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NYC Marathon Cancelled
November 2, 2012 5:52 PM   Subscribe

Bloomberg finally cancels NYC Marathon Reversing his earlier position, Mayor Bloomberg decides to cancel this year's marathon.

"The biggest question was transporting thousands of runners to the starting line on Staten Island, which was ravaged by the storm."

Outrage had been building steadily; many questioned the logic of providing food, water, sanitation, resources and law enforcement presence to the event participants & spectators when so many residents are struggling without those very items.
posted by I_Love_Bananas (143 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
You'd think this would have been a no-brainer....

In any case, I'm glad they did. It was looking like a pretty tacky move on Bloomberg's part.
posted by Kitteh at 5:54 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Excellent !!!
How could NYC possibly hold a marathon when people in the city are without power, without running water, lost their homes and are unsure when life will return to normal.
This is a good decision - first things first, then a marathon.
posted by seawallrunner at 5:56 PM on November 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


How could NYC possibly hold a marathon when people in the city are without power, without running water, lost their homes and are unsure when life will return to normal.

Well, they hold the marathon amid those conditions every year.
posted by griphus at 6:06 PM on November 2, 2012 [189 favorites]


They should have come to this decision easily and early, not at the last minute like this. However, as someone who's worked as a NYC Marathon Medic for years, I'm pretty confident that little, if any marathon resources (such as water and volunteers, etc) will be redirected to relief efforts since its owned/coordinated by NYRR and not the city. The one thing that WILL be redirected is PD/FD/EMS manpower, which will be helpful.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:06 PM on November 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Let's hope they can hope to hold an election.
posted by SomaSoda at 6:06 PM on November 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Agreed, blaneyphoto. I cannot understand who would have thought holding the event would have been any sort of right. The resulting bad press (and you KNOW there would have been a ton) would have been devastating. The Staten Island focus of the past couple of days was, IMO, a key part of the change in attitude. And even though the food/water/supplies would have been supplied by the event organizers, perception would be reality. That truth would have been overshadowed by, "ZOMG! Look at all that bottled water when my house has none!!" Or... I have no house.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:08 PM on November 2, 2012


To echo everyone else, I am surprised the mayor has the stamina and endurance to keep running with this bad idea. And for so long
posted by mulligan at 6:10 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now if only we could find a way to cancel St Patrick's Day.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:14 PM on November 2, 2012 [22 favorites]


well, i for one am glad he was shamed into reversing course.
posted by liza at 6:15 PM on November 2, 2012


They were going to go ahead but the size of the trophy was too large
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:20 PM on November 2, 2012


How could NYC possibly hold a marathon when people in the city are without power, without running water, lost their homes and are unsure when life will return to normal.

Well, they hold the marathon amid those conditions every year.


Applause for this comment, griphus.


To echo everyone else, I am surprised the mayor has the stamina and endurance to keep running with this bad idea. And for so long


I think there was probably a lot of controversy behind the scenes on this for the last few days, and Bloomberg was the public face on the topic saying it was going ahead until they figured it out. Then with the mounting opposition they made a call.

I'm pretty confident that little, if any marathon resources (such as water and volunteers, etc)

I said this in the other Sandy thread, but I saw a lot of comments about how the volunteers and runners should be helping out with relief efforts instead of participating in the marathon. That's ridiculous. Those volunteers signed up to work on the marathon months ago, we can't just reassign them to Sandy. They are also managed by NYRR not the city.

Also, runners came from all over the world to participate. If we had Americans going to India for some spiritual retreat and there was a train crash in the town that hurt/killed a lot of people, would we expect the Americans to stop what they were doing and help out? Probably not.
posted by sweetkid at 6:21 PM on November 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's so shitty that they waited so long to cancel. Many, many people are undoubtedly already in NY for the marathon, or are en route. Had they made the proper decision two days ago, no one would have traveled needlessly.
posted by OmieWise at 6:22 PM on November 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


I lived in NYC for a few years, am in coastal CT now. We had to evac our neighborhood for the storm, but CT didn't get nearly the damage of SI or NJ; we're back home with power and all the rest.

I'm pretty torn about this. I really hoped the marathon could go on. What I always loved about NYC was the feeling that the President could be staying in a hotel 3 blocks in one direction, a giant parade going down a street 3 blocks the other way, and you could still go about your business and navigate succesfully - in contrast to, say, Boston, which becomes impassible at the drop of a Red Sox cap. I'm not saying they should've done the race - I just wish that they were far along enough in recovery to have made it possible.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:22 PM on November 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


It was a very good decision made three days too late. It was pretty obvious to me on Tuesday they were going to have to cancel, and NYRR's repeated insistence on trying to hold the marathon made the rancor of the city worse and worse by the hour. The social media was what tipped the scales today, after landing on the front page of the NY Post.

Now, however, they have the PR issue of 30,000 unhappy runners, some of whom are stranded here for no reason, having to pay hotel fees and for flights they wouldn't have taken if it had been cancelled earlier in the week.

Not to say that these runners are in a worse position than anyone who suffered from the storm; they aren't. But this could have been handled a lot better.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:23 PM on November 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


Had they made the proper decision two days ago, no one would have traveled needlessly.

Yes, but think about how much less lost revenue the city and its businesses will see as a result of the late-minute cancellation.

Not saying that was behind the decision, but still. It's hard not to be cynical.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:26 PM on November 2, 2012 [13 favorites]


This should have been a no-brainer, but at least they did the right thing. Eventually.
posted by tommasz at 6:26 PM on November 2, 2012


Mudpuppie, great minds run in the same channels, if you know what I mean. I think your cynicism is justified.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:28 PM on November 2, 2012


mudpuppie, yeah, I get your point. I do think they honestly wanted to try and run it, but it sounds like there were going to be safety concerns that they were not prepared to deal with.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:31 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wishful thinking on their part that they could go ahead with the race. Many New Yorker's first reaction is going to be "We can handle anything". The reality is there was no way they could have held the race even if we were much further along with the cleanup.

My mom called to ask me if I was dumpster diving for food or had seen any sharks yet. She said she saw on the news people not 20 blocks away eating out of dumpsters and dodging sharks swimming on Broadway.We can't have a marathon when it seems a significant portion of the population believes Manhattan is now infested with sharks.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:32 PM on November 2, 2012 [14 favorites]


...Now that everyone has flown in, paid for their travel and lodging, made plans centering around the marathon...

Wow. What an asshole. Trolling for tourists riiight up until the very last minute. Real class, Bloomberg!

/ Then again... People who fly in to see other people run? Meh. They'd just have spent their money on something even more pointless, so I guess, no harm done.
posted by pla at 6:35 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


People have ridiculous misconceptions about Manhattan though. I got kind of irritated with all the "There are TREES in Manhattan?" comments on Facebook during the storm, you know, because we had trees falling over and killing people so yes we have trees.
posted by sweetkid at 6:35 PM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ad hominem, people in my brother's part of town (Alphabet City) were actually dumpster diving. I don't think he saw any sharks though. The shark picture was from Queens.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:36 PM on November 2, 2012


I said this in the other Sandy thread, but I saw a lot of comments about how the volunteers and runners should be helping out with relief efforts instead of participating in the marathon. That's ridiculous. Those volunteers signed up to work on the marathon months ago, we can't just reassign them to Sandy. They are also managed by NYRR not the city.
posted by sweetkid


Yes, this is right on.
I can only speak to the medical volunteer aspect of things, but the vast majority of medical volunteers would not be prepared for relief efforts anyway. I happen to be a Wilderness EMT trained in improvised long term care, which is a good fit for disaster relief, but the average massage therapist/first year med student/CNA/etc probably is going to be no more help than a random person - which is to say, very little. Also, yes - volunteers signed up for a specific commitment quite some time ago. They can't be drafted into a job that would almost certainly be a long term situation. If it was easy to bring volunteers in and out for a day, it'd be quite easy to just rescue/evac those in need of help... and obviously that isn't the case.

Its all really unfortunate and if nothing else I hope this helps shape NYRR policy going forward.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:39 PM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's tree sharks actually. They were fine until the storm came. Now, you know, habitat loss.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:39 PM on November 2, 2012 [33 favorites]


As a runner I'm a little disappointed that the event won't go on (no wasn't entered), but agree that it should have been cancelled far earlier. On the other hand, there are no guarantees in life. You take the risk by getting on that plane in a situation like this. You could just as easily get hurt or get sick and not be able to run regardless of conditions.

If you got on a plane and you're now 'stranded' in NYC (the horror!) and you aren't running, make the best of the weekend. If your hotel room isn't ready be glad that it's only the weekend and not your house. If you find yourself without anything to do, maybe look to see if there's some place you can't spend the morning volunteering somewhere. Or, go for a long run in Central Park (if that's possible) and have a nice NYC experience. Relax. It's just a race. It's not the end of the world. Life goes on.
posted by jimmythefish at 6:39 PM on November 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


I said this in the other Sandy thread, but I saw a lot of comments about how the volunteers and runners should be helping out with relief efforts instead of participating in the marathon. That's ridiculous. Those volunteers signed up to work on the marathon months ago, we can't just reassign them to Sandy. They are also managed by NYRR not the city.
There is a difference between people on social media saying that volunteers for the cancelled marathon should volunteer to help with relief efforts and Bloomberg saying that the marathon volunteers must help with relief. The former is perfectly reasonable, the latter is not.

Of course, it is up to the volunteers to make up their mind, but the right thing to do is farily obvious (assuming that volunteer work is available that a given volunteer has sufficient skills or physical ability to do).
posted by b1tr0t at 6:40 PM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Many New Yorker's first reaction is going to be "We can handle anything".

Anecdotally, many if not most people who actually live here were very much against having the marathon on Sunday. I believe it may be the first time in recorded history that dyed-in-the-wool Occupy organizers were unironically posting the Post's front page on Facebook.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:40 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


jimmythefish, I agree with you... only, there's a LOT of them. LOL. I will be avoiding Central Park at all costs this weekend, and doing my long runs elsewhere.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:41 PM on November 2, 2012


In other words: If you are willing to volunteer to help out with a sporting event, but not the humanitarian disaster happening in the same place you are an asshole. (unless it would be dangerous for you to help, or you are otherwise unable, or they don't actually need anyone to help).
posted by b1tr0t at 6:43 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, now I'm going to feel all awkward every time I walk by the giant marathon-themed multimedia installation in the 59th St. subway station.
posted by Sokka shot first at 6:43 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a difference between people on social media saying that volunteers for the cancelled marathon should not volunteer to help with relief efforts and Bloomberg saying that the marathon volunteers must help with relief. The former is perfectly reasonable, the latter is not.

I think you meant to say that social media was saying that volunteers for the cancelled marathon SHOULD volunteer for relief? (instead of not)

Anyway, no it's not like Bloomberg mandating that they do but it's still a sort of willfully naive view of how systems work and how people are. It's not like if we cancel the marathon the volunteers just slide into new volunteer things for Sandy. There are also volunteers at dog rescues, pro life organizations, indie film projects, on and on who will be volunteering this weekend, should they be volunteering for Sandy, too? I mean I think everyone should help as much as they can but it doesn't make sense that all people who decide to be "volunteers" for one thing can just go on to a completely different thing, even if it's something on this scale.
posted by sweetkid at 6:46 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


sweetkid - yeah, I've since edited that typo out.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:47 PM on November 2, 2012


I have a co-worker who flew to the US to run in the marathon.
When I heard it was only just cancelled I was shocked. We've been assuming for the past week that it was delayed (if not outright cancelled) for the past few days. It just seemed so obvious to us.
posted by Mezentian at 6:48 PM on November 2, 2012


I can only speak to the medical volunteer aspect of things, but the vast majority of medical volunteers would not be prepared for relief efforts anyway.

Not trying to pick a fight or anything, but I'm on a few Sandy volunteer mailing lists, and the vast, vast majority of the need is for people carrying supplies up stairs to elderly people stuck in their apartments, checking in on folks without heat or electricity to make sure they're okay, and clearing up debris from parks. The medical need is pretty low, at least in Manhattan-- people are either more or less healthy but in crappy conditions or already dead.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:53 PM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


We can't have a marathon when it seems a significant portion of the population believes Manhattan is now infested with sharks.

So, there's actually some (very, very, very, very small) basis for Sharknado?
posted by Mezentian at 6:53 PM on November 2, 2012


In other words: If you are willing to volunteer to help out with a sporting event, but not the humanitarian disaster happening in the same place you are an asshole.

I think it would be a good idea for the marathon website to offer suggestions, but a lot of people just won't have the resources or local support to volunteer effectively. It may be better for them just to simply come to NYC and spend their money and generally get on with it. As said above it's impossible to expect the runners to volunteer. It's not fair to put that on them.
posted by jimmythefish at 6:55 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


4 times around Central Park, tack on a couple of miles and change at the end, and Bob's your uncle.
posted by chinston at 6:57 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


It would have been easy to turn it into a triathlon.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:04 PM on November 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


The whole "volunteer" argument is quite a red herring. The argument's core is about city resources, volunteers are larger in number but much smaller in actual applicability.

If transportation could have handled the number of people to Staten, and if Staten wasn't suffering like they were, it would still be a bad allocation of resources. All of those things were obvious two days ago, done.

The degree to which changing plans then versus changing plans now would affect runners' plans is fairly large, but it's not like they would get full refunds on any travel arrangements. I'm really sorrt for the runners - they have trained and worked for this - but not so bad that I'd be willing to leave the areas requiring emergency and law enforcement protection with fewer resources.

I'm married to a marathon runner, I get the heartbreak, but I still would make the same decision.
posted by abulafa at 7:04 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, there's actual some (very, very, very, very small) basis for Sharknado?

So it seems. She lived here for 30+ years so I don't even want to know what her friends and neighbors out there in the sticks think.

The dumpster diving thing was mind boggling too. No doubt there are people dumpster diving in areas where there is no deliveries and it is too far, or dangerous,to walk to the UWS where we have loads of food.

What she saw on the news was something different.What she saw was that fancy restaurants are still open and throwing out food. Hungry wreches, once middle class Manhattanites were driven to desperation and are surviving on the garbage of 4 star restaurants. If 4 star restaurants are open clearly there is food to be had.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:06 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why didn't they just relocate the marathon to somewhere less affected?
posted by srboisvert at 7:07 PM on November 2, 2012


Why didn't they just relocate the marathon to somewhere less affected?

I don't know what this means. The whole city was affected.
posted by sweetkid at 7:08 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mary W. said they looked at a bunch of different options (making it a 10 mile race, switching the route, having an elite only race) and all of those options were unviable.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:10 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wish they could have just had the marathon go around one city block for 26.2 miles, a la the 3100 Mile Self Transcendence Race.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:14 PM on November 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


Maybe they can all stay in their hotel rooms, or go out somplace out of the way but visible, and run in place for a few hours. As a symbolic act of support.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:18 PM on November 2, 2012


If we had Americans going to India for some spiritual retreat and there was a train crash in the town that hurt/killed a lot of people, would we expect the Americans to stop what they were doing and help out? Probably not.

Uh, yeah, yeah I would. Wouldn't be very "spiritual" not to.
posted by waitingtoderail at 7:21 PM on November 2, 2012 [20 favorites]


Gary's my uncle.
posted by notyou at 7:22 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe a distributed marathon. They go to the nearest NYSC and run on a treadmill for 26 miles. Do it in shifts. God knows we have enough gyms.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:26 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought all of the airports were still shut down. How the fuck are people even flying to NYC for a race? Or finding hotel rooms that they can stay in?

This shark tree thing is reminding me of an art exhibit my cousin saw in Massachusetts once...
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:34 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like my dad's idea.
posted by brundlefly at 7:37 PM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why didn't they just relocate the marathon to somewhere less affected?

I don't know what this means. The whole city was affected.


Just move the marathon to a nearby city a bit further inland that isn't suffering from Sandy's effects and run it there.
posted by srboisvert at 7:45 PM on November 2, 2012


I don't know what this means. The whole city was affected.

Just move the marathon to a nearby city a bit further inland that isn't suffering from Sandy's effects and run it there.


You know it's the New York City marathon, right?
posted by sweetkid at 7:47 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know it's the New York City marathon, right?

New York City (Tampa) Marathon.
posted by Forktine at 7:51 PM on November 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


Regarding medical personnel, I did hear some of the EMTs who were volunteering at an emergency shelter last night talking about manning the race. On the one hand, they would have missed a day, big whoop. On the other hand, the shelter is actively seeking more volunteers with medical training, because they're short staffed.

More important might be the outsize police presence which is usually needed for marathon crowd control, but is currently needed for directing traffic, manning bus lines, patrolling unlit areas, and preventing knife fights at gas stations. I'm not sure the NYPD has enough officers to do both at once.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 7:58 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just move the marathon to a nearby city a bit further inland that isn't suffering from Sandy's effects and run it there.

Moving the NYC Marathon to, say, Philadelphia would be much too difficult and expensive. And yes, you'd need to go about as far as Philly to get out of Sandy's way.

Even if you were to stage the marathon in, say, the less ravaged parts of Brooklyn, you're still blocking off traffic and diverting considerable resources.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:00 PM on November 2, 2012


The current authorized uniformed strength is 36,000. At big events cops are like 10 deep on every corner. Short of fighting a war with the entire state of New Jersey we have enough cops for just about anything.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:06 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


What we really have to worry about is when the sharks swim to the airport to fight the jets.
posted by The Whelk at 8:08 PM on November 2, 2012 [28 favorites]


Not enough Paul Ryan jokes.
posted by fleacircus at 8:13 PM on November 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


What we really have to worry about is when the sharks swim to the airport to fight the jets.
posted by The Whelk


Well, Teterboro is pretty much underwater, so that might not be so difficult.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:20 PM on November 2, 2012


What we really have to worry about is when the sharks swim to the airport to fight the jets.

Minnows can beat the Jets. There is no need for sharks.
posted by srboisvert at 8:20 PM on November 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, we could have pulled it off. But it was leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Even a couple of the die hard runners I know we're constantly trying to justify it on Facebook. I think Bloomberg had it right, better to push it off and not taint the marathon. Which is exactly what would have happened regardless of their intentions. And yes in a perfect world we would have figured this out a couple of days ago, but I'll give everyone the benefit of the doubt when a third of the city is underwater.

I hope all the runners make the best of it and I'm sorry you all missed the day you worked so hard for, and I hope we keep pulling together as a city and healing.

I'm also quite proud of my fellow New Yorkers and east coasters. Chins up.
posted by slapshot57 at 8:22 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought all of the airports were still shut down. How the fuck are people even flying to NYC for a race? Or finding hotel rooms that they can stay in?

My co-worker was supposed to run in it, first time. Last evening he picked up a traveler whose flight from Europe had been diverted to Canada on Tuesday. They were to drive down from Vermont today. We all thought it was crazy that the marathon was going on, but NYRR was insistent it was, and with the amount invested in just the entry fee, he wasn't going to not be there if it happened.

Insult to injury is that they insisted everyone show up early to collect race packets, so he lost an extra day of vacation time driving down to NYC today. I'm sure I'll hear about it Monday. The marathon should have been cancelled by noon on Tuesday.
posted by meinvt at 8:31 PM on November 2, 2012 [4 favorites]



If we had Americans going to India for some spiritual retreat and there was a train crash in the town that hurt/killed a lot of people, would we expect the Americans to stop what they were doing and help out? Probably not.

Uh, yeah, yeah I would. Wouldn't be very "spiritual" not to.


I agree, but my point is that this would never, ever come up as something required or even requested of those people. Just would not happen.
posted by sweetkid at 8:52 PM on November 2, 2012


There are still a number of other marathons coming up in November for runners who don't want all that training and preparation to go to waste. It would be a nice gesture for some of those marathons to reach out to NYC entrants with a waived fee and invitation to run.
posted by stagewhisper at 8:57 PM on November 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


I agree, but my point is that this would never, ever come up as something required or even requested of those people. Just would not happen.

Really? Your hypothetical seems awfully similar to the controversy over cruise ships docking near earthquake-ravaged Haiti. People found the ship stops to be in very poor taste, even though the government and the locals needed the money.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:59 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Were they expected to volunteer? No, they were not. That's not similar at all.
posted by sweetkid at 9:02 PM on November 2, 2012


As someone who was registered to run it, I am glad it was canceled, and for almost too many reasons to mention.

The bridges and major roadways that would have had to be closed (the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the Queensboro bridge, 4th avenue in Brooklyn, parts of 1st avenue and 5th avenue in Manhattan) would have made a bad traffic situation worse-- yes, it would have been a Sunday, when traffic usually isn't bad, but this isn't a 'usually' situation. It might have been the first time families were able to get out and volunteer or deliver goods they wanted to donate-- making it harder on them would not have been right.

There is no guarantee that no resources would have been diverted. The marathon requires many police, who have been working crazy hours. They don't need to give up their Sundays to make sure a bunch of amateur runners don't get hit by angry motorists.

Not to mention ridiculous logistics-- I kept turning over in my head how on earth I was going to get home. My (ridiculous) plan was to worry about it after I'd finished, but it took me over 3 hours to get home from work tonight-- and a lot of that was standing and walking. I would not want to deal with it after running a marathon.

Mainly it was just leaving a bad taste in my mouth-- and a pit in my stomach-- going somewhere where so much devastation had been (Staten Island)... and... doing nothing to help. Just turning around, leaving it, running as fast as possible in the other direction. The thought of doing that was making me sick, even as much as I'd been looking forward to this and even as hard as I've worked.

...That said...

It should have been canceled Tuesday, because of the devastation wreaked by the hurricane, not canceled Friday night because of the outcry of some bullies on social media. It is one thing to express that it shouldn't be run, it is quite another to make some of the statements I'd been seeing, like that any runner who runs it 'has blood on their hands'. Most of the runners I know who are most disappointed at the cancellation were charity runners, who had raised thousands of dollars for charities that were meaningful to them. Does someone who raises a bunch of money for cancer research (or poverty eradication, or to fight hunger) really have blood on their hands because they would actually like to complete the race they told their donors they were running to raise money? They were effective in shaming the mayor to do the right thing, but so much vitriol was directed towards the runners, and I am worried about the reputation of the running community in New York. You would think, from some of the opinions expressed, that the runners were the ones pushing for the race to go on, when many (if not most, at least of the ones I know) were actually in favor of cancellation.

I also don't think the would- be runners or volunteers should be made to feel particularly guilty about being willing to spend a few hours on a Sunday doing a leisure activity when much of the city will probably spend a few hours this weekend watching TV, going to movies, going to shows, shopping, etc. Yes, we should probably all the volunteering, but I don't think I should feel any more guilty for spending a few hours running a marathon than if I'd been planning to spend my Sunday eating a leisurely brunch and then seeing a movie. It is as if all 'effortful' work is equal-- because you're doing something that requires effort, you should be doing this one thing that requires effort. I don't know, I just don't think that everyone in NYC doing/wanting to do anything that is on the border of 'effortful' and 'fun/leisure', whether it is NaNoWriMo or programming or writing music or art or sports has some responsibility to be helping out somehow instead. A good thing to do? Yes. Their responsibility? No, not in my opinion.
posted by matcha action at 9:08 PM on November 2, 2012 [32 favorites]


It's trickier because many people thought they shouldn't be docking in the first place. Obviously, the tourists weren't already in Haiti, as in your spiritual retreat hypo.

That said, and on a mostly unrelated note, I note with some bitter amusement that a woman in the article felt that the tourists should have instead given money to local artisans so that they could go back home and assist in the relief effort. Why Haitians from Labadee should be expected to go "home" to Port-au-Prince, where they don't live, is quite...something, and expecting those Haitians can simply be paid to take care of Haiti also quite...something.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:08 PM on November 2, 2012


Sticherbeast : Moving the NYC Marathon to, say, Philadelphia would be much too difficult and expensive. And yes, you'd need to go about as far as Philly to get out of Sandy's way.

Why? "Expensive" for the people of New York getting screwed anyway by cancelling it, and "difficult" to explain to voters that you let a cash cow move to another city, perhaps.

Philly sits less than 100mi from NYC. No biggie. Though I'd suggest somewhere like Allentown instead, as a hair closer and more inland.

You can measure out 26 miles anywhere. You can't, however, whore yourself out to the media somewhere you don't have under a complete PR lockdown. That, and only that, presents a real barrier to moving the whole thing 50 miles inland along a random untouched stretch of, say, rt22 or 28. Anyone telling you otherwise has something to sell you - Literally.
posted by pla at 9:08 PM on November 2, 2012



Why? "Expensive" for the people of New York getting screwed anyway by cancelling it, and "difficult" to explain to voters that you let a cash cow move to another city, perhaps.

Philly sits less than 100mi from NYC. No biggie.


This is completely absurd. Philly is not New York. The whole point of the marathon is to unite the five boroughs in a common positive goal that the world comes to see. It is a far, far better idea to just cancel it than to even think about moving it. Not to mention logistics, state regulations, the fact that New York Road Runners has nothing to do with Philly...
posted by sweetkid at 9:16 PM on November 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


The Russians would be holding a marathon, you better damn believe it, and it would be the best run marathon you've ever seen, with global media coverage and state-of-the-art facilities and in-race resources available!

We're not the fucking Russians. We're not invincible Iron Men. We're ordinary people, small and plain, who are only tough when they really, really have to be. Right now, we're too busy being immensely, incredibly tough helping out our countrymen to hold a footrace through a disaster zone, thanks.

(On the way home from work, on a little highway, there was a caravan of utility trucks - cherry pickers and post-hole augers and cable trucks and the like, thirty long - headed out from Aquidneck Island, where all power was restored, to the interstate. Everyone on the road knew they were headed south to New York and New Jersey, and we were all flashing our lights and honking our horns and waving. Good luck, godspeed, go get 'em!)
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:21 PM on November 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


Nearly every major city has a marathon. Philadelphia's is two weeks from now. The effort put in to put on a major marathon takes months-- they cannot just move everything from one city to another. The people signed up to run this race signed up for the NYC marathon, not the Philadelphia marathon or the Pittsburgh marathon, and they did so for a reason, whatever that may be. They are not interchangeable.
posted by matcha action at 9:22 PM on November 2, 2012 [16 favorites]


pla, 26 miles in one location doesn't really equal 26 miles in another. Marathon runners know which courses are fast and which are slow; you can't just move a race over 100 miles and expect runners from all over the world to be all "oh, the NYC marathon is now in Allentown PA, no prob."

It's not about the race being a "cash cow" for NYC (although that was clearly, and legitimately under the circumstances, a big consideration for Bloomberg)--it's about runners knowing a certain course--and about significant records being set in that specific location.
posted by torticat at 9:25 PM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


torticat : it's about runners knowing a certain course--and about significant records being set in that specific location.

Okay, that, I can accept.

Course conditions have changed beyond the expected deviation from norm. Game off.
posted by pla at 9:29 PM on November 2, 2012


Was there any discussion about turning it into a half marathon starting at 1st ave and 59th Street? Or have it start at the end, with the runners going crosstown to 1st ave at 72nd street.
posted by anon4now at 9:49 PM on November 2, 2012


There was apparently a lot of discussion of different possibilities, including turning it into a 10-mile race or just having it be an elites-only race, which would have taken 2-3 hours instead of all day. I think in the end the organizers thought that the animosity towards the runners might make it a dangerous situation, regardless of the areas in which they were running.
posted by matcha action at 9:52 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Okay. Fine. It's canceled. Now what am I supposed to do with all these bananas?
posted by etc. at 10:49 PM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


If we had Americans going to India for some spiritual retreat and there was a train crash in the town that hurt/killed a lot of people, would we expect the Americans to stop what they were doing and help out?

If they had the skills I would absolutely expect them to stop and help out. Absolutely zero question. Of course I have some Midwestern values going on, so maybe I'm atypical.

I dont think so though. I went through this exercise with a group of Americans in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami and nobody even raised the idea of "Well it's their problem, we didn't come here for this."
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:06 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Feed them to the sharks, I guess.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:06 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


At 4:40AM this morning I was on a San Francisco airport shuttle with a marathoner couple and their four year old headed for New York. The dad said they had a long layover in St Louis. If I had to guess I'd say they landed at La Guardia just in time for the announcement.

Suck.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:11 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


If we had Americans going to India for some spiritual retreat and there was a train crash in the town that hurt/killed a lot of people, would we expect the Americans to stop what they were doing and help out?

If it's reasonably possible for them to help, and their help would actually be useful (many volunteers just get in the way), then of course they should.

How is this even a question?
posted by Malor at 11:14 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Two things! 1. Power's back in much of lower manhattan. Hi if you're reading this lower hattanites! 2. The Classical insta-published a great piece about the race saying that it should have been canceled sooner but that anyone claiming to speak for all new yorkers probably doesn't get what those words mean, except for the man elected to do so, who failed to do so, in this instance.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:18 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


and 3. Race2Recover is a group enabling runners to donate their hotel rooms to folks in new york affected by the storm that need them. They;ve got a bunch so far, seems like a great effort.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:20 PM on November 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Marathons are just some of the weirdest things in the world to me. I just don't get them. Even on the best of days, shutting down the major streets of large cities so some people can run is really incomprehensible to me. I'm not being snarky or anything. I just don't have the part of the brain needed to understand why they happen. (I feel the same way about mountain climbing, except I've never been stuck in traffic for an hour because somebody wanted to climb a mountain).
posted by Bookhouse at 11:23 PM on November 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


The medical need is pretty low, at least in Manhattan-- people are either more or less healthy but in crappy conditions or already dead.

Not sure what New York you're living in. Just finished emergency medicine residency in Manhattan 2 years ago and the remaining 5 hospitals in Manhattan (4 are closed) are being absolutely over-run. Beth Israel ED had 183 patients in it at one point. It's a small ER.

Roosevelt has between 40 and 70 patients in the ER at all times, when it's typically no more than 20 or 30.

Patients are walking in needing dialysis, medical followup, medical evaluation, and almost every single health care center below 34th Street (clinic, office, hospital, dialysis center) is closed and without power. The doctors, nurses, and staff have been working over-time, many of them having spent 3 days sleeping in the hospital to care for patients.

Cancelling the marathon is preventing NYC health care from absolutely collapsing. I've worked the day of the marathon. It easily brings many more patients to the ER than on a normal day.
posted by gramcracker at 11:51 PM on November 2, 2012 [14 favorites]


just don't get them. Even on the best of days, shutting down the major streets of large cities so some people can run is really incomprehensible to me

I don't know how it works in other cities but here we shut down streets for any reason at all, sometimes no reason. We are about the fundamental primacy of the pedestrian. We shut down streets for street fairs, parades, marathons and sometimes on Friday and Saturday nights we shut down streets just to give drunk people more room to walk. The block I live on is closed to cars after dark for no discernable reason. New parts of Manhattan are closing to traffic every day. We are creating giant outdoor pedestrian malls, completely devoid of cars, full of picturesque white tables and chairs. We just don't like cars I think.

The Classical insta-published a great piece about the race saying that it should have been canceled sooner but that anyone claiming to speak for all new yorkers probably doesn't get what those words mean

I like that article in that it points out that there are many New Yorks. I want to say that our unofficial motto is "a city of neighborhoods" but I am probably wrong. It happens less frequently now I'm sure but there was a good hundred years where people were born, lived , and died in the same 10 square blocks. Each neighborhood a village with a distinct feel and culture. I don't think the article is correct in that everyone who lives here is a New Yorker, I think some call themselves a New Yorker but deep down they aren't, they are here on a lark and will be gone as soon as the whim strikes them.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:54 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of the best things about running is that you can do it anywhere. Just slip on your nikes and trot out the front door. If you trained for this race, be happy you were a part of an historic event, in a small and probably unexpected way.

But what will you benefit from all those months training? Why did you decide you needed to do this? Wherever you are, wake up early Sunday morning, focused and rested. Walk out the front door and run the race you planned to do all along.
posted by scelerat at 12:31 AM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know people like to rally 'round the flag during a crisis but this decision shows you just how completely out of touch people like Bloomberg actually are. I mean, I guess if you're used getting to work by helicopter maybe you figure you'll just muddle through until the cleaning-staff are back to a full crew. It's a small thing but it shows you where Bloomberg is wrt the rest of NYC, or at least those people who aren't doing the commute rooftop to rooftop.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:55 AM on November 3, 2012


You are wrong, Bloomberg is famous for routinely taking the subway to work.
posted by tractorfeed at 2:32 AM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am a marathoner, and I approve and support the decision to cancel the race.
posted by SillyShepherd at 3:38 AM on November 3, 2012


I think it is good that it was cancelled, and in retrospect it would have been better to cancel it earlier. On the other hand, I can totally see why Bloomberg would be reluctant to cancel it until it was clear that the city would not be ready. If it were me, I would have acknowledged early on that it could be cancelled if the city wasn't ready. I'm not sure if he did that or not.
posted by snofoam at 4:36 AM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you trained for this race, be happy you were a part of an historic event, in a small and probably unexpected way.

Yeah, that t-shirt and bib has got to be a collector's item.
posted by smackfu at 5:50 AM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mayor takes the subway -- by way of SUV (nytimes)
posted by armacy at 6:13 AM on November 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Cancelling the marathon is preventing NYC health care from absolutely collapsing. I've worked the day of the marathon. It easily brings many more patients to the ER than on a normal day.

Didn't know this, and it makes me even more glad the marathon was cancelled. My point was that there are so many non-medical volunteer opportunities that if some of the 40,000 runners already in the city did decide to volunteer, the fact that they don't have medical training wouldn't be a barrier to them helping out (because there's so much need for non-specialized work).
posted by oinopaponton at 6:57 AM on November 3, 2012


Who even cares about a corporate media event? Hate it every year already. Poor ING Bank, how will they ever recover the loss? Pshaw.

Power back in West Village, water coming soon!
posted by spitbull at 6:57 AM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty confident that there will be runners who say, "Screw it, we're running anyway." Civil disobedience, human spirit...solidarity...most of the people who run the marathon don't do it for the corporate sponsors on the t-shirt they get at the end of the race, they do it because they are runners. Sunday might be interesting.
posted by Chuffy at 7:25 AM on November 3, 2012


Ill be the first to say that I think marathons are silly. Why anyone would willingly run 26.2 miles is beyond me- so don't think that I'm a die hard fan here.

Canceling the race seems like the right move but i think that if it really was impossible to cancel the race on Tuesday or Wednesday, then they should've just gone through with the darn thing. This seems like a HUGE financial mess for all parties involved. Yes, a couple hundred bucks or even a few thousand spent on hotel/airfare/other travel pales in comparison to people that have lost their homes and family members. But it's not chump change! Now we have hundreds of tourists who are out a substantial period of money- some of which could have been recouped if the race had been canceled a few days ago. Now all the tourists that are here are already zapping resources without giving back via charity pledges given that the race was run. Hotel rooms are already limited, the bus/shuttle bus system is overloaded, people who drove in are buying the limited gas available, etc etc. And I'm sure they're pissed that at the city they came all the way here only to have the rug yanked out from under them. If I was an international runner, I doubt I'd be recommending NYC vacations to any of my friends for quite a while.

And with regards to the poster suggesting the race route be changed, I agree. I don't really understand why the race couldn't just be run in or around the direct perimeter of Central Park for however long it would take to get to 26.2 miles. Midtown is pretty much unaffected by the storm.

I do hope that NYRR will allow runners who were selected via lottery to automatically be enrolled in next years marathon- if they even want to return. I don't see how that could possibly hurt them or diminish the caliber of the race, seeing as how they were randomly selected in the first place.
posted by lovelygirl at 7:31 AM on November 3, 2012


Who even cares about a corporate media event?

Uh...well a lot of people seem to enjoy the tradition of it. People like running it. Elites make a few bucks. Oh, and a quick bit of math suggests that if the sponsor even just covers cost to the city along with the million bucks or so in entrance fees, there's the tiny matter that each entrant from somewhere else (let's say 30,000) probably drops an average of $750 in NYC when they're in town. Probably more like a grand...but even if it's $500 the injection to the economy is close to $15 million. Probably more like 30. Some local businesses care, quite frankly.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:33 AM on November 3, 2012


Chuffy, there are LOTS of runners who are planning to try the route anyway.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:41 AM on November 3, 2012


They should hook up power generators to the treadmills and have the runners run to generate electricity. Who ever generates the most should get a Nathans Hot Dog.
posted by Renoroc at 7:42 AM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Marathons are just some of the weirdest things in the world to me. I just don't get them. Even on the best of days, shutting down the major streets of large cities so some people can run is really incomprehensible to me.

I saw a guy in a wheelchair get hit by a car crossing the street just next to my house. He died. Nothing was mentioned in the paper or the news. People get hit by cars every day and no one says anything.

So, yeah, when it comes to roadways, humans can be pretty crazy sometimes. But, then again, we were walking and running before we had cars, and we will be walking and running long after they are gone. It's a natural human activity.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:56 AM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, I can't think how Bloomburg could have handled this worse. If he'd canceled it on Tuesday, runners would have been mad but they would have had a chance to recoup some losses. Or if he'd let the race go through, lots of people would have been mad at him but at least the racers would have been happy. He managed to make everyone mad at him. Good job.
posted by octothorpe at 7:59 AM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why anyone would willingly run 26.2 miles is beyond me

At least Phidippides was getting paid...
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:13 AM on November 3, 2012


It's a natural human activity.

So is shitting but people get mad when I do it in the middle of the street.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:40 AM on November 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


You can measure out 26 miles anywhere. You can't, however, whore yourself out to the media somewhere you don't have under a complete PR lockdown. That, and only that, presents a real barrier to moving the whole thing 50 miles inland along a random untouched stretch of, say, rt22 or 28. Anyone telling you otherwise has something to sell you - Literally.

Wasn't one of the major obstacles to doing it in New York the price of moving everyone to the start line in Staten Island? That cost isn't going to go away because you're going in the opposite direction.
posted by kagredon at 9:49 AM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a natural human activity.

So is shitting but people get mad when I do it in the middle of the street.


According to a previous thread, you should do it on the beach.
posted by TedW at 9:55 AM on November 3, 2012


FWIW, marathon courses are certified by USAT long in advance of the actual date. Certification means that a finisher's time is eligible for restricted-entry races like the Boston Marathon that require proof that the runner has completed a certified course under a certain cut-off time in the previous year. A lot of folks use NY as a Boston qualifier.

Also, only times recorded on certified courses are eligible for national rankings and national or world records. In a race like NY, which invites most of the top marathoners in the world to compete, prize and appearance money is a huge part of the decision to compete.
posted by catlet at 10:44 AM on November 3, 2012


Marathons are just some of the weirdest things in the world to me. I just don't get them. Even on the best of days, shutting down the major streets of large cities so some people can run is really incomprehensible to me. I'm not being snarky or anything. I just don't have the part of the brain needed to understand why they happen.

Money. It really comes down to money.

My husband just ran the Detroit Marathon, and a bunch of friends did the half. Now, we didn't have hotel costs to deal with, we stayed with friends who live there. But each runner paid an entry fee, and in the two days before and the day of the marathon, we each spent about $500 on food and booze and souvenirs. 18,000 runners + families/friends x $500 = a fuckton of money for Detroit and Windsor, and that's not even including what the hotels made.

That's not counting what people gave to charities in support of runners, either. The Detroit Marathon supports a ton of charities, and so does the New York Marathon. So, you know, if motorists are mildly inconvenienced for a couple hours on one day out of the year? I'm OK with that. It's not like it's suddenly "Surprise! There's a marathon today!"

As for the compulsion to run? I dunno, I think they're nuts, but I ride 50 miles on my bike at a pop, so I probably don't have room to talk.
posted by MissySedai at 10:57 AM on November 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty confident that there will be runners who say, "Screw it, we're running anyway." Civil disobedience, human spirit...solidarity...most of the people who run the marathon don't do it for the corporate sponsors on the t-shirt they get at the end of the race, they do it because they are runners. Sunday might be interesting.

Well, won't that be lovely. I can imagine nothing finer than a bunch of runners deciding that they'll all clump together and run along the ordained route as a sign of the human spirit. It will be extra human spirity if they inconvenience lots of people and emergency personnel along the way - because if there's a number of them thinking that they should just do this route as they planned to, it will. And while I don't mind that inconvenience during regular times, if it requires police/officials/vehicles being pulled from places they're needed at this particular moment in time to deal with them then it will be an act of supreme selfishness. Run if you must - but run around parks or somewhere where you're not adding to the burdens on a city trying to sort itself out.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:22 AM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Its a shame they cancelled. Move the finish line to staten island, give the SI residents cleavers, and you solve the marathon and food problem at the same time.
posted by dr_dank at 1:10 PM on November 3, 2012


Wow, so MetaFilter hates marathons. The question is, is it because they cost money or because it involves more exercise than clicking a mouse...
posted by KokuRyu at 1:27 PM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm a bit surprised by the general disparagement in this thread. I suppose the runners could be commenting on a website or watching MILF Island or something instead.
posted by OmieWise at 2:00 PM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's part of the overall anti sports thing that crops up on Metafilter... "paying a guy millions to throw a ball around" dismissive, reductive mentality.
posted by sweetkid at 2:06 PM on November 3, 2012


sweetkid : It's part of the overall anti sports thing that crops up on Metafilter... "paying a guy millions to throw a ball around" dismissive, reductive mentality.

If it makes you feel better, I'd say the same thing about CEOs. Paying a stuffed suit millions to fantasize about market penetration, shake hands, and put in the occasional appearance at a press conference? Sheer folly.

Mostly, I'd say that no one "should" make hundreds of times the average wage in a given economy. Not athletes, not businessmen, not anyone.
posted by pla at 2:23 PM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]



Mostly, I'd say that no one "should" make hundreds of times the average wage in a given economy. Not athletes, not businessmen, not anyone.


I don't want to derail completely, but the owners of major sports teams make much, much more off their teams than the highest paid athletes. The highly performing athletes are the ones making all that money so that's why they're getting such a high share. Also, in the case of the most famous athletes, they support network ratings, ad campaigns, products, training programs, on and on. There's definitely a case for how much is too much, especially given the chaos that we saw when the NFL refs went on strike and all they were asking for were relatively minor gains like pensions.

My comment wasn't really about the money though, it was about the derailly "is this something I would need to care about sports to understand" attitude that comes through in Metafilter threads on sports.
posted by sweetkid at 2:38 PM on November 3, 2012


The letter from the NYRR is another own goal.
posted by JPD at 2:44 PM on November 3, 2012


Yes, it was clear during the press conference that NYRR blamed the media/public response for why the marathon had to be cancelled.
posted by sweetkid at 3:34 PM on November 3, 2012


"Disenfranchised" Marathon Runners Vow To Run On Sunday Anyway
posted by homunculus at 3:48 PM on November 3, 2012


That headline is far douchier than what they plan to do, even if they don't understand the definition of "disenfranchised"

far worse were the pics from Central Park of marathoners who were pissed off about the marathon being cancelled.

Honestly I don't see how the current NYRR management survives this, and if they do it says some pretty shitty things about their membership.
posted by JPD at 4:04 PM on November 3, 2012


Go ahead, running fans, try to justify the New York Road Runners letter that blames "extensive and growing media coverage antagonistic to the marathon" for the cancellation.

Is there any sport left that is not dominated by assholes? Oh, wait, I was a Band Geek in a high school dominated by the Jock Clique in the 1970s. It was ever thus. (I just held out a foolish hope that marathon running and cycling could be somewhat different)
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:22 PM on November 3, 2012


that's the link we've already been talking about.

Oh hey its possible to be a runner/jock sort and think the NYRR are totally out of line.
posted by JPD at 4:26 PM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm a bit surprised by the general disparagement in this thread

Allow me to counter and say I love the marathon. I'm not a runner, I just love to go and watch/cheer. My Mom ran some races when we were younger (not the NYC marathon, but she did the Marine Corp Marathon the year she turned 40) and it was so much fun when Dad took us all to look out and cheer for her. I've been looking forward to going to the race tomorrow for weeks; mapping out where I would watch and figuring out how to get there. I even bought one of those fold-up chairs so I'd be ready. Seeing it sitting in the corner tonight made me a little sad. I had so much fun last year- I was about a mile from the finish line, standing between a couple looking out for their son and a group of folks from Sweden who waved their flags and did some special Swedish cheer any time one of their countrymen ran by. I cheered for folks from all over the world, and was delighted when I got home and found the bride & groom I saw weren't playing dress-up. I completely agree that not having the race this year was the right decision, but I'll still miss it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:59 PM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, it was clear during the press conference that NYRR blamed the media/public response for why the marathon had to be cancelled.

I think there might be some legitimacy to that; I'm not sure any of us here really has a good idea of the full capabilities of NYC's police and sanitation forces and how they can be deployed. It does seem intuitively, of course, that cops not working on disaster-related stuff maybe ought to be at home getting some sleep after a horribly strenuous week--not blocking off streets for the marathon.

But--maybe I'm naive, but I really doubt the mayor cynically waited for athletes to get to town (as suggested a couple times above) to cancel. I don't believe that pissing off thousands of people--while pocketing their cash!--was his aim. Even with the hotel bookings and so on, the city will lose many millions in revenue because of the cancellation at a time that money is desperately needed. ...As things happened, though, if the marathon had gone on the city would have pocketed (much more) cash while pissing off most of its population, and that obviously is a PR nightmare.

I guess I'm saying that, although calling off the race was the right thing to do, it's not right to vilify those who had pushed to go ahead with it as merely selfish and insensitive. It may very well be true that it could have been pulled off logistically without jeopardizing relief efforts; I doubt many of the people making scathing comments here have personal experience with marshaling resources in a huge city. (Another thing is that the scale of the disaster has becoming increasingly apparent through the week, and some of these decisions may been made and then reconsidered in light of new information.)

There's an interesting counterpoint to the anti-marathon arguments here, made by one of Andrew Sullivan's readers. Personally I see both sides of the controversy--and I do agree that Bloomberg ended up with the worst of both possibilities, the way things played out. I doubt that's the outcome he was aiming for.
posted by torticat at 5:00 PM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there any sport left that is not dominated by assholes?
Running, for one. I don't think anyone 'dominates' this sport.

Big races are run by big companies, and I don't think most of us prefer it that way, but in any case I don't feel we're dominated by assholes.
posted by ftm at 5:03 PM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Big runs are run by big companies

New York Road Runners (a nonprofit) manages the New York City Marathon. ING is a big sponsor. It is not their run.

I have mixed feelings about the cancellation, but can definitely see it as a net positive. It's ridiculous to handwave what's happened here though as "big corporate event, who cares" or "running is dumb anyway" or "why couldn't they run in circles for 26 miles." It's a huge, complicated, national event and they needed time to figure out what to do, and everyone had much bigger priorities right after the storm. On Tuesday, Marathon day might as well have been years away . Cancelling the Halloween parade was an easier call, since it was such a small scale event.

Basically, this storm happened at a terrible time from a logistics perspective with Halloween, election and the marathon. I can't imagine what it's like for city workers right now.
posted by sweetkid at 5:08 PM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Allow me to counter and say I love the marathon. I'm not a runner, I just love to go and watch/cheer.

Yup. I attend 2 marathons every year - The Glass City Marathon here in Toledo, which kicks off at my alma mater, and the Detroit Marathon. My husband and friends run because they're crazy, I watch because I love them.

The disabled racers are really amazing to me, with their space-aged wheel chairs and biceps as big as my head. And the teams of friends who run together in costume are hilarious - in Detroit this year, there were two teams of Avengers, a team of Disney Princesses (with a dude rocking Ariel pretty hard-core), about a dozen Wonder Women, tons of people in tutus. They're out having a ball, and in spite of the dog-early hour of the start, they make me feel awake.

My friend's house is located at the 12 mile mark of the Detroit route. He throws a huge party, with music for the runners. We all stand in front of his house to holler and cheer, and hand random runners mimosas. Marathons are a hoot!
posted by MissySedai at 5:26 PM on November 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's an interesting counterpoint to the anti-marathon arguments here, made by one of Andrew Sullivan's readers.

That's definitely worth a read.
posted by OmieWise at 5:37 PM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's an interesting counterpoint to the anti-marathon arguments here, made by one of Andrew Sullivan's readers.


From that link:
Some people say it's "too soon". When is it not too soon? There [was a Knicks game last night] at Madison Square Garden. How is that not inappropriate at this time? It's also drawing away resources (police, food, etc). Why are we allowing this to go on? Staten Island was hard hit but the Staten Island Mall is open. How is waiting in line at the Apple store for an iPad Mini not more "disrespectful" than running a marathon?
posted by sweetkid at 5:43 PM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just to add one more thought: if you think of relief efforts as money+manpower, and you think of the marathon as temporarily diverting some of the manpower in order to hugely increase the money available going forward, then it's easy to see why the mayor would have made this pragmatic decision. Critics see the marathon as hampering the relief effort, when in fact it may have enhanced it in the longer term.

That is maybe a cold-blooded kind of analysis if you are someone who has lost your home in Staten Island or Breezy Point. But it does lend credibility to Wittenburg's argument that the marathon was called off for media/PR reasons not for practical ones.
posted by torticat at 5:48 PM on November 3, 2012


Well, NYRR and Bloomberg gave the media/PR/public outcry as the only reason. They definitely didn't say, "whoops, we didn't realize that all those cops/food/water/generators would be better used for hurricane management."
posted by sweetkid at 5:53 PM on November 3, 2012


I am a proud marathoner. There is a lot of good in our sport. My parents were told when I was very little that I would never walk with a regular gait, because of a birth injury. I've now been running for close to 3 years (I'm 32), about to run my 6th half marathon next weekend and my second full marathon on January 13. I've busted my butt training for the past year to get ready, and have learned a lot about myself every mile that I'm on the damn road, or in Central Park.

Don't dismiss all marathoners because some of their organizations do crappy things.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:06 PM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not totally sure what you're replying to, sweetkid? I think they may STILL believe the cops/food/water/generators could have been used for the marathon and the net result would have been MORE resources for disaster victims. So yes, their argument is that the public outcry is the only reason it was called off. They aren't backing down from their earlier argument that the city could have handled the marathon in terms of logistics and would have been better for it.

And they might be right, though it's probably not the most politic way to frame things right now.
posted by torticat at 6:08 PM on November 3, 2012


You know why it's too soon?
It's too soon because I spent the day delivering supplies and sorting relief items at a local mutual aid table in Staten Island and the people there are having to rely mostly on their neighbors and volunteers in order to meet basic needs for survival. The police and EMTs are stretched too thin and many of them are stuck in the middle of powerless, traffic-signal-free intersections trying to direct traffic through so that there isn't a mounting total of car-related deaths attributable to Sandy.

A red cross truck came by ONCE blaring a loudspeaker saying "we have hot coffee". That's it. Hot Coffee. The locals at the aid station, many who were standing in front of their destroyed homes hissed "Big Deal" at the truck. I was cold though so I went over to the truck, where the pleasant red cross volunteer poured some hot water in a nicely branded red cross paper cup, added a spoonful of instant coffee and a spoonful of dry creamer and then continued on their merry way.

This is across from the aid table. A man died in this house. You can make out the shrine. Here are some more photos. It is too soon to be using city resources like the police and EMTs for anything other than making sure these people get help.
posted by stagewhisper at 6:21 PM on November 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Critics see the marathon as hampering the relief effort, when in fact it may have enhanced it in the longer term."

Not to put too fine a point on it, but people are fucking starving and freezing here *right now*. Okay, maybe, they might make more money in the long run, and that'll sure help the people who are privileged enough to, you know, not be without food/water/heat/medicine/personal safety *again* today and tomorrow. Oh well.
posted by stagewhisper at 6:27 PM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


race volunteers would be just as prepared as any of the scores of my friends and other New Yorkers who have been volunteering with clean up efforts and making donations/deliveries. i was out of town all last week and it made me sick to see this all evolve. everyone who claims to love this city should make even the most token effort at help. every time i thought about the Marathon before it was cancelled i couldn't help but picture all the women in Staten Island i saw on the news fighting back tears and rage and pleading for help. to run a race where the starting line is based in a community that is absolutely decimated is beyond ghoulish and disrespectful. if i had lost my house or my children had been washed away by a storm i wouldn't take too kindly to folks out for a jog.

i'm heading out tomorrow to do what i can. from what i hear from people who've been out there, just showing up and helping is help enough. bringing along some batteries and flashlights and hot food and trashbags and water and work gloves also doesn't hurt.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 6:29 PM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


One final thing.
I know *very well* what kind of logistics and resources are required for a marathon of this size and stature. I ran competitively for the B.A.A. and gained a lot of up close and personal insight into behind the scenes planning for the Boston Marathon. This race would have taken incredible amounts of city support away from rescue efforts. For a number of years all that mattered to me was the next marathon I was training for. I don't need to be convinced that marathons are worthwhile and I've always considered long distance running one of the most honorable of sports, and hate that the NYRR continues to act dishonorably.
posted by stagewhisper at 6:38 PM on November 3, 2012


I know that most people here aren't doing this, but we should be careful not to conflate the actions of *runners* or even *NYC-area runners* with NYRR/Mary Wittenberg and the mayor. I am part of a running club in Brooklyn and our FB wall is about 5% people asking 'so what's a good plan-B marathon in the area' and about 95% split between people asking where they can help and people making plans to go help.

It is difficult in an area where transportation is still so iffy and so many people don't have cars (and so many of those who do aren't able to get gas) but everyone is trying to help out in any way they can.
posted by matcha action at 6:54 PM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]



You know why it's too soon?
It's too soon because I spent the day delivering supplies and sorting relief items at a local mutual aid table in Staten Island and the people there are having to rely mostly on their neighbors and volunteers in order to meet basic needs for survival. The police and EMTs are stretched too thin and many of them are stuck in the middle of powerless, traffic-signal-free intersections trying to direct traffic through so that there isn't a mounting total of car-related deaths attributable to Sandy.


Again, though, a lot of these resources were diverted to the Knicks game, football, shopping malls reopened, etc.
posted by sweetkid at 12:08 AM on November 4, 2012


Sure but where that point falls down is that we are resourced as a city to handle all of those events on an ongoing basis. Even Football at the Meadowlands is something set up to be done 20x a year. The marathon is a special event that adds marginal strain on resources.
posted by JPD at 4:47 AM on November 4, 2012


What NYC Marathon Runners Are Doing Today: From Helping Staten Island To Running 26 Miles In Central Park
posted by homunculus at 11:40 AM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


stagewhisper writes "Not to put too fine a point on it, but people are fucking starving and freezing here *right now*."

I mentioned it in the Sandy thread but there have been people starving and freezing in the city every single time the marathon has run. There always are.
posted by Mitheral at 6:36 PM on November 4, 2012


Right, but did the marathon all of those years siphon off this sheer amount of labor that's required for direct critical, time-sensitive care to stem the thousands of extra people now starving and suffering those years? No. I wish you were out there in Far Rockaway with me today because I'd hope you'd actually see the HUGE EXTANT and desperation of the situation right now. Today. It feels limitless.
posted by stagewhisper at 6:44 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The NYC Marathon Cancellation Email I wish NYRR had Sent, from Idiot Runner.
posted by katinka-katinka at 3:12 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


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