Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thoughts on the NYC Marathon cancellation. Get over it!

The brouhaha over the non-cancellation earlier in the week then last moment cancellation of the ING NYC Marathon has been loud and long.  In my opinion, the wailing and gnashing of teeth has been too loud and gone on too long.

I have no dog in the hunt so it gives me a clinical vantage point from which to have an opinion.  I was not running the race, nor do I have loved ones in the bulls-eye zone of Hurricane Sandy.  So, I have no emotional connection. 

The cancellation was smart.  The timing was stupid.  The outcry even more stupid.

The city was/is without power and there were dozens of deaths.  The storm’s destruction will take weeks maybe months to clean up.   Safety crews and medical workers are running all out.  Law enforcement is taxed to the max protecting citizens from looters and each other as tempers flare over the lack of power and gasoline.   

These same public service people would have had to stop the hard work of cleanup and rescue to provide support for the race.  Tough spot.

The race should have been cancelled early in the week.

The rationale the NYC RoadRunners Club used about revenue for the city, vendors and sponsors wore/still wears thin.  It would have been interesting to listen to the dialogue between the sanctioning organization, corporate sponsors, the city and others to understand the line of thinking earlier in the week.   Maybe the “show must go on” decision felt noble.  It may have even been right financially on a spreadsheet, but it made little common sense in light of the situation.

Then to compound the already bad decision, the NYCRR waited until some portion of the runner’s were in transit or already there in the city to cancel the race.  Apparently many showed up to find hotel rooms unavailable as they were being used to house displaced people.  Didn’t these runners watch the news or call ahead? 

The reaction has been an interesting human study.  

Monitoring Twitter and Facebook feeds reveals that most/many seem to be modestly annoyed but understanding.  Some though are shrill in their critique of the NYCRR.  Some are pissed because of the no refund policy.    (Easy solution, some bright marketing person at a big budget company like Nike with a $2.4 Billion marketing budget in 2012 should spend $8-10 million and sponsor 2012 runners entry fees for 2013.)  It clearly says on every race entry that the fees are non-refundable. You get injured, you pull out.  You miss a flight, you pull out.  In this case Mother Nature was the cause, the race pulled out. 

Get over it. 

This drama is all that is wrong in today’s corporate sponsored mass marathons.  The money being spent behind these races has turned the sport into a bit of a circus.  When smart calls on races are being held hostage to money, it is a slippery slope.   What’s next?

To the runners bitching about the cancellation- please shut up.   Yes, it is a minor inconvenience.  It is microscopic when compared to having a relative killed or seeing a family’s house taken away in the floodwaters.   You sound like a self obsessed clod complaining about missing a race when the devestation looks as bad as it does. 

To the people at the sponsors and NYCRR who made decisions based on the money factor in the face of a serious disaster.  Shame on you.  

To the people displaced or had relatives killed in the storm?  Sorry for your situation, my thoughts are with you and I am sorry you have had to listen to this kind of garbage as you try to put your lives back together.


I am not going to sign up for a mass corporate sponsored 26.2 ever again.  Instead I will look for the small regional races where money is not the purpose of the race.  I doubt it matters in the scheme of things, but I want my race fees to go to a charity or a small race director who is doing because they love the sport…not the money that goes with it.


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