I am sorry to harp on the disastrous idea of the NYC Marathon taking place on Sunday as originally planned, but the closer it gets, the more obvious it is that this is a totally and utterly inappropriate event right now.
Mayor Bloomberg and the New York Road Runners want to host this race. The mayor says it brings millions of dollars to the city, money we clearly need right now. However, it is clear that we won’t get as much as he claims it will bring. The airports just reopened, but thousands of flights were canceled, and it is unlikely that everyone scheduled to come can get here anyway. If they do, they can’t spend what they would have. Under normal circumstances, people would shop, eat out, and use various forms of transit. However, many shops and restaurants are closed. Hotels in various areas have been evacuated. Mass transit is running at a fraction of capacity, and today’s New York Times reported that soon there will be fewer cabs because of fuel shortages.
Further, Mayor Bloomberg and the New York Road Runners claim that the Marathon shows that New Yorkers are resilient. Yes, we are resilient. But we don’t need to prove that to the world – everyone already knows that we are a strong and amazing city. Unfortunately, we’ve shown this before. The way we showed it, however, was not by staging enormous events with 60,000+ people tromping through all five boroughs in previous crises. Instead, we showed it by banding together as a city, helping one another, and using our limited resources wisely. That is absolutely not what this race does.
Here’s the situation: As noted above, we have severe transportation issues. There are three hour waits for people from Brooklyn to get buses into Manhattan. There is no subway service below 34th Street at all. Buses do not run below 23rd at night because it is so dark it is dangerous. Taxis are about to run out of fuel, further reducing the ability to get people around. The ferry terminal in Staten Island has been extensively damaged, with only one slip operable. It is absolutely insane to try and bring 45,000+ runners to Staten Island and end with about as many in one place on the Upper West Side.
Speaking of Staten Island, the situation there is pretty gruesome. About 65% of residents have no power, meaning no electricity, no water, no flushing toilets. They are pulling bodies from flooded areas just blocks away from the start of the race. A makeshift morgue was set up in a local school to accommodate the bodies. People are begging for food and water, and for their streets to be cleared of trees and wires. What’s the city doing? Helping NYRR set up the start of the Marathon in the backyard of all of these people.
Further,the NYRR is setting up generators to power their fucking race course and port-a-potties to meet runners’ extensive needs through these very same areas. They have over 62,000 gallons of water for runners, and over 350 portable toilets. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of pounds of bananas and gels are available for the runners.
Far be it from me to suggest that the people in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan with no power might need those supplies more than the need the supposed “morale boost” of thousands of people running through their communities while they suffer without basic needs. The Marathon is not only a logistical nightmare, but it is a slap in the face to people who live here. It shows that the mayor cares more about tourists and their dollars than the citizens and our long-term contributions to the city. Yes, the Marathon may bring in some dollars, but in the long-term, without a functioning city, we lose so much more. This is actually an immoral race at this point.
Tags: New York City Marathon