Friday, November 02, 2012

No Way in Hell the NYC Marathon Should Go On. (Updated: It's not)

Updated: As I wrote this post, it was announced that the marathon was cancelled.  Clearly they knew that I was about to publish this post. Also, I changed the title of the post as it was unfair for the runners and the organizers should have borne the vitriol. 

Perhaps I'm cranky today.  Maybe it's Donald Trump being Donald Trump.  Or maybe its the fact that NYC got hit by a hurricane and everyone knew it was going to be serious and the news is filled with stories of horror that could have been avoided. Or maybe I just am tired of the election and the schizophrenic polling which is exhausting to follow.

However, the news that the NYC Marathon, one of the world's largest and preemient racing events, will be go on as scheduled really bothers me.

Mayor Bloomberg's Reasons For

He's quoted by Sports Illustrated as saying "has to show that we are here and we are going to recover'' and "give people something to cheer about in what's been a very dismal week for a lot of people.''

Let's talk about this for a second.  The Marathon is only exciting for one group of people, those running the marathon.  Very few New Yorkers look forward to a weekend day in November when driving and walking anywhere is impossible.  I remember sitting in traffic headed to work in 2000 for an hour and I moved a block.  A total nightmare.

Also, is there any doubt that NYC is going to recover?  New Yorkers have no doubt.  Sure there are some living near water that may relocate or move. But NYC is resilient, and you don't need to convince New Yorkers of that fact.  We went through 9/11.  We know what the city is made of.  So maybe you're trying to reassure tourists.  Well, two things on that.  First, a marathon isn't the event that's going to do it.  Second, tourists don't leave Manhattan below 59th St, and once the power comes back online, the city will be full of shoppers and morons staring at the big tree.  Don't worry about them.

Bloomberg also said, "You have to keep going and doing things,'' he said, "and you can grieve, you can cry and you can laugh all at the same time. That's what human beings are good at.''

Alright,we're not talking about cancelling the marathon because of the enormity and sadness of the storm.  We're talking about a simple logistical matter.  Rest assured that if 2 bombs went off at schools, killing over 40 children (approximate number of Sandy deaths in NYC so far), then the marathon would be cancelled in a national day of mourning.  But that's not what happened.  This is not about restoring New Yorkers faith in humanity or the city or America.  This storm should inspire a closer look at SLOSH maps by New Yorkers, but that's it.  We don't need time to grieve.  We need time to get to the Home Depot and buy some tarps and drywall, without miles of traffic caused by an unnecessary athletic event.

My Reasons Against
  • Staten Island: For those who don't know, Staten Island also known as Richmond County, is the oft forgotten borough.  Almost all residential, it is more conservative and whiter than any of the other boroughs.  Very popular for NYC employees who are from New Jersey but need to abide by the residency requirement.  They fit somewhat uncomfortably in the greater NYC.  Often talking of seceding.  Which if they ever did, would make them the second largest city in New York. The reason I bring up Staten Island is that it's the start of the marathon.  Right.  The place with the tanker on it, is where over 50,000 runners are arriving.  And taking over the only bridge to the rest of the city.  Right.  This makes sense. 
  • First Responders: So my many friends in the NYPD have been working 12-hour tours since the storm.  FDNY has done the same.  Walking up 25 flights of stairs to help those people who thought they were correctly safe from flooding, but sadly not the time it takes for medics to respond to your floor without an elevator.  The streets are usually watched by the National Guard and cops during the marathon.  Both groups are people that should either be working on the recovery or taking care of their lives.   Look, these cops live on Long Island and Queens and Staten Island too.  I know friends who have lost their childhood homes.  And these cops would work for days to help others.  But now you tell me that they have to work an optional sporting event, instead of taking care of their business or stocking their fridge?  Bullshit.  
Oh, and marathon runners, I'm not against you.  I've run 5Ks which I know is what you do in order to break a sweat.  I understand the mental importance of finishing NYC.  But do it another year.  New York asks you.  You love this marathon because you get to run through the greatest city in the world on a nationally televised race.  The people of that city are trying to put their lives back together and you're being here does not help.  Trust me.  

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