The ING New York City Marathon is on schedule for Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 despite the damage to the city from Superstorm Sandy. The race is walker-friendly and about 2000 of the 46,000 finishers in 2011 were marathon walkers, many of them walking for charities. But many registrants will have difficulty getting to NYC this year, with travel and public transport disruptions. The marathon is allowing them to defer to the 2013 event, although they will have to pay the 2013 entry fee.
Even with a reduced field of runners and walkers, the race is coming under fire from those in NYC who sustained storm damage and are waiting for basic services to be restored. As a marathon race director myself, I can see both sides of the issue. The race will bring up to $350 million to the New York City economy and can be a sign of recovery, as it was in 2001. Racers have been training for many months, and even getting a race entry is an achievement as it is determined by lottery. Refunds are not being offered as the event expenses have already been incurred.
But seeing water stops and portable toilets on the course when your highrise apartment building has been without water, flushing toilets, and electricity for days is bound to stir anger. A friend has been posting that after resorting to using his stash of champagne to flush his toilet, he's evacuating out of NYC to a relative who has basic services.While Mayor Bloomberg supports the race, how can it not pull resources that could have gone into helping recover city services? Even though the marathon is paying for those services and providing volunteers, those still recovering are bound to feel resentment.
"Too soon" is what I think with my heart, and if I were a racer I would be tempted to defer to 2013 just to be sure I had good support on the race route. At the least, this adds huge complexity to your race day preparations and to your post-marathon recovery plans. If you are in NYC and want to watch, our Running Guide has a NYC Marathon Spectator Guide.
What do you think?