Approximately 90 minutes after I wrote this blog, Mayor Bloomberg cancelled the New York City Marathon! While a difficult decision, I believe it to be for the greater good. And while I understand that thousands of New Yorkers were planning to run the race and are now disappointed, there are millions of New Yorkers who are grateful they are not.
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If you are a regular reader, you know that I am a runner. I am slow. Very slow. But I run. As often as this post-childbirth pain ridden body will let me. And up until I was pregnant, I ran daily including two (well, almost two) half marathons in the summer of 2011.
I have two friends living in New Jersey, one in Queens NY and family in New Hampshire. Thankfully all three of them escaped Sandy relatively unharmed. One lost their car, a few trees and many belongings. One lost their roof, two cars, and most of their house. The other two managed to avoid loss all together. I am not sure about the cousins in NH, but the friends in NY/NJ are still without power, no generator, and just enough gas to get them far enough away that they may be able to find some food and gas.
September 11, 2001 was the most devastating day in my 36 years of history. The shock, the tragedy, the loss, the aftermath, the cleanup, the surviving, the rebuilding. While the death toll from Hurricane Sandy is only a fraction of the 2011 tragedy, the loss is significantly greater.
This weekend marks the 42nd running of the New York City Marathon. Nearly 50,000 people, a third of whom come from other countries, will descend on the Big Apple to run 26.2 miles through each of the five NYC boroughs.
I am a firm believer in all the cliches: rising above, making lemonade, silver linings, pulling up by the bootstraps, and it takes a village. And I agree that the city stands significant financial gains for hosting the race. And that every racer with a heart will make a donation on top of their race fee to help the victims of the hurricane.
Here's the problem with all the logic:
There are hundreds of thousands without power through the tri-state area. NYC alone is still half-dark with power restoration estimation being about 10 days.
Headlines read: Man pull gun after cutting in line for gas and NYC taxis running out of gas as lines grow
Stores are out of food
People on Staten Island are devastated and the death toll is rising
If I were a hungry New Yorker who had lost my home in the storm, was out of gas and/or didn't have a generator, here would be my perception:
The generator they are using to power the media tent can provide electricity to 400 homes
These crazy people running 26.2 through our sand-covered streets are worried about carb-loading before the race...I am worried about finding food for tomorrow.
Because some of these runners will need assistance on the course, there will be fewer cops to stop the looting and fewer paramedics to help with search and rescue/recovery
There's a winter storm brewing in the Atlantic that's shaping up to be a Nor'easter. I am wondering where to go from here and now comes the snow. And you think I care if you finish your 26.2 to say that you did it?
If you are running the NYC marathon, it's not your first marathon. If you are not a contender for one of the spots that pays a prize, how about helping a neighbor instead of crossing an item off your bucket list?
Hey, NY Road Runner Assoc. Why don't you offer your shuttle service to the non-contenders so they can do something more fulfilling with significantly greater impact on society. Bus them to a Borough and let them lend a hand (and foot) and offer to give their race entry fee and the expense of the goodie bag to the American Red Cross. I know you are donating $26.20 for each runner, totally just about $1 million for relief efforts, but that won't rebuild the Jersey shore, Staten Island, or even fix the damage on Liberty Island for Pete's sake. Maybe you should postpone the marathon, or let racers defer their entry to next year.
Runners are a loyal lot of wonderful people. We are a family who looks out for each other. We run together in different places at different times, but we are all runners and share that eternal bond. I would like to think that those running NYC this weekend can find a creative way to use their endurance training in a way that will benefit those who have lost everything from this storm.
Just my thoughts.