I may not have been born here, but I’m a New Yorker through and through. It’s in my soul, and I’m never leaving this glorious place because to me, it truly is the Greatest City In the World. And our Marathon, the New York Marathon, is more than just a race. It’s more than just 26.2 miles of running. It’s more than the millions of spectators, more than the thousands of volunteers, more than the block parties in Bay Ridge, Park Slope, Bed Stuy, Long Island City, the Upper East Side and the South Bronx…
It’s a symbol of solidarity for our city.
Don’t take that away from us.
There certainly was a threat that the Marathon would be canceled. Even as I write, 36 hours after the worst of the storm, most of Lower Manhattan, below 39th street, still has no power. Some of the auto traffic tunnels have been pumped, but we still have no Subway service. First responders and City employees are still working their asses off trying to make sure shelters are staffed and that people have what they need. Yes, it’s true, many of the residents of Manhattan are affluent and have financial resources to get what they need, but many of them are struggling too, and are relying on public resources right now. We may not have power back before next week, they’re saying.
Heh. I say we, but I’m landlocked at a high point in Brooklyn; since my neighborhood didn’t lose power my biggest worries over the last three days were making sure we had content on Salty Running and wondering whether or not Halloween was going to happen.
In my defense, I’ve been really working hard to keep my thoughts light, because I’ve been through it before and much, much worse. A few nights ago I let this hurricane stuff dredge up a lot of the pain I experienced before I was a New Yorker, when I was still a New Orleanian. I only moved here to NYC in 2007, after Katrina had kicked me out of my home, stolen my sanity, torn away mementos of a happier time, pushed me back into a bad relationship, made it worse by changing us both completely and totally distorted my entire world.
Having been there, in this situation where everything seems to be spiraling out of control around you, where your life becomes completely turned upside-down in a terribly short time, I can tell you how important it is for us to keep going.
Many runners in the NYC area are disenchanted with the New York Road Runners these days, claiming NYRR’s current leadership characteristically pays too much attention to its bottom line and not nearly enough to runners’ needs (case in point, the bag scare). I tend to agree, but right now I think they’re doing okay in the face of disaster, and I like the practical eye with which they and Mayor Bloomberg seem to be approaching the issue.
And hey look, I know there’s event insurance for the race that can help with the costs of rentals, equipment, trucks, volunteer ponchos, supplies, TV crew cancellations (yep) and everything else, but with an event on the scale of the New York City Marathon (47,000 registered participants), I can’t imagine insurance would be able to recoup the cost of cancellation for NYRR. Think of the money that the City would lose; that’s a lot of hotel rooms canceled, a lot of restaurants vacant and a lot of souvenirs unpurchased. And don’t forget the personal costs cancellation would mean for registered runners: the training, the travel costs…the crushed hopes.
And postponing? Not even on the table. The City has other events on deck, other permits in place, and once you push an event as huge as the Marathon it creates a domino effect for permits that will literally last all year. Not to mention, can you imagine if your race was postponed during the last week of your taper? Especially if you were traveling to it and had to change your flight, your hotel reservations…hell, in New York, even your pre-race pasta dinner reservations are hard to change! No way, Jose. It’s now or never.
And sure, Subways are limited right now, but they will be operational with limited service. And hey–the buses are free!
And now is a good time for us. Think of what block parties will mean to people after a week of dealing with all this? It’ll be a chance to kick back and celebrate what this City means to all of us. It’ll be a symbol of our vitality, our will to persevere, our indomitability.
We are the Greatest City in the World. And when we say we’re going to do a thing, we do it.
What do you think? Should the New York Marathon go on with the show?