26.2 Miles, 2,250 Restrooms

The New York City Marathon is the biggest job of the year for Connecticut portable sanitation contractor A Royal Flush


A Royal Flush Inc. has its headquarters in Bridgeport, Conn. All administrative and sales functions for the company’s five branches are managed from there. Operations for the marathon were coordinated out of the Bronx office. The race goes through all five New York City boroughs and the company divided tasks mostly along those lines: Bob Ploof in Staten Island, Mauro DaSilva in Brooklyn and Queens, Delfin Hernandez in Manhattan and Jason Melendez at home base in the Bronx. Ed Stead was in charge of trailers and special equipment.

The Bronx’s special event workforce of seven expanded to about 50 as workers from all the branches helped out.

Alexandra Townsend, special event sales and marketing manager, has worked alongside her mother, Debbie Russo, one of the owners, since she was a young teen. She was involved in the pre-planning stages of this event, but for the first time in 13 years was not on hand to help on the day of the race — because she was in the race.


The company began in 1989 with the purchase of the portable restroom division of BFI Waste Services of Connecticut by five partners, all still actively involved. Russo handles special events, sales and office administration, Bill Malone does operations and finance, DaSilva is the events coordinator, Michael Streaman manages special projects and construction, and Tim Butler is an attorney.

After a few years, the company expanded into the Bronx. “We were doing a lot of work in New York and over time that was a nightmare because traffic in Connecticut is horrible,” says Townsend. “So we started the Bronx office, which has easy access to all the boroughs.” The company also opened offices in Springfield, Mass., Newburg, New York, and Philadelphia, and now employs 82 people. In general, the company splits its workforce into construction route service technicians, construction pickup and delivery people, and special events workers.


This was the 13th year the company serviced the New York City Marathon. Because of the size of the event and what that would do for the image of the company, A Royal Flush started going after it from the beginning. “More than anything in the world, we wanted this contract,” says Russo. It took a few years, but when the prior portable restroom contractor was sold and some internal changes were made, “their misfortune became our fortune,” she says, and they got their chance. That was in 1996 and they’ve been doing it ever since. The company works throughout the year for the client, the New York Road Runners.


On Sunday morning, Nov. 2, 2008, the Manhattan skyline before them, about 39,000 runners from over 100 countries took off across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island, beginning a 26.2-mile run through the five boroughs of New York City to the finish line in Central Park. The ING New York City Marathon is the largest marathon in the world. Runners either qualified for the race or were selected by lottery out of 105,000 applications. Two million spectators and 300 million television viewers cheered them on. Elites polished it off in a couple of hours, competing for $600,000 in prize money. Most of the others got there at some point in the 8 1/2 hour time limit, and did it for personal satisfaction.


The company supplied 2,250 units, making it one of the largest portable restroom events in the country. Most were forest green Tufways from Satellite Industries. Workers placed 1,500 units at the starting area in Fort Wadsworth Park (a restricted area for runners only), 450 in small banks every mile of the course, and 300 at the finish in Central Park.

The race had several divisions for people with disabilities. The company placed 60 wheelchair-accessible units (Liberty from Satellite Industries) at Fort Wadsworth, and 50 along the route. Twenty-two, 210-gallon Kentucky Tank holding tanks for food vendors and 12 hand-wash stations (The Wave from Satellite Industries) were provided at Fort Wadsworth.

Three ACSI 24-foot Presidential restroom trailers were placed in Central Park for city officials and the media for Saturday night’s pasta party for runners and their families, as well as Sunday’s brunch for the dignitaries. One was placed at the start for the production crew and the media.


The Bronx office began accumulating units in September. “We bring them in for some of the larger events and then roll them right into the marathon inventory,” says Malone.

Two weeks before the race, workers started setting up units and holding tanks in Fort Wadsworth, 100 or so each night. “The Road Runners start using them the week before the race. Basically set up a village out there for food and medical. It takes a couple hundred people,” says Malone.

Saturday, the Bronx office became command central as 50 technicians arrived from other branches for the day-long process of loading and unloading trailers. “We bring in Winnebagos for them to sleep in, we do a catering throughout the whole weekend,” says Malone. “We roll people in and out. After the guys work for 14 hours, then another crew of guys comes in.”

They began with the least disruptive locations and finish up by 3 a.m. with the major thoroughfares.

For setup, the company used eight vacuum trucks pulling 20-unit trailers, one Mitsubishi FE649 for narrow locations, and seven International 4700s.


Units at Fort Wadsworth were cleaned daily. Saturday night, two vacuum trucks were stationed there, along with two technicians who stayed in a camper. They started pumping as soon as the area began to clear.

The company continued pumping through the day and night in a 400-man/hour marathon of their own “Every year we clock ourselves. We get better at it because we have different layouts, different equipment. Every year we try to reduce the number of hours to do the job,” says Malone.

The pumping service fleet included a 2006 6,000-gallon Dragon Products Ltd. tanker, a 2006 Kenworth septic truck with a 4,400-gallon Progress Tank, and six International 4700 vacuum trucks built by L.C. Tanks with 2,000 gallon (1,500 gallons waste/500 gallons fresh) aluminum tanks and Masport pumps.


“This is by far our largest event, requiring months of preparation and a lot of hard work,” says Townsend.

Russo adds: “In 1996, the order was 750 units, so it’s interesting how our company has grown as the marathon has grown. It’s the last big event of the season and uses nearly everybody in our company, so it’s just a real special event to us.”


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