A few weeks ago, when everything in NYC was normal, I became a member of the New York Road Runners. In the past year, I'd run five NYRR races: the 2011 Ted Corbitt 15K, the 2012 NYC Half Marathon, a 5K race, and a 10K race, and the Staten Island Half Marathon. When I decided to register for the 2012 Ted Corbitt 15K, I decided to become a member so that I could get a discount. Membership was only $45, and I think I saved $20 on the Staten Island race, so I figured that it would pay off because I'd do a few more races. I was wrong.
The New York Road Runners is the nonprofit organization that hosts the NYC Marathon. As my previous two posts indicate, they grossly mishandled the situation. The very same parts I raced through in early October for the Staten Island Half (a great race, by the way) were the starting point for the Marathon, which was to take place Sunday. Those areas are completely destroyed. I noted all of the problems already, so I won't harp on it. But it was clear for many, many reasons that the NYRR should have canceled Sunday's race.
They finally did.
They canceled it, though, only after a huge public outcry. After money, time, and labor were invested in setting up for the race. After thousands of runners arrived in NYC. They didn't cancel the race until the public relations were so bad that they really had no choice. It was a tainted race, and they knew it. Even that jackass Bloomberg said that it was canceled because they didn't want people running under a cloud.
This organization put a lot of people at risk because of money. They should have canceled immediately, while the airports were still closed. However, something like 80% of their budget is derived from the Marathon. Do they not have disaster insurance in place? If not, that is insanely irresponsible. No organization should put so many eggs in one basket - especially one so dependent on decent weather conditions - without insurance. They also demonstrated extreme arrogance in the face of enormous suffering. Every single action they took screwed people - whether it was locals who didn't get resources they needed because we were prepping for a marathon or the runners who trekked out here and now can't get refunds for their travel.
They can take some action to save their reputation. They can donate the 60,000+ gallons of water they saved for the race to New Yorkers who have not had water for days. They can donate the energy gels and bananas to pantries and soup kitchens. They can still hold the pre-race pasta dinner, but do so in a community that was destroyed by the storm. They spit in the face of Staten Islanders, so that might be a good place, although it would really be great anywhere.
So what will they do next? I'm wearily watching. Their actions will dictate mine. If they don't do what is right - even at this belated stage - I will never, ever sign up for an NYRR race. That will suck, since they sponsor most of the NYC races and I usually enjoy them enormously. If I can cancel my membership and get a refund, I will do so. I do not want to be affiliated with an organization that cares so little about its community.
The NYRR website states that, "Running takes your body, mind, and spirit to a better place. The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward can make you healthier, happier, and more confident." I love that. But NYRR has to live up to it, and it failed us as of now. Let's see if they can make it right.