In Praise of a True Triathlon Hero

There have been many lauded triathletes over the years. I began racing in the era of the Scotts (Dave Scott, Scott Tinley, Scott Molina), Sally Edwards, Mark Allen, Mike Pigg, Paula Newby-Frasier, the Puntous twins and more. They, and those who followed in their footsteps, have graced the covers of a myriad of triathlon publications over the years. But there is one man who has never, to the best of my knowledge, been on the cover of Triathlon or Triathlete magazines Who has never been chronicled in a featurette during Cona coverage. Who will never be inducted into the Triathlon Hall of Fame, though he certainly belongs. 

Who is this unknown triathlon hero?

Hi name is George Harding and in the 1960s he invented the one item that no triathlete can do without: the Porta-Potty! Would triathlons even exist without Mr. Harding?

File:Porta Potty by David Shankbone.jpg

At a time when the development of new technologies for triathletes seems to increase exponentially year over year, we can still take refuge in the porta-potty. It’s often the first place we visit when we arrive at a race location and our last stop before we leave. What do new triathletes do as soon as they arrive at a race? They get in line go get their body’s marked with their race number. What do seasoned triathletes do as soon as they arrive at a race? They get in line for the porta-potty. They know that there will be plenty of time to get numbered, but a quick visit to the house that Harding built will help to ensure a better race. And, if timed correctly, there will be opportunities for a second or even third visit before hitting the water.

Back in the 80s I did the USTS Chicago, with thousands of other athletes. When I arrived at check-in there were several city blocks worth of porta-pottys there to greet us. I was moved to tears of gratitude for our unknown hero.

So, Mr. Harding, on behalf of the entire triathlon community, thank you for your foresight and your invention. Without it, our lives would surely be diminished.

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