Well, I never thought I’d be writing about my search for a missing portable toilet, but here you have it.
Some things just come with the territory of being a race director. This year, that meant I had to knuckle down and search far and wide for a literal potty. After the journey to retrieve our stolen equipment, I’m tempted to buy a horse and audition for Man Tracker. Listen, I’m now more than qualified. Let me explain…
At 4:00 a.m. on race morning, my sign volunteers called me. Someone had stolen 80 per cent of the metal stakes used to mount our marathon custom cheer signs. Great. That wasn’t all though. On Monday after the race, our port-a-potty supplier told me that one of the units was missing. I’d be responsible for footing that bill.
As for the stakes, I’m not surprised that a desperate person wanted to make quick cash by recycling metal… but who steals a port-a-potty!?
I filed a police report and offered a cash reward through Crime Stoppers for the equipment return or capture of the potty bandit. The public service announcement I put out on Facebook quickly received hundreds of shares and reached over 50,000 people. Community members were outraged. Every year, Maritime Race Weekend makes significant donations to our community groups. If we had to replace stolen equipment, that would reduce our donations to youth sports, volunteer fire fighters, elderly programs and more.
Numerous tips came in but none led to our missing port-a-potty. I was giving up hope ready to just dole out the cash. It would have felt like just flushing it all down the toilet – so to speak. I had almost given up when a community member sent me a shocking message: her husband found our lone bathroom stall. The message included a photo displaying the serial number and a general description of its location.
It turns out, it was hidden along a trail deep in the woods almost a kilometre from its original location. Our first attempt to find the unit was an epic fail: 500 meters into the woods, it was too dark for us to proceed without headlamps or proper footwear to trudge through deep muddy water, navigate uneven ground and dodge large rocks. We returned the next morning and sure enough in the middle of nowhere, carefully placed in a small clearing was our port-a-potty.
As if finding the unit wasn’t hard enough, now we had to figure out how to get the port-a-potty back to civilization (this is where my heroes enter the story). I called a few of my strongest friends and they all agreed to help, but we needed to figure out a time when everyone could get together. In the meantime, our local volunteer fire chief heard that the famous toilet was found (it’s a small town… word travels fast). He offered to assemble his team for the recovery. Before I knew it, one of my friends and five fire fighters were on-site lassoing the port-a-potty and dragging it out of the woods. I kid you not.
This is the third time the volunteer fire fighters have come to my rescue in the last year and I haven’t even had a fire! Their team demonstrate and incredible dedication to our community, its residents and Maritime Race Weekend.
In appreciation for their help, we’ll make a donation to the local volunteer fire station. My friends will all get a case of beer for stepping up and being ready to do whatever was needed. If you drag a toilet out of the middle of the forest for me, a case of beer is the least I can give you. Of course, my mom was by my side in the search and took awesome footage of the rescue mission – I can’t thank her enough. Last but not least, I cannot not forget the man who found the missing port-a-potty and his wonderful wife for contacting us with its location. We offered their family the cash reward promised on the public service announcement, but they asked us to donate it to the local elementary school breakfast programs instead.
We are still searching for the metal stakes and the bandit. If you have information, please contact me or call Crime Stoppers.