So it looks like the New York Marathon is on. I am of two minds about this. I love the New York Marathon, more than a race it is a celebration of New York with tens of thousands of runners and hundreds of thousands of spectators. If I’m not running it, I always go out and watch. This year, the debate about whether or not the race should go on is vigorous, its on the front page of the New York Times and its clogging up my running clubs listserv. For what its worth (which is nothing) I think the race should go on, but I can understand why others feel differently.
In times of trouble, as in the months after September 11th, the New York City Marathon has been a statement that New York is unstoppable, that life goes on no matter what. But in 2001, the race was almost a full two months after 9/11. This year, the race will be happening less than a week after the most destructive natural disaster in New York history. Thousands of New Yorkers will surely be without power, thousands more will be struggling to get to work. If I was them, I imagine I’d be pretty pissed to see resources going to a footrace when they could be going to getting the lights turned back on.
Still Con Ed doesn’t marshal marathons, and the New York Road Runners Club can’t drain the water from the subway stations.* The race is a testament to perseverance, both for those who run it and for New York as whole. Holding the race shows that life is moving on, that we are rebuilding, that nothing stops New York. That is why, though I understand the anger many are feeling about the decision to go forward, I’m glad the race is happening. I hope Meb wins, and that he raises a FDNY flag at the finish.
On Sunday I’ll be thinking of the communities struggling to rebuild after the storm, but I’ll also be on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn like I am every year, cheering on the runners. Hope to see you there.
* The NYPD generally plays a huge roll at the marathon, but this year they’re a little busy. My understanding is their role will be slightly less than in previous years. We’ll see.