Why run the NY City Marathon?
You’d have to be living under a rock to not have an idea of what’s going on up here in the Northeast the past few days. Before I get into the meat of this post, a quick shout out to say what a fabulous job all the first responders, all the power crews, and everyone else here is handling this crisis. There is a reason why New York City is the best city in the world, and you are seeing why now.
There is a huge debate going on now due to Bloomberg’s decision to not cancel the NY City Marathon. I like Bloomberg a lot, I think he has done a lot of great things for this city (like only taking $1/year salary for his job), but this is a huge mistake and it is a good thing he doesn’t have to run again because it is bone-head decisions like this that cost people elections. I totally agree with the view that sports unites a community, you don’t have to look farther than Piazza’s home run to give the Mets a win in the first baseball game that was played after 9/11, but this is a different situation and I wish terribly that Bloomberg would re-think his decision.
Consider this, the race starts on the Verrazano Bridge on Staten Island, which is quite possibly a third world country right now due to the destruction. Runners will literally be gathering within shouting distance of people looking for victims of this storm. The marathon is a huge undertaking and it requires more than a few volunteers to help the runners get to the race, to hand out water and food, and to basically help maintain order. So in order to make that happen, you are going to have to pull people from the search & clean-up effort to go help with the race. Instead of handing out meals and water to NY City residents who NEED it, these people are going to have to hand out water to runners from around the Country and World who have come here to run. Forgive me if I have relatively little sympathy for people who have already purchased their plane tickets, or already booked their hotel rooms for the race…sure they will lose some money, but tell your sob story to people on Staten Island who just lost their house. Speaking of those hotel rooms, again there are NY City residents who need those rooms, but they can’t stay in the hotels because rooms are booked for this race, it almost sends the message that out of towners are more important the NY City residents…not true.
I know people will say that the race is only 1 day and those volunteers can return to helping New Yorkers after the race, but that is a very important day and for someone who lost their house and all their belongings, that is a huge day. School is supposed to resume on Monday, what are you supposed to do if your child doesn’t have any clothes? I don’t think people fully grasp that there were towns on the Jersey & Long Island shores that were completely wiped out, as in there is nothing left. If you were lucky enough to live in a town where your house wasn’t destroyed, maybe now you have raw sewage seeping up from backed up pipes, or maybe you have mold growing in your basement or 1st floor from the water, maybe you have to worry about looters, and now maybe there is no one to help you because that person who was going to give you a hot meal and a bottle of water is stuck at the 18th mile handing out water a runner from Nebraska who now has something to cross off their bucket list.
From what I have seen, people are still acting relatively civilized…but it would not surprise me at all if there is a revolt on race day, especially on Staten Island where it all starts. I wouldn’t blame them one bit, because if that was me, I would certainly have more than a little animosity if I saw a bus drive past what was left of my house carrying people who were going for a run. Especially if that bus could have been carrying relief supplies for victims.
I lived in the city for years, and I have seen this race run literally right by my apartment…it is a great event, it is a fun race to watch, but it should have been re-scheduled.
Apparently I have the same clout with the Mayor’s office that I had when I lived in the city because I just got word that Mayor Bloomberg made the right call and cancelled the marathon. If this disaster had happened a month or so ago, I would say let’s give it a go…but the 5 boroughs are still too much of a disaster…glad you made the right call Mike.