Should the New York City Marathon be held in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane?
Running blogs and Facebook feeds have filled with responses to this question since Sandy touched down on Monday. My colleague at Competitor Magazine weighed in with an excellent article on why the marathon must be canceled, while others shouted back that the show should go on.
Normally, I have a strong sense of what I believe is right or wrong. But as a lifelong runner and former New Yorker, I find myself unable to answer this question. Unlike any city I’ve ever lived in, New York has the ability to fill your heart—and I can feel mine hurt looking at images of the destruction this storm has wrought. (A tragedy can be difficult to swallow from afar, so if you haven’t already, I suggest looking at post-storm images). I can see the obvious reasons to cancel the marathon. On the other hand, I would hate to take away a dream from deserving runners—and the much-needed revenue the race would bring in the city’s time of need. What’s the right answer? I don’t know.
To help shed some light, I asked the people closest to the judgment call. Here’s what runners living in New York City (some running the marathon, some not) had to say:
“I read an article about forming a ‘new normal’ after tragedies, and it’s true. We just have to find new ways of going through our old routines (or form new routines) and move forward. I think this is a fantastic opportunity to continue with our old routine or inspire others to start a new one with running. The New York City Marathon is a big event, and I would hate to see a devastating storm tamper with something that generally represents how awesome and strong the human body can be and the camaraderie that comes with athleticism.” – Lidia Kim
“I’m excited it’s still happening because we’ve trained really hard and I think it can excite and motivate the city but they should reevaluate the course and take Staten Island out of the course since it was hit so hard. They should continue to encourage volunteers and not use as many police officers.” – Alysia Dusseau
“Luckily I do have power right now, but my mom, sister and dad haven’t had power since Tuesday and I’m living through their experience in some ways. I’m torn. Obviously I trained really hard for months and months for this race, but a part of me feels guilty. At the same time, I’m not the one that made the decision [to hold the race]—and there’s a part of me that still doesn’t believe it’s going to happen. I think that if they’re going to have the race and we’re in New York, we might as well try to rally. I’m going to run in support of New York City and to try to find some good in something so negative.” – Dani Stutrz
“I feel so badly for the people who were affected. One of my friends lost their home in Breezy Point. I’ve been to it many times and now it’s gone. The amount of devastation loss and lives in ruin is unimaginable. I think the marathon could be a good thing, a way to show that this city will survive anything and keep on thriving. But I also don’t want time, energy and resources to be taken away from the people who need it most. If NYC can pull off the marathon, I will be out there running. And I will dedicate it to all those effected by Sandy. But if they cancel the marathon, I will know it is for the right reasons and I will accept their decision. It is a tough decision. But I feel either decision is in the best interest of our amazing city.” – Grace White
“The marathon is symbolic for New Yorkers and proves we are a city who works together to move forward, no matter what happens. However, I am concerned that some out of town runners are not seeing it that way and are annoyed that their flights have been changed or their hotels don’t have power. To me, that frustration is displaced—New York residents [without homes] are staying in those hotels! But overall, I’m glad it’s happening.” – Leah Grammar
What do you think? Let me know here or tweet me @JessieSebor.