Toi­let bus aids marathon run­ners

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By SUN XIAOCHEN and SUN LI in Xi­a­men, Fujian

What helped Zhao Wen­hui, a stu­dent run­ner from Pek­ing Univer­sity, stay fo­cused on rac­ing dur­ing the 42.195-kilo­me­ter course of the Xi­a­men In­ter­na­tional Marathon on Thurs­day wasn’t his pre-race plan or sup­port from the crowd.

It was a bus equipped with mo­bile toi­lets that fol­lowed the main group of run­ners.

“It re­ally ad­dressed our spe­cific con­cerns of find­ing a proper place to uri­nate in the mid­dle of the race as quickly as we could while not get­ting caught by pub­lic eyes or me­dia cam­eras,” Zhao, who also par­tic­i­pated in last year’s Bei­jing In­ter­na­tional Marathon, told China Daily. “At least I didn’t see the em­bar­rass­ing scenes from Bei­jing hap­pen here.”

The Bei­jing marathon, which at­tracted more than 35,000 par­tic­i­pants on Oct 20, saw its rep­u­ta­tion tar­nished by the is­sue.

Af­ter the race, pho­tos of male run­ners, both Chi­nese and from over­seas, uri­nat­ing against the out­side walls of the Palace Mu­seum along Chang’an Av­enue caused an uproar on ma­jor news por­tals and so­cial me­dia.

Pub­lic opin­ion was di­vided, with some crit­i­ciz­ing the run­ners, say­ing uri­nat­ing on a cul­tural her­itage site in pub­lic was un­ac­cept­able, while oth­ers blamed a lack of tem­po­rary toi­lets at the mas­sive event.

Al­though he ad­mit­ted that the sit­u­a­tion looked em­bar­rass­ing, Zhao said it was un­fair to blame the run­ners, as long wait­ing times to use the avail­able toi­lets would af­fect their race times.

To pre­vent sim­i­lar scenes from hap­pen­ing in Xi­a­men, where more than 24,000 run­ners took part in the full marathon, the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee pre­pared 320 tem­po­rary toi­lets, 20 more than avail­able in Bei­jing, and ar­ranged them evenly along the course in ad­di­tion to the mo­bile-toi­let bus.

All the per­ma­nent pub­lic toi­lets along the route and around the start­ing and fin­ish­ing points were also re­quired to open in ad­vance.

“We saw some run­ners wait­ing out­side the toi­lets but we never saw them an­swer­ing the call of na­ture in pub­lic,” said Li Lina, a spokes­woman for the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee and deputy di­rec­tor of the Xi­a­men Mu­nic­i­pal Sports Bureau.

“The in­crease of tem­po­rary toi­lets played a big part in solv­ing the prob­lem,” she said.

Af­ter the Bei­jing marathon, or­ga­niz­ers of ma­jor events have been urged to en­sure they pro­vide at least one tem­po­rary toi­let for ev­ery 70 peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to a reg­u­la­tion an­nounced by the Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal Com­mis­sion of City Ad­min­is­tra­tion and En­vi­ron­ment in Novem­ber.

The com­mis­sion also em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of pro­vid­ing di­rec­tions to and signs for toi­lets and clean­ing them up soon af­ter the event.

Gu Bin, pres­i­dent of Run­ning Bar, a na­tion­wide am­a­teur run­ners’ club, said pub­lic uri­na­tion is part of marathon run­ning.

“Uri­nat­ing out­side of toi­lets is com­monly seen at marathons any­where around the world, as it has been part of the sport. It’s no big deal,” said Gu, who has par­tic­i­pated in many marathons in other coun­tries. “Though it seemed in­ap­pro­pri­ate to pee on the fa­mous wall, it’s ac­cept­able to find some­where with cover, like in a bush or at a cor­ner.

“You will never have enough

Uri­nat­ing out­side of toi­lets is com­monly seen at marathons any­where around the world, as it has been part of the sport. It’s no big deal.” GU BIN PRES­I­DENT OF RUN­NING BAR, AN AM­A­TEUR RUN­NERS’ CLUB

toi­lets that eas­ily meet the de­mand of tens of thou­sands of peo­ple. It’s not worth do­ing that, given the huge ex­pense of pro­duc­ing and trans­port­ing them once ev­ery year.”

Cit­ing the ex­am­ple of the Seoul In­ter­na­tional Marathon, Gu sug­gested Chi­nese or­ga­niz­ers use the toi­let fa­cil­i­ties of of­fice build­ings and depart­ment stores along the route.

En­de­shaw Negesse, an Ethiopian run­ner who com­peted at Xi­a­men for the first time, echoed Gu.

“If it hap­pens to ath­letes dur­ing the race, it’s just hu­man in­stinct. If there is no op­por­tu­nity (to use a toi­let), just use any­where pos­si­ble and no­body gets blamed. Every­body would do the same ac­cord­ing to my ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said through a trans­la­tor.

Zhou Qinlu, a mass fit­ness re­searcher at the Bei­jing In­sti­tute of Sports Sci­ence, sug­gested run­ners uri­nate be­fore the race whether they feel they need to or not, and to limit their wa­ter in­take at ev­ery sup­ply point dur­ing the race. Con­tact the writ­ers at sunx­i­aochen@chi­nadaily. and sunli@chi­nadaily.


Xi­a­men In­ter­na­tional Marathon, the first ma­jor marathon of 2014, gets un­der­way. The an­nual event at­tracted thou­sands of run­ners from 45 coun­tries and re­gions to the is­land city in Fujian prov­ince on Thurs­day.

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