as far I as I wold have gone) and was in a full squat. I continued running.

    I have also seen female runners simply take 2 steps off the trail, face away from the trail and pull their skirt/shorts aside. Frankly, I don't want to see other person pee or otherwise. Runners who stop for nature calls should get off and away for the trail.

    Side note since we are talking everything pee related, I'd rather run PAST someone who stepped off the trail to pee then run WITH someone in the last miles of an ultra who peed in their skirt/shorts. Gross.

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  21. This may have been me on Sunday. She probably moved as far off the trail as possible before losing it. Thankfully, she moved OFF of the trail and thought her spot wasn't likely to be discovered (since it was OFF the trail). Ask me how I know...

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  22. At my first half marathon on the road a couple of weeks ago there was a guy using the bushes in full view of the 13000 people running past. He did have his back towards us and its a lot easier for us guys...

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  23. "the urinator being a lady (uh…maybe not)"...I can't believe YOU wrote this, it goes against everything YOU stand for... If you are a runner can you be a "lady" as well? Seriously, there is a point when runners just get it...Option 3 for sure, just keep on your way...ignore the runner on your left and compliment the lady at the end of the run...

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    Replies
    1. Hahaha! Uh, just making a little joke here, calm down!

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    2. I wonder if this poster was the urinator lady?

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  24. What about when you're running on a country road and you happen upon a couple involved in a...ahem....sexual act...about 15 feet off the road in a bean field? True story. I went with #3.
    Sarah

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    1. Oh geez, I'd have to turn around on that one and call it a day. Or, use the "nice form" line.

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    2. High five them!!! (after they're done that is). Nice form would be appropriate. Honestly, I'd probably be jealous...

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  25. I can say that here in south Africa they were both right. You just do it where ever you want and you just continue on and greeting :)

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  26. This is Rob, the runner who just kept running.

    I told this story to a few (non-ruuner)friends and they thought I was completely in the wrong. To me, it is just a fun story and was surprised when people actually thought I was wrong.

    Anyway, love the "nice form" and TP suggestions. I'll keep them in mind for next time.

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    1. If I was the pee'er I would have rather you run by then run in the other direction. As embarrassing as it would have been I would have really been devasted to know I scared someone off when I couldn't hold it. It's hard to know what her situation was so you did the right thing.

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    2. i've been the pee'er in this situation before and was surprised by a GROUP of teens when I never imagined any would show up. I always just pull my shorts aside so nothing to see, but man, I was embarrassed. As were they for me, but we just smiled and kept on going (opposite THANKFULLY) directions.

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  27. I lost it at the nice form comment. Hey - if she has no shame doing it - have no shame with keeping on running! It is much more difficult for a chick to pee in the woods - so we gotta have the balls to just go!

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  28. Nope, I would have stopped and doubled over from laughter. They would have laughed as well and then pissed their leg because they were laughing.

    That is just classic and even better that Rob came to you for the etiquette on it.....that is awesome.

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  29. I've been on both ends of this... HAHAHA!!! Be an adult, move on. Especially if you're a guy. Realize this is one of the only times we as women have penis envy. We have to strip and squat which is embarrassing, demoralizing and a pain in the butt. I can probably speak for all of us - we don't do it unless we really have to. Fear of being caught with your pants down - literally - isn't appealing. At all. So just keep going and leave us to our thing. This is why, on trail runs I prefer a running skirt with a panty so I can squat and just pull the panty to the side - skirt hangs down and covers my girl junk while I simultaneously find relief.....

    LOVE that she said hi!! Wow! That's funny!! It would be difficult not to stop and chat!! Or make a comment... "Hey, hope everything comes out ok on your run!" Something!!

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  30. I am not oppose to doing either .. I normally can hold pee for awhile,, its the pooping I have issues with,, I have pooped while out running lots of times,, roads and trails,, I live in the country so there is always somewhere off the road to go,, no cornfield to far,, trust me . I have used porta potties on work sites also,, probably illegal,, oh well. My Running Buddy peed in the Median while waiting for the start at the Marine Corp Marathon this past year,, I say if you gotta go,, you gotta go. Rob did the right thing,, She wasnt a shy woman or she would have gone off trail,, a bit more !

    Tammy

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  31. This is classic, and I must say, I live a different life from I all the other people posting.
    I live outside Philadelphia, we don't trail run alone. We just don't. The idea that we have someone to 'cover' us while nature is calling is great, and the buddy you're with will always forewarn the oncoming runners and hikers that there's something ahead they might not want to see!

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  32. I agree that if you risk peeing in such plain sight I would just run on. However if the person seemed friendly your nice form comment may ease some awkwardness hahaha.

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  33. I guess I would have opted for door #3 as well. I guess I'm surprised she didn't tuck in a little more out of site...must have been urgent situation!

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  34. In northern NJ, I think of road etiquette as running on the right side of the trail, which is usually paved. Some people just don't get it. I only see squatters (or am one) at races in other states - with lots of parks full of port-o-johns in NJ, it would really weird me out to see a squatter!

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  35. At the Boston Marathon an elite female runner had to go #1 but the porta potty was in use so she pulled stuff over and squatted right there. Everyone was staring at her in disbelief (apparently non-runners) but she was gun shy. If you gotta go you gotta go. Don't stare at the person, I'm sure it's embarrassing enough for them.

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  36. It's kind of like when you're at a stop light and someone is picking their nose. Do you stare? No! You go about your business. My vote is for #3.

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  37. I expect to see this more on a trail than where I saw it last...during a road race! It was a woman in this case, too, and she was 4 or 5 feet off the road, "behind" a tree. What was funnier? There was literally a port-pottie right around the corner. AND it was a 10K. Yeah. I was a bit aghast.

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  38. I think I would pretend I didn't see and pick up the pace and get the heck out of there. If she's that close to the trail, she kinda gets what she gets.

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  39. Doing the Paris Marathon a few years ago, and finding it necessary to walk a while, I took to the footpath to keep out of the way of those runners with more energy than me - and interrupted another (male) competitor squatting behind a parked van. "Désolé", he said, making it clear who he thought was in the wrong, and also answering a question that had bothered me ever since I learned the word: how much stronger is it than a mere "sorry"? But does big city marathon etiquette teach us anything about trail running, I wonder?

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  40. I'd have kept going, too, and maybe added, "Feel those quads burn!". My first time having to lighten the load happened in a race I ran this weekend. I will never mock a urinator in a race again. ;-)

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  41. I know this is a really old post, but I am trying to catch up. I recently started running, and on almost every run I pee on myself. I think it has something to do with an incontinence problem following the 6 kids I have given birth to, because if I stop to go in the bathroom at the park where I run - I can only get a little trickle out. Then, 10 minutes later pee is starting to leak again. It's nothing major - In this heat it just mixes with the sweat and isn't noticeable, but I would love a fix that didn't involve surgery.

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