In the wake of the cancelation of the New York marathon, several race organizers reached out to displaced runners with a variety of discounted registration options
The Santa Barbara International Marathon offered registered New York runners entry into the event for $50.
I ran the Santa Barbara Marathon and talked to several people who had planned to run New York.
Every one of them said that they went to New York but wouldn't have if the race had been canceled just after Superstorm Sandy hit. They went with the assumption that the marathon would go on. When it didn't, they had to decide what to do Sunday morning in place of the marathon.
The two most common answers were 'running part of the course in Central Park' and 'voluteering out on Staten Island,' It's also important to note that everyone said that they went out and spent as much money as they could to help out the community. "My friends and I ate a lot and drank a lot, and I mean a lot" one runner confessed, quickly realizing that he was not alone, as others nodded in agreement.
Rusty Snow, Race Director of the Santa Barbara International Marathon, told me that about 100 displaced New York runners ran the California event. "We were hoping to expose these folks to our event and our strong running community hoping that they will return as we continue to make SBIM a world class event," said Snow.
He added that it was not difficult to make accomodations for the the last minute addition of the runners.
When the displaced New York runners were asked if they would run that marathon next year, the response was mixed. Most felt that they should not only get guaranteed entry but at least some sort of discount. "I paid $250 for it this year, I really don't want to pay another $250 next year," one runner explained. "I mean, the New York marathon is a big deal, but $500 just for registration for the marathon is pretty much out of my price range, and I imagine it is for a lot of people."
All of the runners said that they weren't going to make any decisions about next year until the New York Road Runners sorted things out from this year.
There's one last thing I'd like to say about what took place in New York in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Mere hours before the marathon was officially canceled, I wrote what I felt was a passionate article about why the marathon should be canceled. I stand by everything that I said in that article and will add that I still think the marathon should have been canceled immediately on Tuesday when all the damage to the city became apparent. Having said that, I want to offer this; yes, some people said Mayor Bloomberg and the race organizers purposefully waited until Friday to get runners to travel to New York to spend money. While that may or may not be true, I think we should look at this a little differently. Again, yes, the event should have been canceled early enough for people to cancel travel plans if they so desired. But let's think about what that would have meant. Those fabulous runners who went out to Staten Island to hand out supplies and to help residents clean out what was left of their destroyed homes; that would never have happened. Because chances are a majority of those runners would have stayed home. The support that the runners provided wouldn't have been there, because the runners wouldn't have been there.
So what happened happened, and maybe there was some weird cosmic force that intervened, that knew that if those runners came to town it would mean something more than the Mayor or the race organizers ever imagined. And that's just what happened.
There are many times in my life when I'm proud to say I'm a runner and this is one of them.
Run on, whether it be because you enjoy it, because you're raising money for a charity or you're taking water to someone who doesn't have it. Whatever you do, run on.
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