Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sandy can't stop NYCM

[Update: Looks like there was a question in the organizers minds as the NYCM has been cancelled for 2012. (link to a great article about the decision)

From NYRR:
While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division. We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event -- even one as meaningful as this -- to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to help New York City recover from the storm. 
Small-minded, short-sided people who fail to see the marathon as an opportunity, but instead use it as a symbol of what they don't have and aren't getting, gave the NYRR no choice, and have taken away a great chance to raise a tremendous amount of money, not to mention goodwill and support, for those who need help.

I do sympathize with those in need. I have given to the American Red Cross. But it bums me out to think that "public outrage" from a vocal few has cancelled the great NYCM.

Not that it helps much, but below is my essay on why the NYCM should have been run, written just after it was decided it was on for sure, and just before it was cancelled. - Doug]

There really wasn't any question in my mind. The New York City Marathon had to take place, hurricane or no hurricane.

The NYCM is more than a marathon. It's a celebration of life. It's a celebration of running. But mostly, it's a celebration of New York City.

There was talk that running NYCM less than a week after hurricane Sandy slammed Lower Manhattan and New Jersey with a right hook was crass, insensitive, in bad taste. I'm pretty sure that the people saying that have never run NYCM, or stood along the sidewalk to experience it firsthand.

The people of New York City embrace the marathon like no other people in the world. The marathon course goes through all 5 boroughs of New York City, and each borough, each neighborhood, wants to show their support, and their pride. And boy do they come out, millions of them, seriously... millions, standing 10 deep in some places, to cheer on people they don't know, to represent New York for the 47,000 people who will run by. And after the race, they treat you like royalty. In restaurants, on the subway, in line for a show, strangers greet you with smiles, ask if you had a good race, ask if you're enjoying your time in the city, like the proud host of any great party.

New Yorkers love their marathon. Taking it away from them when, I imagine, they could really use a break from the non-stop reporting of sand, flooded tunnels, and dangling cranes, would be wrong, and a little cruel.

I even saw a suggestion that the food for the runners should be donated to those in need from the storm. Not to be indelicate here, but that's being reactionary and just plain stupid. Bagels, and bananas, and Gatorade for 47,000 runners is not what those who lost their homes need. Those folks need cash. Same for the Red Cross.

Thankfully, the amazing folks at New York Road Runners aren't stupid. They understand that New York City is not only the greatest city in the world, but also the toughest, the most resilient.

They also know that runners are the best people in the world.

Having 47,000 runners in one place, a place that is special to them because they have been planning and training for months to run through it, is an opportunity to help those runners find a way to give back to the city and the people who make the New York City Marathon the best marathon experience in the world. The focus of the organizers, after the safety of the runners and volunteers, is to "establish ways for everyone to support the relief efforts through charitable donations."

The marathon isn't going to clean up the mess from Sandy. When the race is over, things won't magically be all better. But it is going to give those actually living the disaster a break, and a reminder of how great their city is, and what it means to be a New Yorker. It's going to show the world that even a perfect storm can't stop New York City. And it's also going to raise a lot of money and get it to the people who can do the most good with it.

That's a hell of a lot better than 250,000 bagels.

Please consider donating to the American Red Cross.

Good running,