Damned if you do, Damned if you don't, by Toni Reavis, note by Larry Eder

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The ING NYC Marathon will be run on Sunday under some extreme circumstances. While, above 34th street in Manhattan, there are few reminders of the Hurricane that has killed over 65, and put several million in unheated, unpowered homes. "When one is worried about keeping the milk cold, and where to find gas for the car, the marathon is not really on the landscape," is how one East Coast resident explained the conundrum to me.

 

George Hirsch, Chairman of the Board of the New York Runners, put it this way, " We hope that this race will be part of our road to recovery." Kenny Moore, the writer honored today with the George Hirsch Journalism award, compared the outpouring of grief and a need for a positive outlet for that grief with Hurricane Sandy, to what Moore, Frank Shorter and Jack Bacheler faced with the massacre of the Isreali athletes in Munich in 1972. Shorter told Moore and Bacheler to go run, and with that, they put their grief on display as they ran the 26.2 miles along the blue line through Munich. 

Kenny Moore put it this way, " My certian knowledge is that to run the New York City Marathon this year is to challenge the grief 40,000 times, and we will be the better for it. 

DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON'T

by Toni Reavis

 

DEVASTATION

There was no right answer, a classic damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't proposition.  That was the conundrum faced by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYRR president Mary Wittenberg when Superstorm Sandy whipsawed into the eastern seaboard this past Monday just six days before the 42nd ING New York City Marathon was scheduled to run through New York's five boroughs.

After short, but (what I assume to be) careful consideration, the mayor decided on Thursday that the marathon should go forward.  His rationale centered on both the economic power of the event (last year it generated $340 million in economic impact), and the metaphoric resilience it would represent to his stricken city.  He bolstered his decision by explaining how electrical power should be returned to most of the city by this weekend, and, given that the race is held on Sunday, a light traffic day, there would be less call for city police on the streets to monitor the marathon's safety.

For her part Wittenberg explained how the marathon course, itself, had been spared by the savage storm, how NYRR would use private security and transportation to release the strain on city services which would be needed for storm relief, and announced the institution of a marathon Race to Recovery Fund with an initial contribution by the NYRR, the Rudin Family, and sponsor ING to the tune of $2.6 million.

Nevertheless, the backlash has been severe, coming not just from affected citizens of the five boroughs - especially from hard-hit Staten Island, staging ground for the marathon start - but from runners alike. A typical response went like this:  "now is not the time to divert resources away from critical recovery efforts, close more roads just so some people can run a race, and invite thousands of people into a city that is only partially functioning with electricity, mass transit, and other basic utilities impaired."

This is the fine line that Bloomberg and Wittenberg had to tread. Read more of this post

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