Friday, November 02, 2012

NYC Marathon Cancelled in Wake of Hurricane Sandy

Mayor Bloomberg let everyone know today that the NYC Marathon planned for this Sunday, 11/4, has been cancelled. A bit late notice, if you ask me, but the right choice nonetheless. Bottom line for those who were planning to race - (1) guaranteed entry for next year, (2) your $200 entry fee is basically a donation to Hurricane Sandy victims now so try and feel good about that, and (3) you can donate your unused hotel rooms to hurricane victims if interested.

A press release issued this afternoon by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Road Runners CEO Mary Wittenberg cited the divisive situation (and reported very well at, from where I am quoting much of the below).

“We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants,” it read in part. “And so we have decided to cancel it.”

Wittenberg and Howard Wolfson, Deputy Mayor for Government Affairs and Communications, explained the rationale for the decision at a press conference:

“Obviously this has been a very difficult week for the city of New York,” said Wolfson. “Over course of week the marathon, which is one of th best days in the life of the city, a celebration of life, had become divisive and controversial, a feeling that grew over the course of the week.

“Those of us who love this city and love this race realized this wasn’t the marathon if there were people who were hurt by the running of it. This is obviously difficult news for people trained for it, who came from around the world to run it, but it was obviously the right decision.

“The marathon is the only event that has no dissenters, it’s a unifying event. If all of New York is not behind the race as it is every year, it is not the marathon we know. We will have a fabulous marathon next year, we will rebuild our city better than ever as fast as we can. The race had become a distraction, in an unfortunate way. This was a difficult, painful decision, but the right decision.”

One could speculate that opposition from local press contributed to the decision. Many newspapers ran stories and editorials against holding the race so soon after the race when large parts of the city were still without basic services like electricity and water, and social media sites, including the NYRR Facebook page, were filled with comments echoing those sentiments.

All of the 40,000-plus runners will be offered guaranteed entry into the 2013 edition of the race or next year’s NYC Half Marathon, typically held in the spring. “Obviously next year’s race will be extremely difficult to get into,” she acknowledged.
She and Wolfson said proposals for a smaller, alternate event were discussed but ultimately discarded for the same reason the 26-mile race was called off. She said the large field of elite athletes will be “treated fairly,” while acknowledging they were foregoing substantial potential prize winnings and time bonuses.

In keeping with the goal of helping the hurricane victims, she said many of the marathon supplies, such as portajohns, water and space blankets would be donated. “We’re working with City Hall to find out what can best be used where,” she said. “We’re taking some of our event guys and putting them to work on the relief effort. We have a lot of infrastructure, especially at Ft. Wadsworth [where the runners are staged before the start] and hopefully that can be used.”

As for the thousands of runners who had paid more than $200 apiece in entry fees, in addition to travel and lodging expenses, she offered a sincere apology, noting that the extent of the storm damage was more than they had anticipated. “Earlier in the week I said time was on our side,” she said. “But now I say we ran out of time.”


  1. A good call, however a bit earlier would have been better.

  2. This was always going to happen, why wasn't the decision made much earlier?

  3. I agree that it was a good decision to cancel the race. I get that organizers were trying to use the NYC Marathon as a sign of solidarity and resilience, resulting in the late cancellation, but I can't imagine running a marathon surrounded by destruction and "supported" by people, some of whom, have lost everything they own. Hopefully the marathon staff and resources will be of some help to the citizens of New York.

  4. Yet the New York Knicks and New York Giants games over the last few days were still on. Both of those events entail tens and tens of thousands of people travelling to the arenas/stadiums and also divert tons of resources to make them happen.

    Its pretty transparent to me what happened.


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