Runners run because of so many different reasons: weight loss, stress management, joy, sadness, charity....the list is long. For many runners it is sometimes the only thing they know to do in a time of chaos - which is what has enveloped NY and it's surrounding burrows.
For many runners, the NYCM is a once in a lifetime run and they have spent several hundred dollars preparing for the event, and the event itself. The NYCM charges an entry fee (up to $347), then a runner pays for new shoes (usually spending between $80 to $150 and breaking them in 3 months leading up to the event), airline tickets, hotel room and food. I'm sure there are more expenses involved but these are just the ones I can think of. Many runners pinch and save for the event because of the expenses involved. The NYCM brings in a lot of tourist dollars to the local economy because of all the runners (an estimated 60,000) and many of them from far away (think international - Chili, for example).
Just getting into the NYCM is a feat within itself. You can get in by qualifying with a particular run time in other approved marathons or you can get in by raising a certain amount for an approved charity that NYCM supports, or you can apply for the remaining spots. This year, approximately 140,000 runners applied this year for roughly 60,000 spots in the race.
The typical runner has spent months training, focusing on nutrition, speed & hill drills, protecting oneself from injury, sacrificing weekends for long runs, etc. One does not simply get up and run the Half or the Full - it is a determination and physical challenge that not just anyone can endure. It is 90% mental and they have trained their minds to ignore pain, to overcome obstacles and to focus on the end goal.
According to the New York Times, on average, each participant spends $1,778 on hotels, transportation, food and beverage, entertainment and shopping, according to an independent survey, produced by Aecom last year.
I recently read that The marathon generates an estimated $340 million in spending, thanks in part to more than 20,000 runners from overseas who spend money at hotels, restaurants, theaters and shops.
3. The locals (as well as non-runners throughout our country) began to throw disparaging words and evil glances at the runners, as if the runners were the evil villains in this controversy. Had the locals forgotten that it wasn't the runners that brought on Superstorm Sandy? Had the locals thought that runners were so heartless that running through the damaged burrows not impact them ? Why was everyone made at the runners - after all, runners were doing only what they were told. To come run and that it would be the best recovery effort for the city.
4. When the mayor and officials decided to finally cancel the event, there were runners already in the city and some were displaced because they had made a hotel reservation a year in advance but because of Superstorm Sandy, lost their room to displaced residences. Most runners that I've read about, have gladly relinquished their rooms for the displaced residents and opted to sleep on cots and floors in ballrooms of the hotels. That's runner spirit - that's human nature in the pure form it should be.
As I put text to paper this morning, a morning in which I had planned to be glued to the TV with my coffee, jealousy watching the NYCM runners on the boob tube or live internet feed, I instead read stories of how the runners, still decked out in the orange tech shirts they received at packet pickup, now running through the burroughs, handing out backpacks full of extra clothing (runners always have "throw downs" during such a race), water, simple medical supplies (bandaids, etc), wet wipes, and more to the residents living in the aftermath of Sandy. Again, the runner spirit and human desire to help others shines through the ugliness of late, bad decision making.
|Runners prepare to run into Staten Island with their giveaways - picture taken off NYCM FB page.|
The question remains, what will the directors of NYCM do for their runners? They are out of hundreds of dollars for entry fee, hotels, travel and to have it completely cancelled after arrival deserves some sort of compensation. A compromise may be to reschedule the event for Spring - but then of course, there are a few dozen calendars that have to line up with it - the city calendar for one! Or should they just simply refund a percentage of the entry fee? What about comping the fee into another marathon?
There are still a lot of questions that NYCM needs to address and fix but in the end, with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy,but for the residents, the politicians, the race officials and the runners, there are no winners.
As for me, the NYCM will remain on my bucket list.