What had always been a unifying force in America's melting pot city, the one thing that drew every New Yorker and visitor together, has now been blown apart by Hurricane Sandy. So count the ING New York City Marathon as another victim of last Monday's vicious storm, except this is a constituent that even FEMA can't help put back together again.
Last night's decision to cancel the 42nd NYC Marathon by city officials and race organizers has left behind a nasty split. A city already in tatters and tears is that much more divided than the day before. Opposing sides in the marathon cancellation debate are in shocked disbelief at the insensitivity of the other side, leading to arguments and recriminations posted on chat rooms, e-mails and text boxes world-wide.
From "it was the only thing to do", to "what a wasted opportunity to rally the city", the reaction has come as swiftly as the miles up First Avenue on race day, but as opposite as one curbside to the other. Needless to say, the overwhelming, though not 100%, view from the marathoner's side is that the decision to call off the race was wrong-headed.
"I met a girl who flew 20 hours from Australia," texted my friend Rich Jayne from the Haile Gebrselassie Marathon expo booth at Javitz Center which continued unabated today till 5 p.m. "There was another guy with only a year to live and this was to be his last marathon. When the announcement was made we had three foreign runners in our booth. NYC is not making friends."
While runners from the top professionals to the 40,000th placer are disappointed and upset for time and money spent and paydays lost, NYRR President and CEO Mary Wittenberg hinted at a graver concern at last night's press conference in Central Park.
"We became concerned that runners would not receive the welcome they were used to," she said, adding, "it's been tough on the volunteers and staff, too, anyone associated with the marathon."
The vitriol flooding out against the marathon had become a torrent.
"I heard organized violence was being planned," wrote a friend in the city, "and runner's safety was the main concern." Read more of this post
Bio: Larry Eder has had a 44 year involvement in the sport of athletics. Larry has experienced the sport as an athlete, coach, magazine publisher and now, journalist and blogger. His first article, on Don Bowden, America's first sub 4 minute miler, was published in RW in 1983. Larry has published several magazines on athletics, from American Track & Field to the U.S. version of Spikes magazine. He currently manages the content and marketing development of the RunningNetwork, The Shoe Addicts and RunBlogRun.
Of RunBlogRun, his daily pilgrimage with the sport, Larry says:
"I have to admit, I love traveling to far away meets, writing about the sport I love, and the athletes I respect, for my readers at runblogrun.com, the most of anything I have ever done, except, maybe running itself."