This morning as I sorted through my inbox and made plans for the day, the gchats that kept popping up on my screen were nearly all about the same thing. “Is the city serious with this marathon?” my friends and colleagues are asking.
Turns out, there are a number of marathoners who feel the same way. Gothamist has this post up about Penny Krakoff, a social worker who lives in Crown Heights, who is entered in Sunday’s race and plans to take marathon transportation to Staten Island and then spend the day volunteering.
There are several Facebook groups, Boycott the 2012 NYC Marathon, NYC Marathon of Relief advocating that runners and fans skip the event and volunteer somewhere instead. If you look at the pages for NYC Marathon 2012–Let’s Do This (a runners’ support page) and the ING New York City Marathon’s official Facebook page there are thousands of comments calling for the cancellation of the marathon in favor of redirecting resources elsewhere.
On the ING page, some social media whiz posted this message late last night: We dedicate this race to helping the communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy. There are nearly 1300 furious comments telling ING all the ways in which this is a tone deaf, meaningless and insulting sentiment. One gentleman suggests that the runners should forgo water during the race, since there’s no safe supply still for so many people around the city.
The truth is, around 45,000 people run in the marathon each year. They punish their bodies for three, four, five, even six hours on a Sunday. What if instead, they all volunteered? Clearly that would be a logistical problem, but really, think about all those work hours, squandered on a race when people in Sheepshead Bay, the Rockaways, Gerristsen Beach, Red Hook, Lower Manhattan and New Jersey need help.
And what about our emergency support systems? All those cops who have been working 12-hour tours for a week now? Do they really need to work crowd control on Sunday so we can watch people run? You can’t get gas for cars or generators in Brooklyn without waiting in line for an hour or more. Say what you will about biking and fossil fuels, but it’s a lot more efficient to drive clothing, food, water and supplies to Red Hook and South Brooklyn than it is to walk or bike. The marathon shuts the city down for nearly an entire day–people need to refuel, and fuel trucks need to be able to get around, to prepare for the commute on Monday, to deliver supplies, to transport volunteers.
A friend pointed out too, that the end of the marathon is like a triage center because it is, at the end of the day, a very hard thing to make your body do. I just don’t think we should be directing our medical services to the guy who forgot his nipple band-aids right now. With several hospitals out of commission and the blood supply running low, is it really smart to allow, even encourage, thousands of runners to overtax their bodies?
So not to be a curmudgeon, but can we please postpone the marathon?