How to Use a Portable Toilet During a Race

Porta-potty, port-a-john, port-a-san, port-a-loo -- whatever you want to call it, there's no way to make a portable toilet sound more appealing. But, if you're a runner who enjoys road racing, using the porta-potties is pretty unavoidable.

At the start of a race, especially a big one like a marathon, your pre-race hydration efforts may cause several trips to the porta-potty. If you've never used a portable toilet before and you're wondering what to expect, here are some tips.

Look Around for Undiscovered Portable Toilets

line of portable toilets
David Zimmerman/Getty Images

If you're at the start of a big race and there are huge lines for portable toilets, don't assume that the toilets with the long lines are the only ones available.

Scan the starting area and see if there are others. Sometimes you can find another set of toilets with much shorter lines because people haven't discovered them yet. You'll save time waiting in line and you'll also find a cleaner, better-stocked porta-potty.

Don't Wait Until the Last Minute

Even if you think you don't really have to go to the bathroom just yet, get in line anyway. The wait can be longer than you think, and you don't want to risk missing the start of the race.

Be Prepared With Your Own Supplies

Porta-potties usually start out fully-stocked with plenty of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, but they inevitably run out. Bring your own toilet paper and a small bottle of hand sanitizer, so you're prepared, just in case.

You'll be able to check your extra supplies in your race bag at the start (or you could always leave them in a porta-potty for the next runners).

Pick the Line With the Most Men In It

It may not always be the case, but men tend to be in and out of restrooms more quickly than women. Find a line with more men than women in it, and it's likely to move faster.

Don't Forget to Lock the Door

To avoid getting caught with your pants (or shorts) down, turn around and lock the door, as soon as you step into the porta-potty. If other runners see that a porta-potty door is unlocked, they'll try to open it without knocking first.

Use the Hover Method

Many women have already mastered the art of hovering (not fully sitting on the toilet seat) when using public bathrooms. Whether it's the pre-race nerves or poor lighting, people tend to have ​worse aim in porta-potties at races.

So, if ever you wanted to start hovering over the toilet seat, now's a good time to give it a try. Most porta-potties don't have those sanitary toilet seat covers.

Hold the Handle for Balance If Needed

Most porta-potties have a handle on the back of the door that you can hold onto. This will help you keep your balance when using the hover method.

Make Sure You Have Everything Before Leaving

Many people are in such a rush to get out of a porta-potty that they leave behind something important, like their running sunglasses.

By the time you realize you never picked up your stuff off the floor, it may be impossible to figure out which porta-potty you were actually in. 

Was this page helpful?