I know that everyone and their brother has weighed in on the cancellation of the NYC Marathon, but I wanted to add my two cents to the discussion.
First, I find it ridiculous that they waited until around 36 hours before the start of the race to cancel. It should have been cancelled earlier in the week. I know that part of the story is all of the bad PR that came about as the result of the decision to hold the marathon anyway, and I find it fascinating how all of these voices truly did manage to exact change. It shows the power of speaking up.
I was on the fence about the whole decision for most of the debate. It didn’t seem right to me, but I wasn’t going, so it was hard to form a proper opinion. Then a friend brought up an interesting point. The hospitals in NYC are overwhelmed right now. Not only from hurricane injuries but because of all the power outages and flooded hospitals. Hospitals are at capacity right now. And let’s be honest, marathons lead to people going to the hospital. Some for dehydration, some for broken bones, some for even worse issues. It is wrong to voluntarily overtax the medical system that way.
I have friends who were already in the city when the cancellation was announced. Many of them spent the weekend as tourists, spending money in the city and stimulating the economy, as the marathon does each year. Others, particularly a few with special skills, went on to help out in the recovery efforts. Many donated their hotel rooms to those displaced by the hurricane, which I find awesome.
I loved seeing all the photos on Sunday morning, from the groups of runners who met up to carry supplies out to Staten Island to the ones who held their own marathon to the ones who spent the day with friends. It was awesome to see all the positivity.
I do hope that the marathon recovers from this. I have heard mixed reviews of the current leadership of the New York Road Runners and am not going to offer an opinion based on hearsay. But I know that they are facing huge financial loss and I hope that they can manage to put on an amazing event next year – a huge celebration of New York’s recovery.
Finally, I know New Yorkers are resilient. I know they will come back from this stronger than ever. But less than a week after a hurricane is not the time to put on a big event, not when people are still hunting for missing family members. I wasn’t registered, but I wouldn’t have felt right being there.