the show goes on

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Flights are landing at JFK, the subway is partially open and apparently, the New York City Marathon will happen Sunday. (No one knows exactly how the runners will get to the starting line yet, though.)

If you've been following the story in the news or looking at the NYCM Facebook page, you know how controversial the race has become. Some people feel it should go on, that it will be a metaphor of the city's resilience, that New York needs the tourist dollars. Others feel it's selfish -- the race requires too much manpower, and the police, emergency crews and volunteers should be helping with post-Sandy cleanup, not looking after tens of thousands of marathoners.

I see both sides, and part of me does wish the race was cancelled -- it really does seem like such a silly, frivolous event in the grand scheme of things. Also, the New York Road Runners' maybe-it-will-maybe-it-won't stance the past few days has been really frustrating. (How many times do I have to check the website and see the same message about this being a "very challenging time" and please check back later for more "details"?) As someone who works in communications, I feel the NYRR's strategy (or lack thereof) has been absolutely atrocious. Their social media posts were calendared ahead of time, so while there was a raging storm outside, their Facebook page was telling people to "get excited" for race day. They didn't address the weather concerns until the storm was actually happening, even though the media had been talking about it for days. They also still haven't confirmed online that the race is indeed taking place, even though it's been in the news. And the deferment deadlines and race week schedule are all still outdated on the site.

I realize they likely have family and other more important things to take care of, but you'd think that an organization that holds 50 events each year and receives almost $300 per entry for the marathon would have a crisis communications plan in place and a team to execute it. Just my two cents from a PR perspective.

That said, I'm going to run. I was still planning to go to New York even if the race had been cancelled (I have family and friends there), and now that it's officially happening, I'm just going to do it. Yes, I feel guilty, but in some ways, I also feel like it's my job. I signed up to do this, so I should do it. And I should support the local economy while I'm at it.

Also, I don't want to give the NYRR any more money. If you defer, you don't get your entry fee back, plus you have to pay again to run next year. (And if you count my deferment from last year, a 2013 marathon would cost me $900 in entry fees. That's more than a full Ironman!)

So yeah, I guess this will be me come Sunday.

(Come on, you have to admit it's kind of funny. OK, never mind. I'm an asshole. Throw rotting vegetables at me.)

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