Tag Archives: porta-potty

Leap Day Race: A Pisser of a Problem


Shakespeare three inch fool meme

So, which type of story would my loyal readers prefer regarding last Monday’s Leap Day 4-mile race – another standard recap where I set a new PR, win a medal, impress the spectators, etc. etc.? Or whether I avoided an imminent biological emergency with nine hundred other runners and the cops watching?

Yeah, I thought so.

You have been warned.

The aforementioned loyal readers are aware that I face a certain challenge at races, namely that my kidneys helpfully kick into overdrive before the start. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a 5K, a half marathon, or a 12+ hour 50-mile trail ultra. Or how many times I have run the race before. Or how carefully I manage my liquids and visit the facilities. Before the start of a race, I need to pee. Sometimes often.

This situation has led to some interesting moments, such as when I ducked into the porta-john at the Martian half marathon one year, and emerged to find that the race had started and everyone was already gone. Or having to pull off the trail every 15 minutes in my first 50K (thank goodness it was dark). But I achieved notoriety with the 2014 Scrumpy Skeddadle, which began as a near-disaster but in the end (yes) resulted in a private porta-potty the following year. You can read the 2014 story here and my 2015 story here.

I arrived at the metropark an hour before the 6:30 p.m. race start. The facility has rest rooms, but they were closed, and a grand total of six (6) porta-johns were available. Fortunately the line was short, and five minutes later things were taken care of.

Congratulating myself on getting there so early, I began my warmup routine; dynamic stretches followed by a one-mile easy jog, then two minutes at half marathon pace, and finishing with four 100-yard sprints. Thus sufficiently warm and revved up, I was ready to race.

Except for one thing.

Yep, with fifteen minutes before start, I felt the need again. And this time the line for the porta-johns was – well – long.

Long line for the Porta-Johns

This shows just part of the line. You can just see the porta-potties in the center.

What to do? This was a park, and in the summer it would have been easy to duck into the woods. But in the middle of winter the trees are bare, and I was wearing clearly visible running gear. Plus the park police (God bless ’em) were out in force directing traffic and keeping us runners safe. I figured they wouldn’t take kindly to someone doing his business in public, and I sure didn’t want to find out. The last thing I wanted to do was cause a spectacle, get kicked out of the race, and have the organizers get in trouble. So I decided to try and hold it. Once the race started, perhaps my body would have other things to concentrate on.

At the starting line, trying to hold it together.

At the starting line, trying to hold it together.

But 6:30 came and went, with no start. The announcer told us they were making sure all the traffic was off the course. He tried to distract us a bit. “Who ran this race four years ago?” he asked. “Who brought a friend?”

“Who wants to get this race started?” said someone near me.

Who wants the porta-john line to get shorter, I thought.

Now my need was getting more urgent, and there was no word on the new start time. If only I had a bottle or something, I thought. Then I had an idea. I peered into a nearby garbage barrel, and there at the bottom was a lidded cup from a coffee chain, which I will avoid naming to prevent undue association with their product.

I reached down into the barrel and retrieved the cup. Then I walked to my car. I was parked far enough away that I had a chance of privacy in there. But as I got into the Jeep I noticed someone sitting in the car next to mine. What the heck? The race was about to start. But there he was, and he was looking around every so often.

Well, with him there I just couldn’t go through with it. So I went back to the starting line, feeling the pressure even more. And, of course, the more you try not to think about something, – well, you know the drill.

“Another eight minutes,” the announcer said.

I took another look at the porta-potty queue. Still long – more than eight minutes long. I screwed up what resolve I had left and marched back to the car. Somehow, some way, this was gonna happen.

The guy in the car next to mine was still there, as were the park police not too far away. But I had a plan. I opened the driver’s door and stood right up against it. Then I put the cup in my left hand and made the necessary wardrobe adjustment with my right. My jacket covered my right hand, so nothing was visible, not even to me. Thus shielded, I overcame inhibition and with a little effort was able to relieve myself sufficiently.

Now, what to do with the cup? Pouring it out in the parking lot was not an option. So I put the lid on and set it in the cupholder. Then I headed back to the starting line. No one said a word or looked at me funny. I’d managed to – shall we say – pull it out and pull it off.

Oh, and the race? I did set a four-mile PR (26:32) and won a medal (second place in age group). As for the admiration of spectators, well, if anyone observed my dilemma and its resolution, they admired me in secret. As would I have done with them.

This race was also known as the "Night of the Glow". The medal glows, too!

This race was also known as the “Night of the Glow”. The medal glows, too!

Does anyone out there have a similar story of a bladder-induced “situation” and is willing to share it? Space here awaits you!

Scrumpy Skedaddle Recap: The V.I.P. “Inside” Report

Last Sunday was the second annual Scrumpy Skedaddle at Almar Orchards. Hard to believe it’s been a year since the notorious happenings of 2014! But there I was, with a couple thousand of my best friends, lining up for a sprint through the orchard on a brisk fall day. Overcast and drizzly? Who cared? This was gonna be fun!

Scrumpy - 10K Run

The 10K takes over the orchard.

Last year’s Skedaddle, as has been related on this blog, had issues with long lines for the porta-potties and the cider and pancakes after the race. I’m happy to report there were big improvements this year, with shorter lines, a much better course layout, and the addition of the 10K and the two-race “Cider Slam” – which, of course, I just had to do. Along with Run Woodstock, the Skedaddle is becoming one of my favorite events – and you all know I’ve run a lot of events.

The 5K and 10K both started out on dirt roads, then into the orchard on wide grassy strips between rows of apple trees. It gave the run a feeling of intimacy, even of exclusiveness, despite the large number of runners. It had the best features of a trail run without the hazards of rocks and roots.

Scrumpy - Running in the Orchard 2

The Head Goat (orange jacket) directs traffic.

Randy of Running Fit Events (orange jacket), a.k.a. “The Head Goat”, directs traffic.

I ran the 5K hard – not my best time, but solid. And the top four age 50-59 runners (which included me) beat all but one of the 40-49 group. We rock! Then I ran the 10K easy, which is why you see these photos of the course. What a contrast! Instead of focusing on my breathing and pace, I could relax and take in the scene around me, just running for the fun of it.

2015 Scrumpy - Post-race Cider

I could have done this all afternoon.

Like last year, the post-race food was excellent. They moved the pancake production outside, with two lines, so everything flowed smoothly. The live band was a nice touch, too. And the hard cider on tap was amazing; not too sweet, with just a touch of tartness from the mild fermentation. Scrumpy in the bottle is good, but this is unbelievably good. And they do it just for this event.

Can I have one of these installed in my man cave, please?

Could I have one of these installed in my man cave, please?

And finally, what I know you’ve all been waiting for: what was the VIP potty like? Well, here you go!

The outside.

The outside.

The magic pass that got you in the short line!

The magic pass that got you in the short line!

Happy passholders. (And note the guy on the far right who'd like to know why he's in the LONG lines.

Happy passholders. (And note the guy on the far right who’s not too happy about being in the LONG lines. Hey, it’s all about who you know, fella!)

And as a special bonus, exclusively for my readers: the INSIDE VIEW!

VIP Potty - inside

Loaded with amenities.

Reading material!

Reading material!

Specially printed toilet paper!

Specially printed toilet paper!

Will I be back for 2016? You bet, VIP or not. And you all should come along. Even if you’re not a dedicated runner, you’ll have a good time. It’s a cider mill, after all. How could you not have a good time? See you there!

A V.I.P. What? You’re Sh**ting Me

IT ALL STARTED WHEN I broke one of my cardinal rules on race day. And now just look where it’s taken me. I suppose I should be honored to receive a V.I.P. of anything. But this? Well, read on and judge for yourself.

Scrumpy Bottle with Finishers MugThe Scrumpy Skeddadle is the final event of the Thirsty Three, a set of Running Fit Events races linked with certain beverages. “Scrumpy” is a Scottish term for hard cider, and Almar Orchards makes a brand of cider known as J. K. Scrumpy’s. The first-ever Skeddadle took place at the Almar Orchards cider mill in October, 2014, and there I took the fateful steps toward what is possibly a first-ever event in running.

The trigger was my decision to have a cup of coffee on race morning. I never do this because it has digestive consequences that would be very inconvenient during a run. But the Scrumpy began at 10:00 a.m. and I was up before 7:00, so I figured I was safe.

But as I drove to the orchard in Flushing (*) I began to feel the need, so to speak. By the time I parked, the need was becoming urgent. I went into the store and headed for the bathrooms. Locked. Due to the large crowds, I suppose, everyone had to use the porta-potties. And with over 2,200 people there, the lines were long.

This is from Hightail to Ale, but you get the idea.

This is from Hightail to Ale. Scrumpy’s lines were, shall we say, a bit longer.

You can read more about what happened here, in last year’s post on the subject. All I will say here is that I was not in my happy place, and I took it out on the poor longsuffering race staff. Turned out I was not the only one with this complaint (**) but perhaps I was the only one to hear about it later from the poor longsuffering race staff.

Determined to make amends, I delivered some flowers to them after the race with a vase of my own design:

Flowers in Porta Potty Vase

I wrote on the card, “The next time people give you sh**, you can put it in this.”

The RF Events folks had a good laugh and posted it on their Facebook page. I figured that was the end of it, so to speak, although someone made an off-the-cuff comment that they oughta create an official porta-potty for me at some future race.

Fast forward to Run Woodstock two weeks ago. I was standing around waiting for the 100K race to start when Mandy, one of the RF Events staff, came up to me.

“I have some exciting news for you,” she said. “Do you want to hear it now, or after the race?”

“Oh, tell me now,” I said, not knowing what condition I’d be in fourteen hours later.

And she told me. And here it is:

The RunBikeThrow VIP Porta-Potty

Yes, the off-the-cuff remark actually came to pass. And my lucky readers can be a part of it!

Anyone reading this post who’s going to the 2015 Scrumpy on October 4 can share with me the exclusive right to use my V.I.P. facility. Just sign up for the race (5K or 10K), then email me at jeff(at)runbikethrow.net and ask for a pass. I have a limited number, so it’s first come, first serve.

I ask nothing in return. However, if you do get a pass, I would love it if you would consider making a donation to any Humane Society.

Here are some other good reasons to run the Scrumpy Skeddadle:

Scrumpy Skeddale Bottle Opener Finishers Medal* You get a finisher’s mug and it will be filled with hard cider on draft. And if you buy some of their bottled cider, you can use your finisher’s medal to open it!

* You get a pancake breakfast catered by Chris Cakes of Michigan. They’re known for flipping the pancakes onto your plate from several feet away. Worth it for the entertainment alone!

* The energy and excitement of a morning at the cider mill.

* Fresh air and exercise, and a fun run through their orchard. You can run the 5K, 10K, or, if you’re feeling up to it, run both and get a “Cider Slam” award.

Hope to see you there! If not, fear not – I will take plenty of photos. (From the outside.)


(*) No, the irony was not lost on me.

(**) Pun intended, of course. They always are.