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Runners Share Hilarious Destination Race Horror Stories

Six runners share their hilarious–and terrifying–tales of traveling to destination races.

Running Clothes To Spare

“I was traveling from Chicago to Cleveland for a marathon. The weather in May in Ohio can be unpredictable, so I packed all types of running clothes for whatever Mother Nature would throw at me on race day. I had it all, from shorts and tanks to long pants and fleece. After a long six-hour drive, we arrived. I was getting ready to go to dinner, and I opened my suitcase and realized I only brought running clothes. No pajamas, and certainly nothing to wear to dinner. I had to go to dinner in my running clothes and backup pair of running shoes. That is also when I realized, I just became a real (crazy) runner!” —Jeanne Sansone-Cash, Chicago

Related: 10 Packing Hacks For Your Next Destination Race

Running Circles in Saigon

“Last month, I traveled from California to Saigon, Vietnam. I wanted to run a half marathon while there. Unfortunately there was not a race available, but I was determined to get my 13.1 miles in before leaving. The weather was terribly hot and humid, even though I started running at 5:30 a.m. I got lost multiple times and kept running through narrow alleys. The locals couldn’t help me out and even the police led me in the wrong direction. They must have thought it was hilarious to see a foreigner running around in circles. In the end, as soon as I completed my half marathon, I hopped into a taxi, still unsure of where I was, and headed safely back to the hotel!” —Hang Cassens, Sacramento, CA

The Paris Portapotty

“I traveled from Brooklyn to Paris in 2015 for the marathon. While I had five marathons under my belt, I was especially nervous, as this was my first postpartum marathon and first international race. I arrived to the start corral only to find that there was one—yes, ONE—portapotty for thousands of runners. There was another structure that had holes on each side for men, but this was the only option for women. Now this was unexpected. I got in line immediately. I waited. And waited. When the start gun went off, it was clear to me that there was no way I, or the many other runners in front of me, would be able to use the toilet, so I got a bunch of women together and we all crowded around each other, dropped our pants and simultaneously peed on the Champs-Élysées. We swore in our different languages and laughed at the hilarity of the whole experience. And then we were off.” —Rachel Spurrier, Brooklyn, NY

My Epsom Salt Is Not A Bomb

“Back in September 2012, I flew to Montreal with two friends for a half marathon. On the way home, my carry-on caused a complete stoppage at security check. I was told it looked ‘suspicious’ going through the scanner. I had a Canadian policeman questioning me. Nearby, two agents with big German shepherds, a U.S. policeman, plainclothes police and the security guards were all deciding whether to open my bag or not. I was getting really worried. After much debating, they decided to open it. What caused all this commotion? A bag of Epsom salt, my Camelbak and a small flashlight. The way those items were positioned made it look like a bomb!” —Sylvie Thériault, Halifax, Canada

Tropical Troubles

“Going from Denver to Key West last year for their half marathon was…interesting? I decided to stay at an AirBnB the night before the race. The host was nice, but the bed was the worst, and I could hear her neighbors arguing all night. I gave up at 4 a.m. and left for the race, figuring I’d find parking and sleep in the car. Then a tropical storm started. It was insane. I was parked in a garage, and eventually got word the race was delayed. As I was using the restroom before I left…power outage. It is pitch black, there’s a huge line of people outside and I can’t find the toilet paper. Then my glasses fall and break. The storm mostly passes and the race lines up, except it’s still raining. It is now as muggy as you can imagine, and there is a charming blanket of jellyfish and seaweed all over the course.” —Em Crawford, Denver

Humoring the Customs Agent

“I had the quickest customs experience ever crossing the border into the USA last fall:
Border guard: ‘Where you folks from?’

Us: ‘Winnipeg.’
Him: ‘And where are you headed?’
Us: ‘Minneapolis.’
Him: ‘And what are you doing there?’
Us: ‘Running the Twin Cities Marathon!’
Him: Shakes head, rolls eyes, returns passports, waves us through. ‘Don’t hurt yourselves.'”

—Jenn Walton, Winnipeg, Canada

Related:

7 Expert Tips For Your Next Destination Race

Tips For Planning A Destination Race

This Is What It’s Like To Run An International Marathon

Team WR

Team WR

Team WR represents the Women's Running staff and community behind the magazine and womensrunning.com. The team was created in July 2014 when Women's Running underwent its first re-design since it debuted in 2009. Collectively, Team WR has run everything, from marathon, to half, to novelty runs, to ultras, to 10K and 5K races, to obstacle events, to triathlons.