About 1.5 miles into the race, I came upon a group and smelled something really foul. Initially, I thought it was a dead animal; then I realized it was from someone very alive in front of me. Process of elimination led me to a very tall gentleman in his late 60s, maybe older. The stench grew stronger as the race intensified and no matter where I ran, I always seemed to be downwind from this guy with a major hygiene FAIL.
This was no regular body odor, and I kept gagging. I noticed everyone who came up behind him make a face and sometimes quietly, sometimes not let loose with comments like “Sweet Jesus!” and "Peeee-eeeew!" There came to be a wide berth around this fellow, but no one said anything to him directly. It was a polite crowd.
By mile 4, I was really starting to gag and also tiring of passing the guy only to be passed by him a few minutes later. I decided to slow slightly until the invisible plume of unpleasantness was well ahead of me. When I thought it was safe again, I sped back up.
Here’s what I think contributed to this man’s major funk:
- He most likely didn’t shower prior to the race. Everyone should, whether you normally do or not. One of the SDTC coaches just the day before explained that a pre-race shower not only makes you feel, look and smell fresh, but it loosens muscles and opens pores.
- He most likely didn’t use deodorant either. Remember, there’s a difference between deodorant and antiperspirant. Deodorants disguise odor; antiperspirants narrow the pores that produce sweat. Many products contain both now, but always check.
- He wore a technical shirt. Synthetic T-shirts are wonderful at wicking away moisture so you feel cooler; however, artificial fibers also hold in odors. Sometimes the smells do not come out in the wash either, which is why there are now products specifically designed to wash athletic wear.