My mother has been waiting a very long time and with mounting excitement to run the ING New York City Marathon. She was rejected through the lottery system three years in a row, but was accepted to run in the 2012 marathon. She has been training for months, and her friends and family plan to gather in Manhattan to support her. But today she decided to stay home instead.
“I think it’s terrible that they are going forward with it when so many are suffering,” she told me. The marathon will distract from the needs of hurricane victims, who will turn into a blur behind the runners as they act as though nothing just happened to the city they are racing through.
The ING Marathon, like any sporting event, is a demonstration both of physical well-being and of general good cheer and fun. These are all things that victims of Hurricane Sandy in Hoboken, Long Island and New York City are lacking right now.
Millions of dollars have already been spent on the marathon, but millions more will be spent in the coming days as organizers have to use even more resources to get the event going in our crippled city.
Transportation issues such as getting runners to the starting point on Staten Island will overshadow i
ssues like overcrowded buses, limited subway service and horrific traffic jams. In fact, the marathon will only worsen those issues as more people flood to the city to participate in and watch the spectacle.
According to Mayor Bloomberg and the marathon organizers, the marathon creates a huge economic boost for the city each year. But this is sure to have a smaller impact this time around. Fewer out-of-town runners will come to the marathon due to transportation difficulties, and many businesses that would otherwise benefit from it are still closed because of power outages and storm damage.
The city would do better to postpone the marathon to a date when it can truly help the city, not one when it must necessarily complicate an already difficult situation.
I would be so proud of my mom if she ran the marathon, just like I’m proud of all her other accomplishments. But I am much more proud to say that she is sticking with her principles. She doesn’t want to be among the crowd pulling resources and attention from victims in need, and New York would do better if more marathoners like her stayed home this weekend.
Jessica Littman is deputy opinion editor. Email her at email@example.com.