The topic runners DON’T talk about

If there’s one thing runners like to do, it’s talk about running. Our PB’s, our running kits, our races, even our niggles and pains. But there’s one topic we never talk about: Portaloos! The ironic thing is that I’m sure we all have our horror stories to tell…

Here are my top 3 portaloo experiences I’m trying to forget:

1. Two Oceans 2011. We had parked the car and I spotted a lonely portaloo standing near to where we had parked. Bonus! I would not need to queue! There wasn’t much light as it was still chilly and dark and I ran in first. The smell hit me. It was putrid! I could hardly breathe. But in my haste, I was already seated and had to get the ‘job’ done. It was only after we had finished the race and made our way back to the car that I saw that the portaloo that I had used was in fact not one for the race but one used by builders on site. In the daylight, I realised just how filthy it was. It looked as if it had stood there for weeks. *no words*

2. Om-Die-Dam 2011. At the 18km mark of the half marathon, I desperately needed the loo so I hopped in to one of the portaloos at the water point. After finishing up, I could not open the door. It was wedged closed and the lock would not open. I pushed and pulled, starting to get quite frantic. I was eventually able to pull it open, but it cut my finger which started to bleed. Without thinking, I put my finger in my mouth to soothe and suck it only to realise a split second later that my hand was most probably full of disgusting germs and I was doomed to get sick. I remember busting out crying.

3. Remax 2012. Sitting on the loo, I thought I’d send a quick early morning tweet to wish my fellow runners good luck with their races (this is not the time to judge me!). I had forgotten to lock the door and a runner pulled the door open, saw me, but then walked off, not closing the door. Here I sat, fully exposed, on the loo, pants down, with my phone in my hand in full view of the queue of runners. I had to then gracefully, stand up, and lean forward to grab the door to close it. I wanted to die. I think a part of me did…

It’s funny that after chatting to marathon runner @tanyakovarsky, I realised that I’m not alone in hating portaloos. In fact, after running x9 Comrades races and recently becoming a Two Oceans 56km blue number, she still hates them and has even shared some of her tips of avoiding the dreaded portaloos with me which I plan to use on my future runs.

Tip number one: Don’t use the portaloo unless it’s a matter of life or death!

5 thoughts on “The topic runners DON’T talk about

  1. After 10 yrs of running and we talking every weekend I have many memories that I rather not have of portaloos and no loos at all. Worst was an ultra marathon on the east coast, there were 6 portaloos at the start, each had a pile higher than the rim of the loo, instant gag…..nobody knew how to flush ???? Yeah it is stuff that runners dont talk about.


  2. Eeeuuuw! I’m not a runner but I’ve been subjected to portaloo’s at a number of live concerts and truth be told I would much prefer to find a deserted bush that use one of the stinky dirty portaloo’s.


  3. I too hate those Portaloos. They are disgusting but I must admit, the last race I did, the Medihelp one, the Portaloos was cleaned every 5 minutes. Cleaners stood there at the Portaloos and I could see how they cleaned every toilet every 5 minutes. So I can give that too Medihelp organizers.


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