Turnabout on NYC Marathon Decision

NYC Marathon 2012Hopeful NYC Marathon runners received the bad news: the 2012 Marathon has been cancelled. This reverses Mayor Bloomberg's decision announced during the week.

The initial decision to continue the marathon received harsh criticism, with New Yorkers concerned that resources needed to rebuild the city after Hurricane Sandy would be redirected to the event. Organizers of the marathon became increasingly concerned about divisiveness over the decision and announced a cancellation, after all.

George Hirsch, chairman of the board of Road Runners, which oversees the marathon said, "The marathon is about uniting the city. But all it was doing was dividing it. Is that what the New York City Marathon is all about? No, not at all."

In an email, the Road Runners organization explained the decision. The positioning is interesting and a topic of criticism on Twitter: organizers defend the initial decision and blame the media and controversy in forcing the decision:

It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that the 2012 ING New York City Marathon has been canceled.

The decision was made after it became increasingly apparent that the people of our city and the surrounding tri-state area were still struggling to recover from the damage wrought by the recent extreme weather conditions. That struggle, fueled by the resulting extensive and growing media coverage antagonistic to the marathon and its participants, created conditions that raised concern for the safety of both those working to produce the event and its participants. While holding the race would not have required diverting resources from the recovery effort, it became clear that the apparent widespread perception to the contrary had become the source of controversy and division. Neither NYRR nor the City could allow a controversy over the marathon to result in a dangerous situation or to distract attention from all the critically important work that is being done to help New York City recover from the storm. 

NYRR, in partnership with the Rudin Family and the ING Foundation, has established the "Race to Recover" Marathon Fund to aid New Yorkers impacted by the storm. Over $2.6 million has been raised, including a $1 million donation by NYRR. We are asking you to join us by making a $26.20 donation, or whatever you can afford, to help bring recovery and hope to those communities and families most affected. Proceeds will go to Hurricane Sandy Relief, administered by the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. You can also donate to the relief effort through NYRR's fundraising platform, CrowdRise, which includes the American Red Cross and other charities.

NYRR will redeploy the marathon resources and materials toward the recovery effort. We will share the details of this project as they are finalized in the days ahead.

We all recognize this has been a very challenging time in New York City that has impacted so many people, including you, our runners. Please know that this is one of the toughest decisions we have ever made, and that we deeply appreciate your support.

According to one New York Times article, the cancellation will cost the city an "immense" amount of money.

(Image source of the finish line before the marathon was cancelled, showing a fallen crane in the background.)

Discussion Starters:

  • What's your view of the email from Road Runners? How well does it explain the decision, and how convincing is the rationale?
  • What this the best decision for NYC? Why or why not?