Why I Decided Not To Run The 2012 NYC Marathon
UPDATE (17:20. Fri, Nov 2, 2012): New York Marathon has been cancelled, 7 hrs after I made my decision not to run.
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I didn’t anticipate being drawn into an ethics debate when I decided to run the New York City Marathon earlier this year. I imagined it to be quite straight-forward, particular given the fact I was under no obligation to fundraise for this one (unlike the charity place I secured for London a couple of years ago). I wrote about my journey to the New York Marathon just last week. Over the past few days, since hurricane Sandy hit the Mid-Atlantic coast on Monday, the race has come under harsh criticism for going ahead despite the recovery effort. Most of the main news outlets have published a piece on Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial decision not to cancel or postpone it.
I’ve spent the last couple of days watching news reports, reading comments on Twitter, talking with friends, and friends of friends in Queens, Jersey City and Hoboken. It’s been exhausting trying to decide how I feel about running and whether or not to cancel. In the end I made my decision not to participate based on transport issues; not only for myself, and getting to the start line, but for my family who were coming along to support.
Lower Manhattan is still without power and most of its subway stations are still underwater. The Staten Island ferries that were supposed to carry runners to the start are unable to operate. On Thursday I was informed that my 7:15am ferry will be replaced by a 5:30am bus from the New York Public Library. My race start time is 10:15am.
I’m not concerning myself too much with the debate on whether or not the race should go ahead, other people are in charge of that decision. Whether I agree or not it will still happen. It’s up to me to look at the logistics now and figure out whether or not I want to break the plans I’ve made for myself to get to New York and run, and for those coming along to support me.
Booking a hotel anywhere is always a well thought out decision based on price, location, parking and all sorts of other factors. I chose the Courtyard Marriott in Jersey City for a number of reasons, my in-laws ended up in another Courtyard Marriott in Brooklyn–a block from the marathon route and close to the subway. From what I’ve seen, it would be a nightmare for spectators to move around and get from Brooklyn into mid-town Manhattan for the end of the race, not to mention filling the car up with gas when it comes time to leave–people are reporting up to a 6-hour wait for gas around New York due to reduced supply.
I do not anticipate that a trip to New York at this time will be the experience I want it to be, or one which my family will enjoy. This is why at 10:20am on Friday I deferred my entry for another year (forfeiting the $260 entry fee which New York Road Runners will not refund). I had planned to leave for New York at 4:30pm this afternoon.
I hope the recovery effort continues quickly for all those affected and that my hotel room will be used by someone who needs it.
UPDATE (Sat, Nov 3, 2012): New York Road Runners (NYRR) sent out an email this morning asking runners to donate $26.20 to their Race to Recover Fund. There has been no word on refunding race entry fees ($260 is a lot of money for me), or on whether a percentage of these will be allocated to the relief effort. It would be good to know where these race entry funds are being allocated now that the event is cancelled. I could not find any information on the ING New York Marathon website in regard to an event cancellation policy.