The New York City Marathon scheduled for Sunday November 4 was finally canceled on Friday night amidst enormous pressure from those who believed (and rightly so) that it was poor taste and rather classless of Mayor Michael Bloomberg to go forward with the event just one week after Superstorm Sandyravaged the city and plunged so many into darkness for days on end.
The power has been restored to many in Manhattan, but those in New Jersey and other parts of the area are STILL without electricity while the marathon had generators that could have powered for days. “Poor taste” does not even begin to cover it. The outcry was immediate and severe. Petitions gathered close to 30,000 signatures and many were going to refuse to run on principle.
As a runner myself, my initial knee-jerk response was that it was great the marathon was going to go on. I have run two full marathons and countless halves. Every one of them takes enormous training and dedication. To hang the date is no small thing for a runner.
On the other hand, the event is HUGE. Sure, it makes a lot of money for the city. But it also diverts resources, shuts down streets, takes over hotel rooms and generally wreaks some havoc on even the most prepared, least embattled city. Just try to drive into Boston on Boston Marathon day and you will know what I mean. It’s a mess. And a city that is already a mess does not need another one.
After giving it even two seconds of thought beyond my knee jerk “New Yorkers are so resilient” and “marathoners train forever for these races,” it seems obvious that the race had to be canceled. It’s impossible to hold a race when so many are living in hard conditions. The resources that help distressed runners should not be diverted from the people who need them to LIVE. It is almost insane that this did not happen days earlier. What were they thinking?
By waiting this long, they likely let a lot of runners fly into the city or take over hotel rooms and plan to run. Then they canceled. Now everyone is angry.
The way this was handled was insensitive at best. At worst it s clueless, tone-deaf and downright cruel. I feel for every marathoner who trained his or her heart out and has to postpone the big run. I know how that must feel and how disappointing that might be.
But I feel for New Yorkers more. The city needs something. But it’s not a million runners romping through the streets. It’s better late than never, but still too late to be considered sensitive.
Do you think the race was canceled too late?
Image via Creative809 (José Elias) 809′s photostream/Flickr