Like many people this week, I’ve been glued to news sources and many of my thoughts have been on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. From the pictures and news briefs I’ve watched, it’s clear there is much devastation and ruin. I wondered earlier last week, why the NYC Marathon wasn’t cancelled and/or postponed, but trusted those in the position to do so, would make the call to cancel. I say this, because I am not physically in the city, so I do not have an in-person account of truly what is occurring within the city. As of last Wednesday, when the race officials and NYC announced the race would proceed, I was a little dumbfounded by the call, but again, I trusted those in the position to make this call, were weighing the safety of the runners, the city’s dwellers and overall impact of Sandy were making the correct one and in the interest of everyone involved.
I struggled with this decision later in the week, as more news came out on the harder hit areas in Staten Island, New Jersey, and surrounding areas. Although extended family of ours in Brooklyn went unscathed by the wrath of Sandy, other family in Long Island was dealing with power outages and downed trees. Minor offences made by Sandy, in comparison to news stories of lost loved ones, and lost homes in surrounding areas that were being profiled. I was deeply saddened by the losses and even enraged by the thought of corporate profiteering at a time when many are in need. As of late Thursday, I continued to wonder why the NYC Marathon was still on but also recognized at this late in the week, to cancel was most likely not an option. As well, I continued to put my faith and trusted that those who were in authority were making the correct decision. Runners were already starting to filter into the city. It was too late to defer and/or cancel one’s registration or trip plans; salvaging any monies they could recoup from airlines, hotels, and other events. Race officials and the city of New York pounded their resilience, and said, “The show must go on”. Runners listened.
But here is where the officials were wrong….The ING NYC Marathon is NOT a show. It’s a marathon. It’s a celebration for those who have trained throughout the months to participate in an event that is internationally recognized and for some, the apex of their running journey. The coveted ‘ring’ as it were. However, sometimes, that ‘ring’ has too much power, and perhaps for many sponsors, participants and officials of the race weekend, the greed of the ‘ring’ was bigger and stronger in their mind, than to recognize the loss of lives and ruin. The ‘ring’ can make a man only see what they want to see; and at times put blinders on one’s eyes even when physically standing in dire situations. It is so much easier to blind oneself from the truth, when the truth is difficult to swallow. Perhaps the thought was, that the ‘ring’ would bring celebration to the city and unite people? A marathon of course, shows resilience and commitment to one’s journey to finish; but how can one who stands in an area where once their house sat on a foundation, now destroyed by Sandy, focus on any one’s personal journey to run 26.2 miles? For anyone who believed this, they truly had to be drawn to the ‘ring’. This ‘ring’ of course, is the marathon.
By the time the ‘ring’ was taken off the finger of someone with authority, it was a little too late. Late Friday afternoon, when the cancellation was finally announced, runners had already arrived in the city, or many were en route to their destination. I will not fault any runner who decided to make the journey to NYC. For most, I think it was a difficult decision that pulled on their heartstrings. A decision where they listened intently to the race organizers and city officials throughout the week, and most likely took their lead from these officials who said, “Yes, Please come to NYC. The marathon is a go.” After all, these are the trusted people you listen to, when in doubt.
As of today, Saturday November 3rd, and most likely throughout next week, we will continue to read more stories regarding the marathon cancellation and how NYRR will handle registration for 2013. I can only hope the NYRR is fair to all registrants/runners, and the race itself is not tainted by further uncompromising announcements towards its runners. Yes, it is an important event for many runners, but it’s the runners with who make up this event. I hope the NYRR keeps that in mind.
Runners are a resilient bunch. They have to be. And although many are upset as to how the race announcements were handled throughout the week, a whopping 83% are reported to have said, they agree with the decision to cancel the marathon. For this, I am proud. I don’t know if you’ve read any news stories of runners being “selfish”, “self-serving”, and “only running a marathon to serve one’s ego”…I have and I’ve been a little offended about these statements as they erode the true meaning of finishing a marathon. Sure, we run for ourselves first, but that is not to say, as a runner, we don’t care about others and wouldn’t put our own personal agendas aside for the good of a city, its dwellers, and their personal survival. Many runners in fact, were said to have wanted to donate their registration fees & hotel rooms to the victims of the storm. I applaud you.
Moving forward, it’s safe to say us runners will have our focus on the tragedies, the losses, and the future to rebuild. Let us recognize the PR mistakes made during this past week and hope that those who have the authority to move faster with their decisions in any future event of this magnitude do so, with diligence. Even now, I wonder why it took so long for the NYRR to update their website(s), announcing the cancellation when several major news sources already confirmed the cancellation at least one hour earlier.
For us? We can only move forward and ask ourselves, how can we help? From afar, consider donating to the Red Cross. If you live close by, please volunteer to help cleanup and rebuild the several communities that were destroyed by Sandy. If you are a corporate sponsor of the NYC Marathon or similar, consider donating and/or help organize a cleanup team in a particular community.
From a business point of view, many may ask me why I don’t donate a portion of my sales to the Red Cross in aid of the tragedy. I asked myself this very question and decided to donate out of my own bank account to the Canadian Red Cross. I can give more, from myself, than a few dollars from my sales.
Thank you for reading my blog.
Urban Running Girl