Participating in the NYC Marathon Concerns Washington-Area Runners

The marathon plans to go on as scheduled, despite the current state of the city’s roads and transportation systems.

New York Road Runners has announced that it has a contingency plan if the government shutdown remains through the November 3 race. The marathon begins at Staten Island’s Fort Wadsworth Park, which is federally maintained land, and continues across the Verrazano-Marrows Bridge. Photograph via Wiki Commons.

Hurricane Sandy left her mark up and down the East Coast, from the snow-covered mountains of West Virginia to the submerged subway system of New York City—and just in time for the NYC Marathon on Sunday.

As of right now, the race is scheduled to go on, despite the current state of the city’s streets and public transportation. Said race director Mary Wittenerg in an announcement yesterday, “We remain very confident that the most important basics of the marathon can be delivered.” Organizers have dedicated the marathon to victims of Hurricane Sandy, and have canceled the Friday night opening ceremony and Saturday’s 5K. Still, while New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has given the okay to proceed with the race, others are voicing their concerns about going through with it.

A Facebook group named Cancel 2012 NYC Marathon has already popped up, calling for the organizers to do some “rational thinking” about continuing with the race. City residents have taken to posting directly on the marathon’s Facebook page asking for a cancellation. Susanna Caliendo wrote, “The last thing we can use here is a ton of people trying to get into NYC and/or crowding the streets of a city where at least one borough is 50 percent without power!” 

Still, while runners also have their concerns, some are still planning to make the trek to the Big Apple, Dorothy Beal included.

Beal, who ran the Marine Corps Marathon two weekends ago, says she wishes the race organizers would postpone the race for at least another week “so they could focus on more important things. But at the same time, I understand the feeling of wanting the show to go on.”

Aside from safety concerns, a big question among runners is whether the city can handle all of the traveling logistics. The NYC Marathon attracts more than 100,000 participants each year, from every state and internationally—not to mention the crowds of families and friends who line the city’s streets.

“I definitely have concerns, specifically with transportation,” says Ryan Hudson, the social media editor of SB Nation. “Will my family and I be able to easily get into the city on Saturday? And how will I get to the ferry on race morning? Will volunteers be able to get out on the course to provide water at the aid stations?”

Another reason runners won’t let Sandy stop them from competing: the high cost. This year US runners had to pay $216 for the November race, and international runners paid even more. “I feel like I have too much invested—both physically, in terms of training, and financially, in terms of the registration fee—to not go through with it,” says Hudson.

While the organizers are offering deferments, runners will still have to pay the $200-plus fee for next year’s marathon, a move that makes runners like Beal frustrated and angry. “If they are serious about our safety and care about the runners, they would take the loss and let us not pay the entry fee next year.”

“I know one thing for sure,” Beal adds. “This may be the one and only year I run [the NYC Marathon]. It’s not worth the trouble or the insane cost.”

Says Hudson, “At the very least, it should make for a good story later.”

Should New York City continue with the marathon this weekend? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.