By Jennifer Walker
I’d like to thank the unsung heroes of the trails I run on every day. No, not the park rangers. They get enough admiration with those high-paying jobs of theirs. I’m talking about all those thoughtful folks who leave bags of dog poop on the trails.
Some of you might be reading this and thinking, “Wow, it’s about time someone thanked me for my efforts,” and you’re right. I am that person; this is that moment. As an avid trail runner, I think it’s important—nay, necessary—to not only send my warmest regards to you, but to also specifically point out what each of your contributions has done to help improve my running game.
First, training on technical trails is crucial when preparing for tough races, but not all of us are lucky enough to live near the rocky, root-covered terrain we’ll be competing on. However, having to constantly leap over and nimbly sidestep dozens of your purposefully placed poo parcels, I’m now equipped with the skills I need to remain light on my feet.
The fear alone of accidentally falling into a bag of doggie doo is enough to keep me alert and agile. Occasionally, I’ll hear a fellow trail runner complain about having to navigate the seemingly endless stream of baggies, but I see it as a win as I’m forced to concentrate even harder on proper footing. A single misstep could send me stumbling into one of your cleverly planted crap bags and derail my race season with a nasty case of pinkeye. Alas, I’m more mindful than ever, and it’s all thanks to you considerate citizens.
Second, as a female runner who is often out on the trails alone, I tend to find comfort in each sack of stool I pass. Not only are those little green bags helping hone my running skills, but each is a sign of life: I’m not really alone out there. Moreover, if I feel unsafe or vulnerable to attack, I’m reassured knowing all I need to do is bend down, grab a bag, and voila! I have a ready-made poopy projectile perfect for launching at would-be enemies.
Third—and perhaps most importantly—you’ve inspired me, beautiful dog dung abandoners. If I’m out for a long run and the gels aren’t agreeing with me, I might find myself in an awkward situation where I have to hide my excrement under a rock. Sure, I could carry a shovel to dig a cat hole, but my pack is already laden with so much, and having to take out a cumbersome shovel would really slow me down. But now I’ve realized I can poop like your pooch! The bags are so small and light, they barely take up space in my pack. It’s the perfect solution to all my waste woes. But don’t worry, I promise to circle back and pick up my poop…if I remember. If not, I’ll ease my guilt knowing that little bag of poo is going to help train another runner just like me.