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Wendy Bumgardner

NYC Marathon Going Forward Despite Storm Damage

By November 2, 2012

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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?

November 2, 2012 at 10:24 am
(1) Paige says:

You make great points for either side, Wendy. It is a chance for life to go on, which can bring a little hope after something so devastating. However, if it were me sitting in a dark apartment, contemplating whether I should drink the champagne or use it to flush a toilet (awful choice, really), I would be upset to come second to marathoners.

November 2, 2012 at 11:01 am
(2) Pam says:

I was okay with the Marathon today, until I heard about storm refugees being asked to vacate hotels rooms. Those rooms had been booked for tourists for the Marathon. While business is business, that’s just plain unbalanced.

November 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm
(3) Eric Cohen says:

Staten Island is a total mess. We’ve had close to 20 fatalities (they keep finding more bodies), there are shortages of gas, food & water, many people are currently homeless, there is an oil spill in one of our waterways, power is still out for a good chunk of the Island, the ferry and the trains are still not working, traffic signals aren’t working in parts of the Island, and we have an idiot mayor who thinks it is a good idea to start a marathon here and in the process close the most important bridge on the Island and divert services badly needed at this time for some very selfish people to run a few miles. At least we have a hotel owner on the Island that cares about our community and won’t kick out our evacuees for these running jerks.

Also, please don’t compare this to the 9/11 situation. Our sign of resiliency back then was giving a big NYC middle finger to the people responsible for that tragedy to let them know that they would never beat us. That logic doesn’t hold well when you talk about mother nature.

The are other big issue when comparing this to 9/11 is that the first responders are needed right now to help out our community. By the time of the marathon in 2001, the imminent danger was well over.

November 3, 2012 at 1:57 am
(4) Will says:

Let’s see, we had the Knicks game played at MSG tonight and the marathon was not gonna happen until Sunday. I saw thousands of fans cheering on the Knicks, but they couldn’t do it Sunday for the runners? Folks, we are talking about an event that last several hours and we got people flipping out about runners getting water and using generators for tents?

The question no one is asking is how is it possible that the marathon could have generators, but it would have been a week since Sandy hit and there are places that don’t have it and are said to need it? This crying about resources is pretty darn silly and the marathon could have been used to bring in money or even give those affected a chance to break away to watch the marathon and those gnerators could be used if needed elsewhere after the race.

The idea that we could not hold an event for several hours is ridiculous. Yes, there are people hurting, but life goes on and if the route is clear, the race should have happened. Those several hours would not have mattered to those affected because the marathon lasts only for a number of hours and those affected would not miss one day of support.

Silly decision to cancel.

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