How Do Triathletes Go To The Bathroom While Racing? Tips and Tricks

There have been amusing and horrible stories about triathletes peeing or pooping their suit during a race; these rumors are probably true, but before you say eww! think about the months and efforts put into training for the race. Some triathletes are so determined to beat the cut-off that they won’t let something like a bathroom stop deter them.

In triathlon, the race is usually against time, but sometimes you find yourself racing against the call of nature.

Sometimes, the need to visit the bathroom can become so pressing that eventually, you have to make a bathroom stop. Remember, the race is against time, so each precious minute is very important to your success.

Imagine being in a forward motion for good 12 hours; staying hydrated is needful hence the fluid and energy drinks triathlete takes. While hydrating is good, you will be dehydrated at a point, and part of it comes with peeing or visiting the comforts room.

Eventually, if any triathlete falls into this situation where they need to visit a bathroom, how do they go about it? There are provisions for portable toilets or porta-potties in most triathlon races for athletes’ usage on race day. They are usually located 12-15 miles apart on a bike course and 1-1.5 miles apart on a run course.

However, the best advice for any athlete is to visit the bathroom before the race. Doing this will reduce your bathroom stop as you can easily hold off pee for the duration of the short race while you can always use the porta-potties on a long course. (source)

On a side note, check our post on Top 30 Newbie Triathlon Mistakes You Are Probably Doing!

While porta-potties are provided to conduct your business, some athletes take matters into their own hands by using the roadside for their bathroom stop while others conduct the deed in their suit and wash off with water.

Also check out our post on What To Wear For Any Triathlon? A Brief & Complete Guide

How Do Triathletes Go To The Bathroom While Racing? Tips & Tricks

Ways of Relieving Yourself During a Race

Although there are portable toilets which is the official provision for relieving yourself during a race (source), however, there are other methods of answering nature’s call.

Sometimes, these methods directly or indirectly violate some races’ rules; nevertheless, athletes still go ahead and do it anyway.

Not that athletes won’t like to use the portable toilet provided by race officials, it just happens that they save more time exploring these other options even though it violates some rules.

They can easily maintain their pace too. It is important for triathletes to figure out what works for them during training.

Portable Toilet

There are portable toilets provided by race officials and are found along the race route. Portable toilets are the perfect options for relieving yourself without worrying about violating any rules.

However, many athletes have complained that this particular option is time-consuming, especially when there is a long queue at the bathroom stop.

Porta-potties stations are usually found 15-20 miles apart on a bike course approximately 30 minutes apart if you are riding at the pace of 20 miles per hour. For the run course, they are located at 1-1.5 miles, approximately 7-15 minutes, depending on your speed. (Source)

Portable toilets are accessible to all triathletes to prevent them from using the course for relieving themselves, which is a good option that is agreeable with the rules.

Portable toilets are accessible to all triathletes to prevent them from using the course for relieving themselves, which is a good option that is agreeable with the rules.

Peeing on your Bike

As shocking and hilarious as it sounds, many triathletes consider this a good option because they claim it saves time. However, this method may cause you to violate the rules in some events.

While you may violate rules using this method, getting disqualified might be avoided if conducted discreetly, and this requires a lot of practice. Many professionals confessed to using this method to save time.

Using the Roadside

Roadside is another option, but this greatly violates rules. According to Jimmy Ricotello, an ironman official, there have been cases of citizens complaining about public nudity and urination from triathlete(source). He further revealed that, while it is against the rule to pee by the roadside, the rule is enforced based on circumstances.

Some percentage of the triathlete populace is at the age where it becomes difficult to hold their bladder.

If eventually, they need to relieve themselves and the portable toilet urgently is quite some distance away. Such an individual might find comfort in the bush, and whether he or she will be penalized is left for the head referee to decide.

However, the penalty may be avoided if it is done in a manner not offensive to anyone. Check out What Is A Penalty Box in Triathlon? And how to avoid it!

Will I be penalized for using the course as a bathroom stop?

Yes, you will! One recent news that has set the triathlon world agog is the story of a competitor disqualified for using the roadside as his bathroom stop during an ironman triathlon race (source).

It all boils down to the rules of the event. It cannot be overemphasized enough that getting to know the rules of any race is important.

For instance, A USAT rule states that “Public nudity at any time during the event is prohibited. Any violation of this Section shall result in a variable time penalty.” While an ironman guide state that “Avoid indecent exposure and public nudity at all times during an Event: Indecent exposure and public nudity may result in a disqualification” Note that in both rules, this act carries a penalty.

Whether you will be awarded a penalty or disqualification is left at the referee’s discretion because you can’t prevent such a biological process, and most times, they are unavoidable.

Is Urinating On My Bike While Racing A Violation?

Most people are not aware of this, but yes, it does! But like I said, officials understand that this is unavoidable, so whether you will be penalized is left at the referee to judge.

A USAT rule states that “All athletes must Conduct themselves in a manner that is not offensive in any way to fellow participants, spectators, officials or volunteers and is considered reasonable and acceptable in the community.

While some suggest peeing on your bike during a race to save time and the crazy queue that you sometimes meet in a bathroom stop, it should be conducted in a manner that is not offensive to your fellow triathletes; that is, you should be as discreet as possible.

How Do Women Triathlete Pee During a Race?

While men may find it easy to pee on a bike or in the bush, it is not quite easy for women to do the same. Well, you can always use the portable toilet, and you can also pee on your bike or use the roadside, depending on the gravity of the situation. As I said, an excellent way is to visit the toilet before starting any race.

How Frequent should I use the Bathroom during a Race?

It is ok to pee once in half-Ironman or twice in an ironman.

The frequency of your urination or the absence of it may indicate the level of your hydration.

Peeing once or twice in an ironman is normal as it indicates you are taking enough fluid without overdoing it.

Anything more than twice in an ironman means taking too much fluid or insufficient sodium in your drink. Sodium is responsible for maintaining fluid balance, cognitive function, and nerve impulse transmission.

Ways of Reducing Bathroom Break

We already established that every second count in triathlon and bathroom breaks might deprive you of those precious seconds. Many factors can contribute to frequent bathroom stops, but here are tips on how to avoid them;

  • Avoid taking a large volume of drink every 20-30 minutes; instead, take a smaller volume at 10-15 minutes intervals.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake before or during a race.
  • Reduce the consumption of dietary fiber 2-3 days before the D-day
  • Develop a hydration strategy during your training.
  • Sorbitol is known to cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea, so it should be avoided before or during a race.
  • Plan your calorie intake; smaller grams of carb every 15-20minutes is preferable to large amount every 45-60minutes
  • Go for endurance specific drink that contains adequate sodium that will keep your fluid level balanced.
  • Avoid fried and spicy food 24-48 hours before race day.
  • Avoid taking vitamin C supplements days before the race or important training.


Making a bathroom stop is inevitable, and there are various options you can use; however, referees are advised to use their discretion in judging a situation. Some triathletes are over 40 years and may find it difficult to hold their bladder for a few seconds.

Such an individual may decide to relieve himself by the roadside or pee on the bike. While this is understandable, such an act should be done acceptably, and officials should be able to use their discretion to judge a situation

Above all, the acceptable way is to use portable toilets or porta-potties provided to you in any triathlon race.

Bonus Article

Feel free to check out this bonus article on Are Earphone Allowed in Triathlon? Why not and Better Alternative!

Also, check out How To Avoid Chafing And Blisters In Triathlons? Prevention & Treatment Tips


An extreme triathlete who have competed in dozens of triathlons including IronMans and Extreme triathlons.

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