Home > The Scene

“Poopgate” continues as Arizona high school bans track use

The professional runner who defecated under the bleachers is staying silent to avoid possible charges

Photo by: Marley Dickinson

A month before the World Indoor Championships in Serbia, rumours are swirling a week after human feces was found under the bleachers at the Red Rock High School track in Sedona, Ariz., which has resulted in a ban on public use.

Note: The photos in this story were taken by the author in 2019. The runners pictured were not responsible for the current situation.

The track facility at Red Rock High School in Sedona (taken in 2019). Photo: Marley Dickinson

The discovery was made in early February, as several teams made the trip to Flagstaff, Ariz. to experience high-altitude training before their indoor seasons. Sedona, a popular tourist destination, is a 40-minute drive south of Flagstaff. Runners will often do their speed training in Sedona, which is at approximately 800m lower altitude than Flagstaff. After their workout, they will head back to Flagstaff to sleep at a high altitude, which helps strengthen their red-blood-cell count.

There has been plenty of buzz and finger-pointing on social media about the ghost pooper’s identity, using the hashtag #poopgate. The Internet managed to narrow it down to two teams who visited the track during that time: Bowerman TC and CAUL (Club d’athlétisme de l’Université Laval), out of Quebec City. We spoke with several sources on both teams, who preferred to remain anonymous.

“Bowerman TC was the first team to arrive at the track on the day,” one CAUL member says. “They were finishing their warmup as we arrived.”

According to an anonymous pro runner in Flagstaff, Bowerman TC made several trips to train at the Sedona track before the incident took place. “The speculation has been a lot of pointing back and forth between Bowerman and us,” another CAUL member told us.

But according to local running coach James McKirdy, this wasn’t the first time feces has been seen on the track. And according to a New York Times article, high school officials have commonly found toilet paper on the Red Rock track.

“I spoke with a school official and they are banning everyone from track use,” McKirdy said via Twitter. “Professional athletes do not have the right to use the track during school hours or the right to defecate on it.”

A group of runners training at Red Rock High School in 2019. Photo: Marley Dickinson

The track at Sedona Red Rock High is in a fenced area beside the baseball field in front of the school, facing Highway 89A. There are only two gates to enter the track from the east and west side, while the school and washrooms sit to the south. The washrooms are a fair distance–about a five-minute walk or a two-minute run–from the track.

“I feel like if the CAUL group did it … they would own up to it,” a CAUL runner said. “The Quebec boys frequently get themselves in situations like this.”

Currently, the runner behind #poopgate is staying silent, as pundits are speculating they could face a lawsuit by the school board, as well as public defecation charges in the state of Arizona. Some things are best kept under wraps.