Thoughts on the 2012 NYC Marathon

4 Nov

When I first heard Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s announcement that the 2012 ING NYC Marathon would still be held despite the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, I was shocked. How could anyone imagine running a race through areas where people were still trying to pick up the pieces and get basic needs met? I know for certain I could have not stepped up to that starting line with a clean conscience had I been an entrant, regardless of my running goals. Thankfully, Mayor Bloomberg ended up cancelling the marathon. Whether it was due to public pressure or politics, I believe calling off the race was ultimately the best decision  under current conditions.

I’ve been checking out the coverage on this throughout the weekend and it is clear that there are a lot of mixed feelings about this decision. The late Friday afternoon announcement came too late for many runners who had already arrived in town and left many local residents relieved yet disheartened. Scrolling through comments on social media, in forums, and attached to news articles proved to be quite revealing. I was saddened to discover that many runners were insensitive, angry, or in need of consolation. What I read about most often were stories of runners being charitable and understanding and using their energy and presence to volunteer in the hardest hit boroughs of NYC.

I came across this blog post by NYC resident and runner Phil McCarthy who offered his thoughts on cancelling the marathon. I found this statement to be particularly poignant:

“…they found the bodies of two small boys in a marshy area just a few miles from the start area, after being ripped from their mother’s arms during the storm by the rushing waters on Monday night. […] People still haven’t had a chance to bury their loved ones, or to figure out where they’re going to be living for the coming months or how they’re going to be able to earn a living, or to pull cars out of their living rooms or boats out of their yards.” 

To those runners who were disappointed by the late cancellation, no one can tell you how you should or should not feel. However, it is my hope that those who are angry or saddened about the missed opportunity to run in the famous NYC Marathon this year are able to look beyond this race and see the bigger picture. The expense and inconvenience of travel, missing that elusive PR, or having to renegotiate with your charity sponsor is not an equal comparison to losing your home, loved ones, or livelihood.

No race, no matter how high-profile or world famous, is ever more important than humanity.


To see a news video of the effort click here.

To find other ways to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy, click here.


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