NYC Marathon Cancelled, Finally. This Mom Would Have Cheered On The Runners.

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My son was born on November 1, 2010. The NYC Marathon took place on November 7. I was recovering from a C-section, totally overwhelmed by new motherhood and pretty depressed. And then the marathon came running by my window. I remember breaking into a huge smile, bringing my newborn to the window, and cheering – tears streaming down my face.

I’ve lived on the NYC Marathon route for the past 10 years. Every year, I have cheered the runners on – and I would have this year, too. Not because I thought it was particularly appropriate to still have the marathon resume after all of the devastation New Yorkers have faced – but because I don’t think it was fair that the moral responsibility for the event was placed on the backs of the runners.

The storm happened on Monday. There was almost a full week to cancel the marathon – sparing people from travelling thousands of miles to come to a city that was not ready in any way to receive them. And we knew we weren’t ready to recieve them. Especially to run a race that started on Staten Island – one of the areas Sandy hit the hardest. What an image that would have been – thousands of runners prepping to start a race amidst total devastation. How could the world have felt good about watching that? How could the runners start a race on that note?

As the days after the storm went on, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg just kept insisting that the city had enough resources to handle the marathon, and holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort. Doubters responded with a petition, and a huge public outcry to postpone the race. Finally, Bloomberg listened and cancelled the race. Two days before it was set to happen. From CNN:

And after the public outcry grew close to deafening Friday, city and race officials announced they would cancel the race for the first time in its 42-year history. “While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division,” a statement from the mayor said.

With so many people still needing assistance, I find this really hard to believe. The NY Post reports today that residents in the Rockaways are still waiting for help.

We haven’t gotten any help,” said Kathy Gambino, 51, who lives on flooded Rockaway Beach Boulevard. “Politicians are just driving by in their nice cars. Why don’t they come speak to us and tell us what we need to do?”

Gambino’s neighbor Regina McManus evacuated, as Mayor Bloomberg asked, but returned to a first-floor home that had absorbed four feet of water.

“I understand I need to wait my turn,” McManus said. “But please tell me: When will it be my turn?”

With stories like these, it is clear that no matter what politicians say, we need all of the resources we have to help our residents get back on their feet. I totally support the postponement of the marathon – I just hate the way it was done. We should have given the runners more time. Saved them from spending money to travel all the way over here and put themselves up in one of the most expensive cities in the world. That wasn’t fair.

If mayor Bloomberg hadn’t come to his senses I would have cheered for the runners, as I always have. And I certainly don’t blame those that are upset at the circumstances of such a late cancellation.

(photo: Allen.G/