The New York Marathon website has been flooded with outrage and criticism from NYC residents. This coming on the day after Bloomberg gave his endorsement to Barack Obama in the presidential race. Now and in the near future Obama may have to down play the endorsement to shield himself from the fallout over these events.
Earlier in the week I was wondering how it might be to have put up the entry fee, plane ticket money, hotel reservations etc. and done 1000 or more miles of training to be ready for this weekend. Then think what it would be like to go through the gauntlet of the airports, baggage claims, immigration if coming from overseas, seeking delayed transport to a flooded hotel, and on race day scrambling to be at the starting line. Remember the movie "The Out of Towners" with Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis from the 60"s? The stress would more than likely negate a good performance. For this reason alone I suggest that smaller marathons are the best places to perform well. Then what would be the moral justification of a good performance at New York this year? Not very high on the charts in my book. But as a good friend many years ago once said, "I'd push my mother aside to finish one place higher in a race." You may choose to disagree. There is lots of space on the internet and in this blog to do so. . However I would find it hard to run past people without homes or waiting in line for food and fuel or people in high rises too sick or weak to walk down or climb back up the steps with a few water bottles in their hands. Maybe all those leftover marathoners can volunteer to carry water up to those apartment dwellers who are stranded.
Overall , the NYC situation demonstrates the fragility of our infrastructure and the interdependence of so many systems that enable a large community to function efficiently. The key seems to be the need for electricity and a means to deliver it. Distance running is supposedly a step back in time to a day when people travelled more on foot, human muscle brought food out of the fields and delivered it to our tables and men and women sold their labor to push iron and coke into a blast furnace to make steel , and teachers taught from a blackboard and a few readers. Running today has to a great extent become candy coated with high tech apparel, personal trainers, sophisticated chronometers and GPS systems, timing chips and high energy drinks and nutrient bars, and let's not forget, minimalist shoes and synthetic running surfaces.
Sometime think about the civility of a marathon with only 50-100 runners who just show up on race day and run through country roads and have a beer and go less than a hundred miles home after the race.