Porta-Potty Essentials for Race Directors: Number, Placement & Rules for Runners

Porta-potty Essentials for Race Directors: Number, Placement & Rules for Runners

Every runner knows that a smooth race starts with a smooth pre-race ritual. And every race director knows that participants who have a great experience at their events are more likely to return. So, today we’ll focus on a certain race element that deserves some extra attention: the porta-potty.

First of all, how many portable restrooms should you plan to have for your event? And where should they be located?

According to Road Race Management, calculating one porta-potty per 75-100 participants is a standard ratio, with the greater number applying to longer races. It’s also essential to evaluate the need for handicap facilities. When considering placement, a good rule of thumb is to situate portable restrooms adjacent to the start and finish lines within sight of the check-in area.

Next, we come to best practices for portable restroom use. From mess-makers to too-much-time-takers, rude runners can make the porta potty experience uncomfortable for everyone. There’s no official protocol, per se, but with the help of runners and experts, we came up with the following unofficial portable restroom etiquette guide.

Share these porta-potty rules for runners to ensure everyone is in-the-know when they’ve gotta go.

Be Courteous to Runners Racing First

In events with more than one race or distance, runners with earlier start times should be allowed to use the facilities first. Also, friends, family and other supporters should be encouraged to stay out of the toilet line–if possible–until after all the runners have taken off.

Don’t Get Distracted

The restroom line is not the place to tweet or take pre-race selfies. Pay attention to how the line is moving and be ready to enter the facility as soon as you reach the front of the line.

Step Aside for Emergencies

When it’s obvious a runner’s bladder is screaming for relief or they are experiencing an urgent situation of any sort, they should be permitted to cut the line.

Close & Lock the Door

It may seem as though this rule should go without saying, but runners are always in a hurry. Remember to close the toilet door securely and engage the lock so that others know it’s occupied.

Be Quick

A porta-potty is not a phone booth or a reading room. Once inside, runners should take care of business, so to speak, and then make the toilet available to the next person in line.

Mind the Mess

Portable restrooms will inevitably become increasingly dirty as runners use them throughout the event, but a little effort goes a long way toward keeping them bearable. Users should wipe down the seat, lid or floor in the case of splashes or spills. Also, holes should never be used as trash cans for wrappers, bottles and other garbage, which makes cleaning the facility harder for the supplier’s employees–as if their job isn’t hard enough.

Clean Your Hands

In the case of portable restrooms, soap and water aren’t always an option. They are often equipped with hand sanitizer instead, and many runners will also carry their own. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.

Alert Staff When Porta-Potty Needs Attention

In addition to regular restroom check-ins from your team, participants should alert staff or volunteers when toilet paper needs to be refilled or if a portable restroom requires an emergency cleaning. Consider preparing a “Temporarily Out of Order” sign to have at-the-ready when necessary.

In this video, Dave McGillivray, President of DMSE Sports and Race Director of the Boston Marathon, sits down with us to discuss setting important race day standards.