Years after Swedish distance runner Mikael Ekvall crapped his shorts in the midst of a half-marathon, his photo still shows up on Facebook. You might've seen it with a "fail" caption or a demotivational poster—played-out viral image formats that were de rigueur at the time—or in any number of "world's most embarrassing photos" compilations. Clearly, people still haven't gotten over Ekvall's uncomfortable grimace and the liquified shit trickling down his legs.
Micke Ekvall seems to have gotten over it, though. The runner who was once saddled with the nickname "bajsmannen" ("poop man") finished that 2008 race, the Göteborg half-marathon, in 21st place. In a post-race interview, a reporter asked him, "Did you ever consider stopping to clean off?"
"No, I'd lose time," he explained, "If you quit once, it's easy to do it again and again and again. It becomes a habit."
"Despite the enormous problems with stomach cramps that lasted between two and 12 kilometers, Micke completed his goal," Swedish site Jesper.nu reported, "He did fine with [a time of] 1:09:43 and came in a creditable 21st. This is despite the misery! Imagine what he could accomplish without a bad stomach."
The poop man, now 25 years old, has accomplished quite a bit since then. He ran the same race the following year, placing 9th. He went on to set a Swedish national record at the Copenhagen half-marathon in 2014, and represented Sweden at the European Athletic Championships.
Ekvall's story is truly an inspirational one: Never quit. If you can live down running around in public with your own feces streaming off your bare legs, you can live down practically anything. Either that or never, ever, leave the house, because anything you do could go horribly wrong and everyone is looking at you.
Whatever. It's up to each of us to receive the poop man's wisdom in our own way.
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