Lines of runners waiting to use portable toilets


It's race morning. Why have I woken up so thirsty? It couldn't be that giant plate of chips I ate last night to carb-load or the couple of beers I had to help relax myself, surely?

Oh well, the race starts at 09.30 and it's 6am now. Plenty of time to get some porridge down me and make sure I'm fully hydrated.

On the journey to the race now. Keep sipping at that bottle. Little and often is the key.

At the race, number collected and pinned to vest, warm up done. It's a mild day so I must stay hydrated.

I'll have a couple of sips now, hide the bottle behind that tree, run back and have a quick gulp before the race starts.

Hmm, my bladder is full. Oh well, if my body doesn't want all that liquid then it must mean I'm hydrated. Great. Where are those toilets?

OK, I'm no race organiser, but there are an expected 7,000 entries in this race, so who decided that 12 chemical toilets would do the job?

Tell you what, there's a tree over there that's sort of hidden from view, maybe I could nip over and...

But is it too exposed? I've got my race number on and could easily be identified and SHAMED at the start line. I can imagine the announcement now.

Hang on, those two guys are running off to those trees. That's it, I'm doing it.

A little dash over to a more-secluded area, a quick look around to make sure nobody's looking and unzip...

Oops, forgot about that children's playground. On second thoughts better just queue up for the toilets after all.

10 minutes of waiting in line and I'm all done. Oh, and I feel relieved. I feel free! I feel like I could run a....

Uh oh...

Despite eating the healthiest diet possible for the last week (OK, apart from that giant plate of chips) and scoffing down fourteen Immodium before I left the house, my stomach is now telling me there's no way it's going to manage 13.1 miles without a panic and possible lifelong embarassment (we've all seen that photo, haven't we?)

Back to the bloody queue which has now doubled in length.

Time's ticking by. Argh! Why aren't there more toilets? What idiot organised this event? Why is everybody taking so long? What can they possibly be doing in there? Everybody's starting to look a bit worried now, looking between their watches, the start line and the toilets. You can see them weighing up the options.

A few men run off to trees while the women look on annoyed, cursing their anatomy. Some people give up and risk a run to the start line. I can't do that now. I'm stuck. Five minutes until the start and I'm at the front of the queue now.

Finally, the guy who was ahead of me - and who I can only assume was using the chemical cabin to write his memoirs - exits the blue oblong. I race in, dry heave a few times, try and find a safe surface on which to place my water bottle (none exists), try and turn around (who decided THIS should be the dimensions of a chemical toilet?) and go about my business.

Time to flush. Well, I say flush, I mean yank that stupid lever as hard as I can only to effect a small dribble of blue liquid. Is that the same blue liquid they use in the nappy adverts? What's it made of?

No time for deep philosophical musings. I've got a race to run!

Two minutes left now. Still time. A quick squirt of soap on the hands, press the old foot pump for the water and... Argh, no water. Quickly wipe the soap off on my shorts (looks VERY dodgy), zoom out the door letting it slam REALLY loudly behind me, a quick glance at the face of the person next in line to see a mix of irritation and panic on their face (well, maybe they should have prepared better), and rush over to the start line.

Phew! Made it with 30 seconds to spare.

Wait, why is my bladder full? And why am I so thirsty?

Oh well, the race went well and everybody was really friendly afterwards. Unfortunately after all those congratulatory handshakes and scoffing down my complimentary flapjack I suddenly remember the lack of hand-washing facilities and feel a little ill.

Since writing this article I've developed a strange aversion to raspberry slushies*

* Hopefully you now have too