Add Chris Johnson to the prolific runner list

Chris Johnson winning a 5k trail/cross country race with 850 entrants, placing 43rd overall and beating all men over 55.

I’ve known the runner in that photo since approximately 1983. That’s when we both were racing consistently on the Chicago area runner’s circuit. On many a weekend in all sorts of seasons, we’d step to the line together and give each other a knowing nod.

Chris has run nearly 80,000 miles in his career, often winning age group categories at distances from the 5K all the way up to the marathon, where his travels often took him out Kansas way.

He’s also an astute observer of nature, and once in a while we’ll cross paths while running or cycling and we’ll stop to share some rare or interesting bird we’ve seen. But Chris also knows plants well, and he’s good at sharing which species are blooming with particular verve in spring and summer.

Vegetation wipes

Recently I wrote a blog on the subject of dealing with gastrointestinal issues while out running. Most of the restrooms on our local trails are closed. So we’ve all been forced to squat and wipe with whatever material is available.

And obviously, if one feels the urge to “go” yet forgets to bring along toilet paper, it helps to know the local flora well enough to avoid wiping with something that can harm your hinterparts, or more.

Chris happens to be quite educated on the plant world. He caught up with me last Saturday during a run and explained that I’d missed a few good options among plants suitable for ass-wiping. Chris ass-ured me these are unisex alternatives.

This is burdock. It has big ass leaves as you can see. Their texture tends to be smooth, for the most part. That avoids the scratchy feeling that can give you the creeps. Plus you can see pretty well whether there are bugs on the leaves, which I’m sure you’d rather avoid.

As Chris noted on the photo above, “Common Burdock, which comes in two nearly identical varieties, is my first choice for body wiping. Slightly astringent and with a pleasant odor it is slightly rough to the touch. Burdock is especially good for wiping dirty and grimy hands.”

Here’s a photo of a single burdock leaf.

A single burdock leaf. Nature’s own toilet paper.

Chris also notes that Wild Grape has beneficial qualities for ass-wiping.

While beautiful in shape, wild grape leaves are also wide enough to avoid behind the back accidents.

Chris notes: Wild Grape leaves, or River Grape as it is known in our area, are a good choice for wiping or wrapping human skin. The grapes themselves have a very large seed and are barely worth the effort to eat. Here’s a closer look at the leaves.

The best thing about wild grape leaves is they are plentiful on the vine and thus easily accessible.

Wild lettuces are also an excellent source of ass wipeage material. Look at the height on that thing! You could toss a salad with that!

It doesn’t look that wild, but lettuce like this does appear in the woods.

Chris explains: “Among the many varieties of wild lettuces in our area Tall White Lettuce is a majestic plant growing up to eight feet tall. Take that Iceberg, Romaine, and Swiss Chard! While the leaves of this plant are bitter to the taste it can be used safely for wiping bloody scrapes, wrapping your onions and wild leeks, or for pit stop clean ups. Plants to be avoided for pit stops include poison ivy, poke weed, and everything in the milkweed family.

This is a form of milkweed. Monarch butterflies like to lay their eggs on it, so please don’t pluck the leaves and wipe your ass. Plus there is a sticky sap that looks like milk and sticks like Gorilla glue. Be warned.

To that last warning I can testify. Wiping with milkweed leaves a sticky residue on your buttocks. If left untended, that could permanently (not really) seal your butt cheeks together. Best avoid that problem. Here’s another wild lettuce picture to remind you of a much better alternative.

Look at those ridges! Perfect for handling poop of any texture.

So there you have it. An Encyclopedia of Ass-Wiping Plants. Chris even provided the proper Latin names in his emails. If you want those for scientific reference and corroboration, you’ll have to write me a request. I was too lazy to copy and paste them all here.

Yes, Chris Johnson and I have covered some miles and years together. That’s why we’re both so great at sharing information like this for all of you. May you have merry trails ahead of you, but it you have to take a dump, may you find these plants readily available. You’re welcome.

About Christopher Cudworth

Christopher Cudworth is a content producer, writer and blogger with more than 25 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing, journalism, public relations and social media. Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @genesisfix07 and blogs at, and Online portfolio:
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