Should the New York Marathon Go On?


Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to hold the Marathon on Sunday as planned has provoked significant backlash from the public and politicians alike.

Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Councilman Dominic Recchia are among the many opposed to the race, reports Crains. Both say the city’s priorities are backwards, that the focus should be on New Yorkers still in need of aid to recover from disaster.

John Liu, the comptroller and Bill de Blasio, public advocate, are among those who support the race, reports the Times, citing the large economic stimulus the race provides at a time when just such a boost is needed. Over 47,000 runners — about 20,000 of them international — are expected for the race. The race generates hundreds of millions of dollars for the city.

The Mayor says that the race will not take emergency resources away from rescue operations. The Times reports that the Police Department has reached out to department retirees to help with storm work and the marathon.

In an interview with the Times, Mary Wittenberg, chief executive of New York Road Runners, plans to donate $1 million, or $26.20 for every runner who starts the race, to relief efforts in the city. The Rudin Family and ING, two sponsors of the race, will donate a combined $1.6 million to storm relief.

The issue has inspired a powerful response throughout the city and beyond. Should the New York City Marathon go on?

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  1. It should not go on. It is a slap in the face. It feels completely disrespectful. We need HELP right now, like food and fresh water, not tourists running through the rubble.

  2. We should postpone it for AT LEAST another week. It’s disrespectful. Bloomberg compared it to 2001 when we still held it after 9/11 – but at least it wasn’t a mere number of days after the event. How about we put those runners to work running up all of those high rises stairs with seniors and disabled people on high floors to bring them food, water and supplies…

  3. While my heart goes out to the thousands who have trained and raised money for charity, this is the exact misuse of resources (police etc) that will get the ire of the people most affected by this storm. People are hungry and cold and haven’t showered in days, but we’re going to host the marathon? Not cool. How about all those runners come into town and lend a hand at shelters?

  4. It should definitely be postponed. The mayor seems to think it is lifting the spirits of the city to hold it. Is he truly that out of touch with what’s going on? All the decision to hold the marathon seems to be generating is a lot of anger and head scratching. It just feels wrong. The city needs help now, not tourists running through the ruined streets and taking hotel rooms from those who have no where else to go.

  5. ok, here’s my idea for sunday…

    stand along the marathon route wearing homemade t-shirts.

    on the front, write:

    ING! ING! ING!

    (Perhaps on the back, a crudely-drawn polo pony)

    let’s show america what ny is really made of!

  6. Canceling would cost the city a fortune. (The refunds would be staggering). We need the marathon and its $$$ more than many realize.
    Besides resources dedicated to the marathon can’t magically be turned into heat or electricity for those without. More money on the other hand would go a long way to help out those in need.
    Bloomberg should lean hard on the corporate sponsors to do the right thing. They should step up and help out each boro financially that the marathoners run through (meaning all five).
    Let’s have our cake (have the marathon) and eat it too (get funding to help those still without the basics).

    Canceling will achieve neither…

  7. It’s a tricky question. A lot of New yorker I know from my running club are running it and have put 7+ months of hard/ devoted training into it.

    A lot of them are struggling with the same question but in no means are they disrespecting anybody, they just want to complete their jorney/ dream. A huge bunch of them are also fund raising for charity and would have to pay their commitment by themselves if it was cancelled (YUK!)
    At the end of the day the decision is Bloomberg’s and NYRR’s. They are supposed to have all the information to make that call, not me, not you and not the runners. I want to trust their judgment when they say it won’t divert the rescue effort. I agree that I would have expected them to push it back a week or two, but that’s not what happened. After all Broadway shows are open.

  8. The very idea of having the marathon now is disgraceful. They don’t have to cancel it, but to have it now is outrageous. I read earlier today that the two massive generators they have providing power to the marathon “press tent” in Central Park could provide power for 400 homes. What more needs to be said?

  9. Running the Marathon is a terrible idea. The traffic situation at the moment is manic and it would only add to it. People will have either just received power or have none and will be looking to clean up and restore their homes and will find the city even more impassable. Canceling will cost the city no money as the event is insured.

    If NYRR and the mayor had put any thought, they would cancel the costs and allow the runners to donate the funds to charity. If the runners want to come to New York to volunteer, they are more then welcome. Its selfish of them as the death toll still rises today and others are still at risk. I would even consider the runners who want to participate inhuman.

  10. I totally agree. Our spirits don’t need lifting at this point; we need help! There’s NOTHING to celebrate or cheer about
    right now; it DOES feel wrong.

  11. “Besides resources dedicated to the marathon can’t magically be turned into heat or electricity for those without. ”

    You mean like those generators they’ve put up in Central Park to fuel the marathon’s nerve center in Central Park can’t be moved to Staten Island, the Rockaways, or Coney Island? Ok.

  12. Adding to the week’s events: The Flatbush Farmshare (last seasonal) distribution went on, demonstrating the notion of shared risk, one day late on Thursday at the Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church. And a huge collection for items for affected communities on Staten Island was undertaken Saturday — in large part thanks to the promotion of the DPC –. I have to wonder how these items would get to SI if the marathon had been on the bridge today.


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