What I wish NYRR would say about the NY Marathon

This is my opinion. Mine only. I have no stake in this decision whether they hold the race or not. But we are faced with an ethical and moral dilemma. Does the race go on and show, as Mary Wittenberg has tweeted, “the vitality & spirit of NYC”?  Or does the NYRR focus on assisting recovery by helping with recovery and not holding the race, which will require public safety personnel and strain an already decimated transportation infrastructure? Will the thousands of volunteers be able to get to their posts?  Will runners be able to get to the start line, much less get flights into the city? Will thousands of runners running through the city hamper with recovery? Or will this be, as Wittenberg asserts, and I am sure hopes, a glorious moment that will show New York resilient and strong?

What is the right decision? No one will know until it takes place. But we all have opinions and we all will second guess whether it is run or not.

I have friends running this race and I suspect my position is not one they will agree with.  I hope they do have a good time.  I want to run this marathon one day. I think it would be an absolute blast. But I disagree with the decision to hold this race. And I hope they will not begrudge me for saying so.

This is what I wish the NYRR would have done instead of trying to have the race in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.


Dear Runners:

The NY marathon IS New York. It celebrates the diverse nature of our city and it brings thousands upon thousands of runners from all over the world to our streets for 26.2 of the most glorious and festive and interesting miles you could imagine.  The race is among the most notable and celebrated in the world. Magic happens in our race every year and will continue to give us memories that we could never forget even if we tried.

But we will not run this year.  Hurricane Sandy has wrought upon our city destruction and disconnection on a level that we could not have imagined.  Hundreds of thousands are without power.   Many lack food and basic life necessities.  Still others are blocked from leaving their homes by flooding and dangerous conditions.

Instead of holding our wonderful marathon we will serve our city.  We ask the following of our runners and our volunteers, and ourselves:

Volunteers please instead of serving our race, serve your neighborhoods.  Find someone in need and assist them. Find food and water if needed.  Serve your fellow New Yorkers.

Runners donate to Red Cross.  Instead of spending money on race swag at the expo or eating in some of the greatest restaurants in the world, send a donation to Red Cross for relief.

NYRR will distribute the hydration and nutrition we would have given runners during and after the race to those in our city who are hungry.  We will use our generators to provide power to areas in need of charging phones or computers in order to stay connected to news from the Mayor’s office about recovery and transit schedules.  We will give race clothing–sweatshirts, t-shirts, track pants, caps-to those who need a fresh pair of clothes.  And as the year goes by those folks will be reminded of what we did to help them.  And maybe they will take up running and run with use in years to come.  We will use our resources to help those who have always supported the marathon from its earliest days.

There is no greater thing than to sacrifice in order to serve your fellow human, your fellow citizen. We are sacrificing our marathon for the greater good of our city.  We are New York.  We will be back next year.  But our priority now is to repair and renew the greatest city on Earth.  Please do all you can to help. We promise that we will do the same.

Thank you.


  1. Well said, I could not have agreed more. That would have been an amazing act of kindness and well though out. I hope the marathon still goes off without an issue and everyone enjoys themselves. Maybe they should toss in some volunteerism to their New York Running trip? An inspiring idea..

  2. Agree completely. I am not going to run it as planned and wish they would cancel it. This is disrespectful of the people who live there and are suffering through this. The city needs recovery first, then a party.

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