NYC Marathon 2012 - My $.02
There are a few things that I love. Among them are my job, my athletes and my city. Every year I look forward to watching my friends, colleagues, clients, and an additional 40,000 or so runners as they race the NYC Marathon. And because so much of my life revolves around these things, I'm the first to admit that I live in a strange little world and that perhaps my priorities are a little skewed at times. Despite my athlete-centric perspective, and despite the fact that I am very happy for the aforementioned friends, clients, team members and others who will get to run the marathon on Sunday, I disagree with the decision to hold the race. New York City is resilient. We don't need to stage a marathon to prove that. I was proud to run the marathon in 2001, in the wake of 9/11. I thought it was important for us to go on and return to normalcy to whatever extent that was ever going to be possible. But with the loss of life and property, significant sections of our city without electricity, two major hospitals evacuated, businesses closed, families living in shelters, and mass transit barely running, all as the result of Hurricane Sandy, now is not the time for the city to host the marathon. We have finite resources, and the NYPD, EMS and others - who are already working overtime - have more important and pressing matters to attend to. I'm all for bouncing back, but only after mourning and after helping those who haven't been able to sleep in their own homes since Monday. As seriously as I take racing, even I realize that there are more important things.
Mayor Bloomberg spoke of the positive economic impact of the Marathon, and figures from $300-400 million have been thrown around. But that presumes that all of the 20,000+ runners from outside of NYC can get here, that their hotels have power, that those displaced by the hurricane aren't in those hotels, and that they can get around the city. In fact, it's highly likely that the majority of the tourists who were planning to race can or will make it here, so holding the race will not have nearly the benefit that it usually does. And don't forget that some of the tourists who do arrive at their hotels will displace New Yorkers who are staying in those hotels until their homes regain power and running water.
Don't get me wrong. I'm happy for my friends, athletes and teammates who have worked so hard and will get the opportunity to race. Fot their sake, I'm glad that the race is a go. I've been getting emails from my athletes asking if I think it's disrespectful for them to run. My unequivocal answer is no. While I think it's misguided for the city and NYRR to hold the race, since they are having it, I am 100% behind my people running it. From a racing point of view, the weather is looking great and the smaller field will ease congestion, so we should see some fast times. And the city will be out there to support the runners. I suspect that this will be a memorable and significant race for those who have done it.
I realize that this was not a simple process for the City or NYRR, and that no matter what they chose, there would be unhappy people. I don't envy the having to make the decision, but ultimately, I think the made the wrong choice.
Like so many other New Yorkers, I will be out cheering for all the runners on Sunday. I expect and hope that they have a memorable and positive experience. While I don't support the decision made by the city, I fully support the marathoners.