The 2012 New York City Marathon may have been canceled following misdirected public outrage, but marathoner pride is alive and well.
Despite having sunk thousands of dollars into marathon-related expenses such as hotel, flight and related fees, large contingents of runners —notably from European countries such as Germany and Italy — took to Central Park early Saturday morning (11/3/12) to run. Not for a medal, fan adulation or prize money, but for national pride, and for the love of running.
Central Park, which had been closed all week for cleanup after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the city, reopened at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, and groups of runners promptly showed up to run the park portions of the marathon course.
This year’s cancellation of the NYC Marathon is a first in the race’s 42-year history. Despite the fact that the 2001 NYC Marathon continued just seven weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and race president Mary Wittenberg made the last-minute decision to cancel the race following volcanic attacks against her, Bloomberg, the marathon and its runners.
“What was happening is people were criticizing runners, and there was a dynamic that was a really unhealthy dynamic and perception about runners and marathoners and people coming here that is not healthy for anybody,” said Wittenberg.
U.S. Olympic 5000-meter runner Julie Culley, who was going to make her marathon debut in New York, was astounded by the level of hatred directed at her on social media.
“It has been really hard,” she said. “People have been tearing me apart on Twitter, going after every comment that’s come out in every major publication, cursing at me. You know, this [hostility] just doesn’t happen in our sport.
“I think [the marathon] is just turning into the scapegoat for the city right now. And let’s not forget that this is obviously one of the major moneymakers for the city. There are millions and millions of dollars that are being dedicated to the relief effort because of this marathon. It blows my mind right now.”
While marathoners have come under attack for being elitist and out of touch, over 10,000 marathoners are expected to go to Staten Island to help with hurricane relief efforts. How many of those agitating against the marathon are doing the same?