Runner's diarrhea

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Runner's diarrhea is a condition that often affects distance runners characterized by an urgent need for a bowel movement mid-run.


The causes of runner's diarrhea remain under debate, although several theories include ischemia and mechanical trauma. The reduced incidence of diarrhea in cyclists would indicate the latter.[1] Diet is often cited as a common cause of diarrhea in distance runners, particularly with meals including berries and dried fruit.[citation needed]

Treatment and prevention[edit]

Runner's diarrhea will normally clear up by itself from several hours to two days after running. As with all forms of diarrhea, replacement of fluids and electrolytes is advisable. Methods to prevent runner's diarrhea will vary between individuals, although it is advisable to consider examining the pre-running diet to determine potential trigger foods.[citation needed]

Notable cases[edit]

At the 1998 London Marathon, winner Catherina McKiernan suffered from recurrent diarrhea during the race.[2]

At the 2005 London Marathon, winner Paula Radcliffe, in desperate need for a toilet break during the race, stopped by the road in full view of the crowd and live TV cameras and defecated. She later blamed a meal of grilled salmon from the previous night for the incident.[3]

At the 2008 Göteborgsvarvet half marathon, Mikael Ekvall finished the race in 21st place in spite of being covered in his own feces. A reporter asked him if he had ever considered stopping to clean off. He explained: "No, I'd lose time. […] If you quit once, it's easy to do it again and again and again. It becomes a habit."[4]

At the 2016 Summer Olympics – Men's 50 kilometres walk, Yohann Diniz led the race, but due to gastrointestinal issues, he fainted multiple times midrace. Nevertheless, he was able to recover and finished in 8th place, six minutes behind the winner Matej Tóth.[5]

At the 2019 Perm International Marathon, Alexander Novikov [ru] finished first despite suffering from a bout of diarrhea, which left his clothes sodden.[6]


  1. ^ Halvorsen, F A; Lyng, J; Glomsaker, T; Ritland, S (1990). "Gastrointestinal disturbances in marathon runners". British Journal of Sports Medicine. 24 (4): 266–8. doi:10.1136/bjsm.24.4.266. PMC 1478906. PMID 2097027.
  2. ^ "McKiernan answers the call for McColgan". The Herald. 26 April 1998. Retrieved 2019-09-12.
  3. ^ Innes, John (April 18, 2005). "Relief all round after Paula pauses on road to glory". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 2011-05-22.
  4. ^ Hathaway, Jay (23 January 2015). "What Happened to the Runner Who Shit Himself During a Half-Marathon?". Gawker. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  5. ^ Augustine, Bernie (19 August 2016). "It looks like French race walker Yohann Diniz pooped his pants mid-race at the Olympics". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2019-09-12.
  6. ^ "Российский чемпион в фекалиях выиграл международный марафон". Obozrevatel (in Russian). 11 September 2019. Retrieved 2019-09-12.