Friday, November 2, 2012

NYC Marathon Still On

The man-made disaster of the 9-11 terrorists attacks did not stop the running of the 2001 New York City Marathon. Neither will the natural disaster of Hurricane Sandy stand in the way of the 2012 NYC Marathon.

As the five boroughs of New York City, New Jersey, and other Mid-Atlantic states recover from the worst hurricane to hit in years, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated on Wednesday that the NYC Marathon will still be run on Sunday, November 4th. This decision was immediately labeled as inappropriate given the wreckage, loss of life, lack of electricity, and scaled-back public transportation left in Sandy's wake.

The marathon is set to start on hard-hit Staten Island where recovery efforts are still underway to locate missing loved ones. The Staten Island Borough President Jim Molinaro urged Bloomberg to cancel the race and not shift supplies or manpower from Staten Island over to the NYC Marathon. Molinaro said that having the race in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is "crazy, asinine." If you look at the images coming out of Staten Island, Molinaro has a point. Plus there's the problem of transporting thousands of runners to the Staten Island start. The Staten Island Ferry is closed and the NYC subway system isn't fully up and running. Guess that leaves buses to transport the runners. Lots of buses.

I'm a runner, not a marathon runner. But I don't know if I'd feel right running in a race in the middle of a natural disaster. I've also lived through a few of Mother Nature's storms on the East Coast and know how difficult it can be to get a city up and running after a natural disaster. Nor'easters and blizzards are in a completely different category than the likes of Hurricane Sandy. It would be unfortunate if resources, volunteers, police, and power generators were taken away from recovery and clean-up efforts solely for the NYC Marathon.

The NYC marathon has been run every year since 1970 so race cancellation would historically loom large on Bloomberg. The main race sponsor ING is raising millions in disaster relief and is dedicated to helping communities hit by Hurricane Sandy. That's great and all, but is it really enough if you've lost your home, haven't had heat for a week, and your dog has gone missing in the aftermath of the storm? Is the running of the NYC Marathon really inappropriate given the destruction in and around NYC? Personally don't think I would run it and would instead spend the time volunteering to help in clean up efforts.

But New Yorkers are traditionally a resilient bunch who will overcome any disaster thrown at them. Some New Yorkers embrace the running of the NYC Marathon as something positive in the midst of disaster. Regardless the race goes on and so will the controversy surrounding it.

NYC Marathon cancelled by Bloomberg on Nov. 2.  A logical move given the circumstances. The marathon has not yet been rescheduled.


Anonymous said...

People who are displaced from their homes are now being asked to leave their hotel rooms to accommodate reservations for the runners. With so many people without power and fresh water, it will be hard to watch the water and resources being wasted on this activity.

Christianna said...

That seems pretty cruel asking those folks to clear out from their hotel rooms and return to what? A damp house with no electricity. That just does not seem right.