Monday, November 5, 2012

Thoughts and questions around the NYC Marathon

First, a little level setting and apologies in advance for the venting.

I was scheduled to run the NYC Marathon in 2012. I deferred my entry a few months ago as my training wasn't what it needed to be. In fact, my training was nonexistent. I deferred at that time so that I would have the option to register for the marathon in 2013. I understood that I would have to pony up the funds again but that was the deal (at that time). I haven't determined if the marathon will be on my calendar for next year yet. I thought I had time to make that decision.

I completely agree that the Marathon should not have been held. I think the communication around the initial non-canceling and subsequent canceling was horrific. I also think that there was no consistency with sporting events in the city. Yes, opening day between the Knicks and Nets was cancelled but the Knicks played a game in the Garden, the Nets played a game in the Barclay, and the Giants hosted a game last weekend. I believe that these activities diverted critical staff (police, etc) from the recovery efforts even though the claim is not. There is, of course, a public relations aspect to it as to convince people that NYC is open for business but it is not fully there as there are areas of the city still in crisis. I have yet to go into the city as trains are still limited, lack of gas is preventing driving in, tunnels are still closed, and other stuff. My office in lower Manhattan doesn't have heat with suspect electricity even today. Other buildings won't be inhabitable for a while. Portions of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Long Island, and New Jersey are much worse. There is a nor'easter expected this week to pile on.

Back to the marathon though. When I deferred the deal was that I would get the option to register without going through the lottery again. Will there even be a lottery for 2013? Will they give any credit for the people who paid full freight in 2012 in 2013? Typically they say no refunds mean no refunds and I can understand that some of the entry fees were already spent. A local tri which was cancelled in 2011 due to Hurricane Irene gave the option for 2011 registrants to enter at a reduced fee prior to opening up general registration in 2012. This worked well but NYC marathon is a much bigger scale.

There is the question of appearance fees for the pro runners but I'll let them work that out them work that out.

In essence, though, everyone deferred for the NYC marathon in 2013. Do they set up different classes of deferrals based on when they deferred? If everyone eligible for 2013 reregistered, would there be any slots left? I think there would be but how many of them would be filled with the 9+1 guaranteed entry program. Would that program even still get someone in or will they cancel it even though some people already did the 9 races with one volunteer.

NYC marathon is a bucket list event for many. Coming in from out of state can get expensive. People spent a lot of money to not race in 2012 that may not be able to pay that price again. Training for a marathon means investing a lot of time that may not be possible next year for some participants as well.

Canceling wasn't an easy decision. I'm sure there will be more hard decisions for the 2013 Marathon. This crisis has realized that communication is paramount to manage expectations. Hope this lesson is learned by all and we'll hear the policy and procedure decisions as quickly as possible without impacting the recovery.


Unknown said...

I totally agree with most of the above, and hope your power situation has some resolution (is Wednesday still the ETA? Frustrating.)

As for the marathon, you're right that many won't be able to use their deferments. Obviously I can only speculate, but I would think they will open registration for those with guarantees (deferred, 9+1, or time standards) and see what fills up / who can still afford to enter again. Then if there's anything left, have a lottery for those spots?

Annette@(running)In the Right Direction said...

I didn't know u guys were allowed to defer any more...I thought that was no more?....I think they r going to have two.... my opinion. one in in fall

Al's CL Reviews said...

I was wondering about basically everything you just wrote about.

I'm glad they cancelled the marathon, but the city really sucked on waiting so late.

I hope you get power soon. My friend on LI is going on day 8. She goes to work, just to get heat.

Carolina John said...

Yea, they did the best they could with the information that they had. It was right to try and it was right to cancel. It wasn't right for other people to complain about it. It's like a lot of people wanted to blame the city planners for a natural disaster. come on.

Shelly said...

Hadn't thought about this impact of canceling the marathon. Hope you will have your spot for 2013.

I think the mayor made 2 bad decisions, the first to have the marathon and the second to cancel it last minute. I think it was the right decision to cancel, but the wrong time.

I also work in NYC, in midtown. Glad to be back at work with few issues in this part of town.

Scott said...

I am in agreement that the City should have canceled the marathon quicker than it did. But hindsight is always 20/20.

Sarah said...

Interesting, I hope you get in next year! I did read that they are phasing out the process so that it becomes a qualified marathon, like Boston. That's just based on reading up on their site, so I may have heard wrong, but I thought that was interesting. Wondering how big these events are going to get with popularity and then becoming available only through qualification and fundraising. Total random sidebar, lol