Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Should the ING NYC marathon be cancelled because of Sandy?

I wanted to get in soooo bad. no dice

It's Tuesday October 30th and I am posting from a hotel room in Orlando, Fl. 

I got an invitation of a lifetime to go on a Disney Cruise, my whole family, paid for -- I do some health blogs for a company and they generously included me on their company trip. Of course I was thrilled. My family could never afford such a trip. 

The ship: The Disney Dream.

The dream quickly turned into a nightmare as we went to sea when Hurricane Sandy was tearing up the Caribbean and we headed into it anyway. All of our ports were cancelled and the boat faced 25 ft. swells and two solid days at sea. The pools were closed as was most of the outdoor stuff. It was cold, it was windy. But we made the best of it. And we were glad to return to port and head home. We were weary. The last night on board was as if you were sleeping on a ride that just propelled you high up into the sky and dropped you. All night long.  The trip was to last from Thursday - Sunday. We were expecting to be home in Jersey by this past Sunday night.

We soon learned that all flights home were cancelled. We were rescheduled until Wednesday (tomorrow)...  So we booked ourselves at the All-Star resort at Disney. 

Now, with the airport still closed, we were rescheduled once again for a Saturday flight. Our three night cruise has turned into a 9 day affair. And it hasn't been easy. Our five year old, who has autism is having a very tough time and is out of sorts -- we are all feeling a little frazzled and this "free" trip has become quite costly of funds we don't really have. 

Still, with all of this, I am extremely lucky and very grateful.

I have power (in this very expensive side-trip/stranded situation) I have my health, my family and safety. I have no idea what I'm going home to but I'm hoping for the best. A neighbor says that all looks Ok from their vantage point.

Other friends and family back in NJ and NYC are not so lucky. Over 100 houses in Queens burned to the ground, friends all over NJ lost their homes to devastating floods - no one I know has power and the subway system is in dissaray. All over NYC people are displaced and powerless.

QUEENS after the fire photo credit

So should the NYC marathon carry on? Sorry. But in my opinion, HELL NO.  

As a runner, I can empathize and sympathize with people's sense of loss with the event being cancelled.  I can appreciate those who say, "we're not going to let Sandy stop us!" Or "Americans are strong! We can face any adversity!" But we are still dealing with a city that is still in the dark, it's central infrastructure of the subway system disabled. It's total devastation. 

Yes, if I was lucky enough to get into this highly competitive race and train for months and months only to have it be cancelled I would be devastated, pissed and aggravated by the loss - this is my DREAM RACE - I would bemoan my "bad luck" and be as disappointed as they come - but would understand, ultimately people need to come first.

The city has an obligation to put its people in top priority, help those in need and get its city back on  their feet. With so many suffering loss right now and homeless, it just doesn't seem right to me. And PS I don't see how they can logistically pull this off. I mean with no trains or subways, and with every borough hit like it was - how people will get around and all is beyond me.  

NYC subway platform
Maybe I feel this strongly because it literally hits so close to home for me.

What do you think? 

On a way smaller level, I am disappointed that I won't be able to run the Central Park 5K dash (its finish line is the same as the marathon's) that I registered for on Saturday and I was planning to spectate the race this year.


PS: The Simple Hydration giveaway is now closed -- I will pick a winner and announce within the next few days.


BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

Sigh. I've debated saying the same thing. NY is so much different than Chicago just from the way you qualify for it esp if you do it the NYRR race way and volunteer. You basically spend 1 year to qualify, then 6 months to train for it specifically and it's a huge investment. So I feel for all of them....but....damn it's a natural disaster that adding the marathon in to it will put a horrible, unnecessary strain on resources from police, medics, public transportation. I just think while people will give NY kudos for doing a lot with so little it will just be a miserable experience.
Lot's of prayers for NY and NJ and esp with all things related to the race.

Gillen Family Blog said...

I think it should be cancelled as well. The chaos of trying to get the event rolling with the subways down and the destruction Hurricane Sandy has caused would just be crazy. Some people haven't even been back to their homes yet. It's so very sad.
I completely feel you on the cruise ship too - I was in the Navy and those big ships can really get to rocking. Glad everyone made it safely, and I'm sorry it's costing more then originally planned.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comments. I know a lot of people will disagree with me for some of the reasons that you stated Michele and I can understand that. As i said, this is MY DREAM RACE probably the only race I would ever train to do 26.2 again for. I LIVE for this race. I was excited to spectate this race, I went in for the opening day ceremonies, I don't come to this opinion easily or flippantly. It took me months of training and agonizing in my first marathon - this is a huge blow for people and I'm sooooo sad for them... but it's just too much. It's overwhelming.

Mark Matthews said...

I agree. It feels a bit selfish to run, and that with the marathon resources will be taken away that can be used elsewhere. Can you imagine having your life ripped up and a ton of runners taking over the town for fun?

I may have a biased opinion since I am set to run the event but am pretty injured, but there is logistics nightmares for me too. Not sure what I will do. thinking of canceling and trying next year but I'm so close, am running for a charity, and it's all a mess.

By the way, the cruise you were going to go on is incredible. Great service, great shows, great Castaway Key (with a 5k) nice running track around the boat. Sorry about your time. Man, I was a tried and cranky parent just reading it for the few minutes I was.

The Boring Runner said...

Hmm, I'll be the dissenting opinion here (and will be blogging on the same)....

I do think that it is the right thing to do. Two main schools of thought: economic benefit and resource availability.

First, economic benefit. I just saw an article that initially there was to be a $340 million impact as part of the marathon. A large percentage of that will go to put people who had their lives disrupted back to work. Service industry people. These are the people who can't take off a few days because their hotel is 50% empty now and they're not needed. So, clean up, yes. But all of that takes massive resources for which additional dollars into the local economy would be good. The reality is that for those who don't have the means to support themselves in these hard times are the ones who rely on tourists the most.

On resource availability, when I think to the people who assist with the marathon, there are few people that would actually intersect with the people who would be helping to clean up. The unfortunate reality is that a lot of people don't want to help clean mud off of the Staten island ferry but are more than happy to hand out water cups. Also, the PD / FD can only do so much cleaning and I would expect by this weekend (provided the water receds like it should) would be back to the normal level of support giving the PD/FD who help out w/ the race not only a break, but also some much needed OT pay.

But, those are my thoughts. I don't live there - and I'm trusting new coverage that is biased at best.

The Boring Runner said...

Oh, for what it is worth, I purposely didn't use the individual runner's reasons for which there are many. Being in AZ, saving up for months (years) at $300/night hotel, $500 flight, $250 race only to have the race canceled? That'd peeve me off for sure.

misszippy said...

One other way to look at it: Without the 40,000 people and their families coming to town, NY stands to lose lots of tourist money. Money that could maybe help the city get things turned around after Sandy? So maybe that's a good reason for it to go forward.

Sorry you had such a nightmare of a trip!

Unknown said...

Both very good points Adam and Amanda -- being homeless and thousands miles of way and out of my own element has me reacting purely on emotion. But if it can continue safely and generate profit towards help - cool. It's an iconic part of the city and practically a holiday for me.

I would personally lose my mind if I was in an out of towner's shoes. (or even if I was to run!)

RunToTheFinish said...

I have to say as someone running NYC...I can't imagine how this is going to happen and I understand the whole we are NYC we rise up and this will show everyone we can go on, but I feel like with police being needed elsewhere and travel disrupted it's going to be a sober affair

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

I am SO fortunate living on the south shore of Long Island to have only lost my cable, phone and internet service. Towns right next to mine will be w/o power for days, if not a week or more. LIRR is shut down. Subways are shut down. Many highways on LI are closed. I was scheduled to run the 5k with Jen and there's just no way I can get there for the actual race, let alone TWICE to pick up my race packet. The marathon would bring in a lot of revenue IF people could GET THERE! Laguardia is under water. JFK and Newark are barely running. I know if I were Jen, stuck in FL, spending money I didn't have, I'd be pissed hearing that they're trying to get the elite athletes into the city for the marathon. This seems extremely insensitive to me. I just don't see how it can happen as planned on Sunday.

Karen said...

It is heartbreaking to see all the devastation, I can't imagine going through that kind of loss or clean up. So very sad.

As for the marathon, I kind of think no from both sides. How can they logistically be ready to support all the runners coming in today/tomorrow/Friday? Yes it is revenue but what about taxis, subway, etc. as a runner, although I would be sad not to run, I think part if me might be relieved they cancelled because it would be hard just getting around the city.

Chris said...

I'm with you Jen. I think with all the issues the city is facing, to take resources away from that is a slap in the face of those who are suffering. I get the whole "economic" aspect of it, but how many of those people who would boost tourism are really going to make it in? Without the 50,000ish people they would normally expect, is it worth the time away from where help is vitally needed? I don't think so.

I ran AC a couple weeks ago - a week before Sandy. If the race were this weekend would I expect the race to go on? NO! Have you SEEN the devastation to the city? I'm a Jersey girl who grew up 45 minutes north of AC. I would be perfectly fine with the race being canceled so clean-up could be happening without taking resources away. Because at AC almost every single cross street you came to had 1-2 cops making sure people didn't get run over. I would anticipate while the police aren't sweeping streets in NYC, they are making sure looting isn't happening and are assisting people who are homeless.

Sorry. Not to be on a soap box, but it's a RACE. Sandy killed. As much as runner's train and invest in these events, our hearts should go out to the people who's LIVES are effected.

Unknown said...

I agree that it should be cancelled, or at very least postponed (not sure if that's feasible). I think it's very selfish of NYRR to expect the city to be prepared to help put on this race while so many are going without, and in some case have lost everything.
I saw a post on Twitter in which the recommendation was to offer any runners willing to give their time to volunteer cleaning up the city, the option to defer their entry until next year. Best suggestion ever.
Not only would those people not be "wasting" their planned trips to NYC, it would still bring in some tourist revenue and give the city much needed extra hands.
I do empathize with those that have been training for the marathon, but this is bigger than any one runner. This is a natural disaster and people need to look beyond the selfish "but I worked so hard to be ready" aspect and put themselves in the shoes of those that just want to get their lives back in order. Because when those runners leave and go home, these people are still trying to get going.

Unknown said...

Thank you friends! I appreciate all of what you said. :)

Erica Gorman said...

I say if they feel they can get it up and running and may help get the economy bumped up there and bring some smiles to people's faces who are saddened. But perhaps I just try to see the good in a very ugly situation....see runners helping through ways we can't even imagine. Although if the run goes off and no good will goes on to the residents who have suffered so much...I may get a bit gloomy or grouchy...

TheMomOfTwins (Zainab) said...

I read in Katies blog, that it did get cancelled.(Good it did!)
I hope you are well Jen. Are you home yet?

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