A Southampton man has pledged to run the ABP Southampton Half Marathon dressed as a man sat on the loo to raise awareness of Crohn’s and Colitis.

His mission comes as Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week takes place this week.

Mike Sharpe, who suffers from ulcerative colitis himself, will take on the 13.1 mile run dressed in a specially made costume. In doing so, he hopes to break down the stigma associated with inflammatory bowel disease and raise hundreds of pounds for Crohn’s and Colitis UK.

The 57-year-old, who runs in the name of ‘Pooperman’, said: “There’s such a stigma attached to talking about diseases that affect our bowels and we need to change that. The more it’s a taboo subject, the less likely people are to speak up and visit their doctor. If you pick it up early you have a better chance of avoiding operations so it’s a no brainer that we should be doing all we can to encourage people to talk about it.”

Mike, from Netley, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2015 after suffering from stomach pains while on holiday. His condition was so severe that he had to have his large bowel removed – a procedure that took four hours and meant he had a stoma and had to wear an ostomy bag afterwards.

He went back under the knife a year later for reconstructive surgery and had another operation to remove the stoma five months later.

Thanks to the operations and careful management of his condition, Mike’s quality of life is hugely improved now. While he’s hit a few bumps in the road which have led him back to hospital, he can regularly be found out running around Southampton. Earlier this year he was back at his local Park Run the day after leaving hospital, where he was treated for a serious blockage.

“I enjoy running and won’t let it beat me,” he says. “I won’t give in to this disease.”

Mike says that part of his mission is also to inspire others with inflammatory disease and reassure them that a diagnosis doesn’t mean they can’t keep fit.

“Half of what I’m doing is to prove to people that you can still be active and do things when you have colitis. If I make one person feel better about wearing an ostomy bag or getting a diagnosis then I’ve done my job.”

It’s not the first time Mike has run in an unusual costume to raise awareness of colitis. He’s run the ABP Southampton Half Marathon for the last two years – once dressed as a toilet roll and once as a giant ostomy bag.

Organisers are so fond of Mike and his mission that they’ve presented him with a special race number for the next event – ‘No.2’. Race director Chris Rees said: “The verdict from our team is unanimous – Mike is an absolute legend. His dedication to running, particularly considering the medical challenges he’s faced, is second to none and we’re thrilled that he’s using our event to send an important message. He may be No.2 but he’s number one to us!”

Mike is training hard for the ABP Southampton Marathon, which takes place on May 5. To sponsor him visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/pooperman

To take part in the ABP Southampton Marathon, Half Marathon or 10k, visit www.abpsouthamptonhalf.co.uk