By Alison Wade
As civilized as most runners are most of the time, they can be known for doing some pretty uncivilized things when it comes relieving themselves, especially for the sake of running performance.
A newer mobile app and website hopes to fix this. Airpnp, which lets users search for and pay to use strangers’ private toilets, could potentially be of interest and use to runners.
You might be wondering if this article is satire right about now, but it’s not. Travis Laurendine is a former comedian and one of the company’s founders, and while the concept began as a joke, he and cofounder Max Gaudin began to wonder if it just might work.
The two New Orleans, Lousiana, residents routinely experienced the same phenomenon during Mardi Gras that many runners experience at road races: too many people, not enough toilets. They scrambled to put together a website in time for last year’s Mardi Gras celebration, and they’ve since revamped the site and added an iPhone app.
This should sound familiar to anyone who has run a big race before with long lines for the bathroom. For example, residents of Hopkinton, Massachusetts, know all too well about the widespread phenomenon of runners relieving themselves on their front lawns before the start of the Boston Marathon.
Most of the restroom rentals cost $1 to $10 (around R12 to R120), but some users are a little more ambitious and are hoping to get as much as $1,000 per visit (R12 000). Customers can rate toilets after using them, and those who rent the toilets can rate their customers.
It still remains to be determined whether or not Airpnp will truly catch on. As of now, there aren’t enough restrooms listed for the service to be useful on a widespread basis. There are also the matters of safety and awkwardness that go along with using a stranger’s toilet.
However, the possibilities for runners, race spectators, and those who live near major race courses are endless. For certain residents of Hopkinton, this could mean at least getting some financial compensation on marathon day, even if they do still have to deal with the illegal “lawn watering.”
The Airpnp service doesn’t seem to currently include showering, but if it did, it could open up opportunities for going to brunch with friends after a long run and not smelling like you just ran for a couple of hours.
Whether or not Airpnp takes off, it’s a good conversation topic on a long run and opportunity for its founders to make really bad jokes–like Airpnp’s company motto of “pee all you can pee” and their reassurance that “urine good hands.”