Thursday, November 1, 2012

NYC Marathon: It's On!

Following NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement on Wednesday that the ING New York City Marathon would go on as scheduled this Sunday, many people were outraged by the decision. It's understandable, after all, there are half a million without power, streets are flooded, and the city's transportation is taxed beyond their limits.

But if there's any city on this planet that can pull it off, it's New York, and the New York Road Runners.

It's a much smaller scale, but it's similar to the snowstorm that prevented over 90% of the 3000 Celtic Solstice runners from making it to the start in 2009. Race Director Jim Adams had two choices that day: 1) cancel the race without an option to postpone, or 2) hold the race for whoever could safely get there.

That's the position NYRR is essentially taking. If you can make it, this thing is happening. I, for one, support the decision, but I do have a few suggestions:

1. Allow deferral of 2012 race entry to one of the next couple of years' races

Currently you're able to defer your entry to this year's race to the 2013 race. You don't get refunded for this year, and you pay again for next year. For some, particularly international runners, they may just not be able to commit right now to the trip next year. We say allow them to defer their entry to the 2013, 2014, or 2015 race.

2. Open the race up to previously un-registered competitors (idea courtesy of Brennan)

While there are a lot of people who aren't going to run - either can't get there, don't want to, whatever - there are plenty of people who are NOT currently registered that would gladly pay to run. Charge them $250, $300, heck charge as much as you want, and open the race to anyone who can get there. Then take that money and donate it directly to relief funds. You've already paid for a race for 47,000. You're not going to have that many. This money would be gravy. Help rebuild Breezy Point in Queens.

3. Allow people to pick up other people's packets

Getting into the city one day this week is going to be hard enough. Why make people go in twice? If you're coming from outside the city, it could be a significant challenge to get to the expo in advance of the race. Why not take some of the stress out and allow people to pick up packets for others, with some kind of photo evidence, of course. It would reduce the strain on transportation and traffic, and allow more people to get their things (that they've paid for).

The New York City Marathon is, in my opinion, the greatest footrace on the planet. There's so much that goes into the event, and if the race can be held, it should be. If officials came out and said that holding the race would be detrimental to recovery efforts, and it should not be run, then I would believe it. But it's going to take the city months to fully recover, and if the race logistics issues have been addressed, I don't see how holding the race is a negative. It can only benefit the city. New York is entering it's busiest tourism time of the year, and needs to get right back on it.


brennan said...

My opinion is worth nothing, but I will write something. Having done 3 of the 5 "major" marathons I can say that NYC is by far the greatest marathon. Not only are the challenges the greatest, but the execution of overcoming these challenges the best. Their are logistical nightmares for this race, but NYRR & Mary Wittenberg do an incredible job. The atmosphere and scenes are 2nd to none. I absolutely would go up to NYC this weekend if they opened up the opportunity to register - even if it meant no official results (maybe this time I'll remember crossing the finish line). I have the utmost respect for NYRR & Wittenberg and fully anticipate that they will be able to pull this off. I wish I were there on Sunday to be able to see it, take part in it or volunteer. To all those involved, coordinating and running and I wish you the best of luck!

RM said...

Bren - I'm right with you.

On the part about remembering crossing the finish line.

Haha. I'd also like to do that.