Having run over a dozen of races, one starts to develop opinions as to which races are his/her favorites and which are not. For example, I’d run Boston as long as I qualify. California International Marathon is also one of my favorites, too. On the other hand, I won’t run San Francisco Marathon or Disneyland Half again. There are various reasons for liking and not liking: Organizers, cost, timing, location, etc. After this weekend in New York City, NYC Marathon is on the verge of becoming one of my not-gonna-run marathons, even without running it.
Since I became a marathoner, I’ve always wanted to run New York City Marathon, because it is the largest marathon on earth. Because it is one of the Majors. Because it is in New York City! So, I got myself qualified earlier this year and registered to run. Last Friday, I traveled to NYC, across the country, amid controversies the marathon should not be run when so many storm victims were still trying to recover from the disaster, only to find out that the marathon was just canceled after minutes of my arrival at JFK. I had mixed feelings about the cancellation; thus, I did not react to the news emotionally.
The marathon Sunday’s come and gone. After the cancellation was announced, I’ve read a few articles about how runners reacted to the cancellation and what New York Road Runners (NYRR) was doing. I even sympathized with NYRR for having such a bad luck coinciding with Sandy and having so many people pointing fingers at it even though the decision was primarily made by the NYC Mayor. But such sympathy quickly disolved when I read a New York Times article this morning. According to the article, it is waiting to hear from its insurer before deciding to give entrants the refund, even though, I am understanding, its financial position would not be endangered if it refunded the entry fee to all entrants.
About a month ago, I had read another New York Times article that reported how big NYC Marathon became and how NYRR’s President and CEO, Mary Wittenberg, might have changed culture of the running club by bringing big corporate sponsors and expanding its programs beyond needs of local members. I don’t live in NYC or not a member of NYRR, so I did not come to any conclusions as to whether I believe the accusations made by some, then. Now? I am still not drawing any conclusions yet, but I am finding the criticism valid.
I understand there might have been a clause somewhere in the waiver/disclaimer we all signed that the entry fee is not refundable, whatsoever, period. But I’d like NYRR to give us the entry fee back and show NYRR is a decent organization and puts the runners first before its other agendas. According to its web site, NYRR strives “to give everyone on the planet both a reason to run and the means and opportunity to keep running and never stop.” It would make a good gesture and would make me want to run the marathon next year if it refunded. Sure, NYRR may say the demand for running NYC Marathon is so much stronger that it can get away with not refunding and lose my support. Sad if that is the case. But again, there are so many choices when it comes to running a marathon. It does not have to be a NYC Marathon if the organizer, a non-profit organization, does not listen to and is out of touch with its supporters and participants.
As I finish this post, I received an email from NYRR saying it is addressing our concerns and needs more time to answer our questions. NYRR, don’t disappoint me. Give me a reason to run NYC Marathon next year!