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Cancellation of NYC Marathon brings mixed reactions

In case you’ve been under a rock over the past week, a lot has happened in New York City and along the East Coast. This not so little weather system called Hurricane Sandy (yes, my sarcasm is coming back, a little), hit the area and left widespread devastation.

Most of Lower Manhattan was flooded. Power was out everywhere. And the surrounding boroughs were just as bad. That was just that area too. In the running community the big news every early November is the New York City Marathon. It was scheduled to be run on Sunday, Nov. 4.

Today, it was canceled for 2012.

An official announcement was posted to the marathon’s Facebook page only a couple hours ago:

The City of New York and New York Road Runners announce that the 2012 ING NYC Marathon has been canceled. While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of disagreement and division. We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event — even one as meaningful as this — to distract attention from all the critically important work that is being done to help New York City recover from the storm. New York Road Runners will have additional information in the days ahead and we thank you for your dedication to the spirit of this race. We encourage runners who have already arrived in New York City to help with volunteer relief efforts.

To say there are a lot of bummed runners would be an understatement. But there are also a lot of pissed off (for lack of a better term) people who thought the marathon should have been canceled days ago, when the storm first hit, when Manhattan was flooded, when Staten Island (where the race starts on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge) was asking, but not getting help and when people were still surveying the damage.

Let’s get this out of the way: I agree with the decision.

But, I also didn’t make the lottery this year. With what’s happened to me recently, I doubt I would have made the trek this week anyway. Still, as someone who has trained for a marathon and lined up knowing the nerves that come at the start, I can’t help but be a little disappointed for the runners who will not be making the 26.2-mile journey through the city’s five boroughs.

The reactions online, in countless articles and Facebook specifically, are very mixed.

Some are glad the run was cancelled.

Some are upset they won’t be running.

Others are urging people who are already in town to volunteer to help victims of Sandy.

In any case, people aren’t being quiet when it comes to how they feel.

The question is: How should people feel?

To train for something that long and not be able to run? To have spent a lot of money on a hotel room and flight and not be able to participate?

I’m tempted to say get over it.

But I also understand how sad it is to not be able to take on a goal.

I think, though, that race is about showcasing the beauty of New York City. In recent days, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and race officials said, instead, it would showcase New York’s resilience. I didn’t buy that.

And yesterday, when Katie at Runs for Cookies wrote about the cancellation of the Saturday 5K event. I figured the marathon would be next. I didn’t think it would take this long, though. I figured it would have been before people started getting into town.

How can you showcase the city when people are without power? Or water? How can you showcase a city when so many need help?

Yes, I’m glad the race was cancelled.

Not because I didn’t get in. But because I think the natural thing to do was cancel it. But for all those who were scheduled to run, letting go of that dream, I’m sure, isn’t easy.

I’ve DNSed several races, specifically when my body was too tired to do anything except sleep, but the races were small. I didn’t have a lot invested into them outside of fees (which for both was in the $40 range).

I feel for race organizers, who can’t please everyone with a decision like this. At the same time, I think the best thing for everyone would be to move on, find a new race if possible, and just be thankful. After all, some people on the East Coast no longer have anything.


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