Sunday, November 04, 2012

Why I'll never run the NYC Marathon

Wow. Let me say this after reading the email letter from the NYRR (below, from the Gothamist at about canceling the NYC Marathon. I will never run the race as long as they are in charge of it:

Letter from the New York Road Runners:
It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that the 2012 ING New York City Marathon has been canceled.

The decision was made after it became increasingly apparent that the people of our city and the surrounding tri-state area were still struggling to recover from the damage wrought by the recent extreme weather conditions. That struggle, fueled by the resulting extensive and growing media coverage antagonistic to the marathon and its participants, created conditions that raised concern for the safety of both those working to produce the event and its participants. While holding the race would not have required diverting resources from the recovery effort, it became clear that the apparent widespread perception to the contrary had become the source of controversy and division. Neither NYRR nor the City could allow a controversy over the marathon to result in a dangerous situation or to distract attention from all the critically important work that is being done to help New York City recover from the storm.

NYRR, in partnership with the Rudin Family and the ING Foundation, has established the "Race to Recover" Marathon Fund to aid New Yorkers impacted by the storm. Over $2.6 million has been raised, including a $1 million donation by NYRR. We are asking you to join us by making a $26.20 donation, or whatever you can afford, to help bring recovery and hope to those communities and families most affected. Proceeds will go to Hurricane Sandy Relief, administered by the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. You can also donate to the relief effort through NYRR's fundraising platform, CrowdRise, which includes the American Red Cross and other charities.

NYRR will redeploy the marathon resources and materials toward the recovery effort. We will share the details of this project as they are finalized in the days ahead.

We all recognize this has been a very challenging time in New York City that has impacted so many people, including you, our runners. Please know that this is one of the toughest decisions we have ever made, and that we deeply appreciate your support.

My take: Two things here- the resources being used and reserved for the marathon (including desperately needed generators and gasoline) were by default not being used for the recovery effort. And blaming the media for basically asking a very common sense question that was not antagonistic is- wow.

When John Hirsch wrote a note explaining his reasoning for the race going on, it really gave me pause. He was talking about charity and things like that and I thought 'maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way thinking the race should be cancelled'.

Then I read this letter. I was ready to hold NYRR blameless and chalk this whole thing up to Mayor Bloomberg, who isn't always willing to reverse decisions, especially high-profile ones.

The donation is great. But this letter should have been a mea culpa, not an ode to the media misunderstanding the poor NYC marathon. Just my take, but I really am just not impressed.

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