I love everything about running. I love the way running makes me feel alive. I love the way it makes me feel strong, and capable. I love the lumo kit. I love the super bling shoes. I love running with my friends so we can vent about the small stuff and get it out our systems before it becomes big stuff. I love running alone, so I can lose myself in my music. Sure, I love finishing a run. But I also genuinely love running the run. Even when I feel like I don’t. Last week, I even loved running in the rain.
But there is one thing about running that I don’t love.
Don’t panic, I’m not going to go into detail about runners’ bowels. This is more a comment on the bowls than the bowels. And rather about there being too little, than too much.
Why, oh why, do race organisers never provide enough loos?
And why, in the name of everything that is holy, would they exacerbate this situation by providing a coffee cart at the start of a race?
It’s like they’re trying to create the perfect storm:
Coffee + Running + Insufficient Bog Supply
It’s a Shit Storm waiting to happen.
Sure, the race organisers would claim that it’s not their fault. Like the drug dealers. You could say no to the coffee. I’m guessing most runners do. But me? I never say no to the coffee. In this respect, you could almost mistake me for a cyclist.
And so it was that before the start of my most recent half marathon, I drank a cup of coffee. My running mate sighed deeply. She knew the consequences. So did I. But it was coffee. So I drank it. I even had to borrow money to buy it. I truly am an archetypal addict.
(Somewhere at the back of my mind, I was reasoning that the caffeine effect would more than make up for the diuretic effect. But no such luck.)
Fortunately for me, the result was less of a shit storm than it was a storm in a pee cup. But it was a storm nonetheless. By the 3km mark, I needed to pee.
And because I am woman and not man, I cannot simply stop on the pavement, turn my back, whip it out and relieve myself. And yes, I am jealous of not being able to pee standing up.
Having been in a similar situation before, I knew to avoid the Porta-loos en route. One, because there are never enough, and so there is always a queue. And two, because there are never enough, and so they’re just not pretty. And they don’t smell pretty either. And there is never any bog roll.
(As an aside, I have to add that South African Porta-loos are way prettier than the Porta-loos we encountered in New York. Which are basically long drops, except that the drop is short. And there are some things, once seen, that cannot be unseen.)
So I veered into a garage. The attendants pointed me round the back. Two toilets, one locked, one occupied. I breathed a sigh of relief. This wouldn’t take long. Just one guy… There might even be bog roll!
Unfortunately, this One Guy had clearly also succumbed to the coffee. And, judging by the length of time it took for him to emerge, this was no storm in a pee cup. It took three flushes, and five minutes. Which in running minutes is the difference between being able to catch your running mate in time to actually run with her, and only catching her in time to finish together.
The next 15km are a bit of a blur. I can’t even remember if there was bog roll.
Like a good addict, I feel a degree of shame about my inability to Just Say No. But probably not so much that I’d be able to resist it the next time around.
After all, we did manage to finish in a pretty good time. I’m thinking the caffeine did work!
My suggested solution to the organisers is simple: Bring the coffee. We love the coffee. But don’t forget the consequences of the coffee. #toiletsforall