Friday, November 2, 2012

Should the New York Marathon be cancelled this year?

My prayers go out to everyone that has been impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  The pictures and stories of the devastation break my heart.

From a runner's perspective, I cannot believe that the New York Marathon is still going to take place this weekend.  LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark all have backlogs of thousands of cancelled flights.  The New York subway is barely operational in some places, and still out of commission in Manhattan and many other areas.  Traffic at bridges is backed up for miles, people are waiting in line for hours at gas stations. Thousands upon thousands are still without power, and countless others are now homeless.

Is it really a good idea for the New York Marathon to still go on this weekend?  The logistics of a marathon the size of New York City will strain local resources even when intact.  But how are nearly 50,000 runners possibly going to make their way just to the starting line on Staten Island under these circumstances?

More importantly, the marathon will require emergency resources that would be much more urgently needed in other places. I think it is more important to ensure that the locals of New York are taken care of before utilizing valuable resources to put on this event.

From the flip side, I understand the New York mentality that "We will prevail" and "We are resilient and we will go on, no matter what."  I also understand the magnitude of planning and cost that goes into the New York Marathon - not just from the organizer's perspective, but also from the runners.  The New York Marathon probably has a seven-figure price tag for its organizers.  Also, people travel from around the globe to run New York, many spending thousands of dollars in plane tickets and lodging.  I can't even begin to think about how many man-hours of planning that it took.

Then there's the countless hours of training.  I spent over nine months training for the Chicago Marathon - and if it ended up being cancelled, I would have been overwhelmingly disappointed.  Let's not even talk about New York's lotto system for registration.

In summary - while there are certainly two sides to this issue - I personally do not think that the New York Marathon should take place this weekend.  Put more bluntly, there are much, much bigger concerns right now.

Thoughts?  I'd love to hear your opinions.


  1. I am really mixed on it, because I ran it last year and it's been my fave marathon - I would be so bummed if it was canceled this year. But at the same time, I realize what a disaster NYC is right now. How are all those people even going to get to Staten Island to start it? And what about most of lower Manhattan, Staten Island, a lot of Brooklyn and Queens still being in shambles? It's kind of crazy. I know a lot of people are deferring for next year. It would be a bummer to do that, but it seems to make the most sense. Getting to NYC and to the race, and back to wherever you could find to stay would be a nightmare!

  2. I was shocked to hear that it was still going on. I do see both sides, but I truly don't understand how someone can say that it won't take resources away from helping the victims of Sandy (this was the argument used to support still having it). Another argument is that runners and sponsors have already donated money towards disaster relief and while that's wonderful, I would certainly hope that people would donate that money with or without the marathon happening. I did read that some of the elite runners are already in New York, traveling through the storm to get there. It would certainly be a shame to travel from Kenya to NY for an event that turns out to be cancelled, but good heavens, this storm is a once in a lifetime event and certainly one that couldn't really be predicted...I would hope people would understand. Priority #1 should be to the storm...not a marathon.

  3. I am surprised but it is what it is! New Yorkers are strong and resilient people but I also agree there are much more important concerns at this tragic time! I just hope that real Sandy emergencies are handled first and foremost as those victims desperately need the help...blessings girlie!

  4. I ran it last year and it is the greatest race in the world hands down. Too bad it isn't next weekend or in two weeks when things should be more back to normal. They say it is the 2nd biggest party weekend in NYC next to New Years Eve. Maybe it will give people a temporary break from the misery? I guess we shall see...

  5. I should probably say this more often but...I'm in total agreement with my wife.

    I sympathize with those who trained and those who made committments to come to New York City. And in most circumstances I say battle through adversity and make it happen. In this case however we have an unprecedented natural disaster effecting NYC and many surrouding areas. The race should be postponed.

  6. I'm really mixed. (And glad I'm not the one deciding!) I saw Letterman make a joke about it. Something along the lines of, "The runners really want the race to go on so they can meet their goal of coming in 6,000th place." Basically mocking runners by pointing out that most people are casual runners or not that fast or not professional. The way he said it just put me on the defensive. The race has nothing to do with coming in a certain place. Grrr.

    I can see how the runners must feel. It's so hard to get into the NYC marathon. And expensive. Add in the months of training and taking time off work. For some people, this was their one shot at the race. (They have a spot if they want to run it next year, but that doesn't mean they can.)

    But the things the people of the north east are experiencing right now are huge, life altering things. And the city appears to be in shambles in some places. I'm not sure how it is logistically possible. And it seems like most people feel strongly that it shouldn't take place. I know that the race is a big money maker, but if it does indeed happen, there's going to be a lot of backlash.*

  7. oh and one more thing sweet lady...I have decided to write a series of blog posts about being thankful..for the month of November...I am trying to start a "Count your many blessings" movement within the blogging community...I will post on Sunday the 4th for Nov. 1-4 then next week 5-11 and so on...are ya with me? Pass it along either way, blessings and hugs!

  8. I'm split on this. While the marathon is now officially cancelled, I still can't quite decide if it truly was 100% the right thing to do. It is pretty clear though that holding the event would've created way too much tension and opposition in the city, and everyone would have suffered for it, especially the runners. I guess with that said, the complications surrounding canceling the event are out-weighed by the general suffering of those affected by Sandy. There is no denying that the resources (volunteers, food, water, heating blankets, etc.) will be better utilized for hurricane victims. And when it comes down to it, holding the marathon to "keep up the morale of the city" wouldn't be effective because people have too many problems at the moment to see the marathon as anything else but burdensome and inappropriate. So while I'm bummed that it was cancelled (I can't even imagine how the runners feel), I think the mayor ultimately made the right call.

  9. Ive tried to stay away from this topic as long as possible but since I'm stewing over a massage I was supposed to have that somehow got cancelled without my knowledge I now have time while I wait for L. First world problem for sure!!

    They should have just cancelled on Wednesday. Not wait Until Friday evening...

    I've lived in Florida during hurricanes and never really saw significant damage up close (we were lucky) but know the coastal low lying areas generally are hardest hit. It was unfathomable that the marathon would go on with all the damage that NYC incurred. That city isn't set up to deal with storm surge- no place is! With public transit flooded and people without power it would have been a slap in the face to the people of NYC to still hold the race. I've got runner friends up there who feel the same way- and one who was supposed to run it but deferred. His familys area sustained damage. I read an article in the NY post that said the Race was stock piling generators and pallets of water for the race when areas within a few blocks were without power and water. The race has gotten too big and greedy... But that's a story for another day. :) I'm just super thankful I didn't get chosen in the lottery this year. I'll never consider running the NyC marathon ever again.

  10. I do think canceling it was the right decision. I just wish they had done so sooner. And now that I've read about the way everything was handled, I am going to seriously consider not putting in for the lottery next year...