Tuesday, November 6, 2012


"If you had to describe this weekend in one word, what word would you use?", I asked as we drove home from the Buffalo Airport at 11pm on Sunday night.

"Disappointing", replied Doug. 

And so ended his dream of running the 2012 New York City Marathon. 

Let's back up a few days though because there are lots of stories between now and then that really need to be told. 

Hurricane Sandy started it all. She hit and she hit hard. Particularly on Staten Island where the marathon begins. People on the mainland were flooded and lost power but people on Staten Island lost everything. 

The city was a mess and the marathon was days away. Runners from around the globe were set to travel in New York. What to do? What to do? 

On Wednesday night, Doug, and all 47,000 other runners received an email from the New York Road Runners. The race would go on. It would be dedicated to the recovery effort in New York and runners were encouraged to donate to the cause. We were going. We didn't know what to expect. We didn't know if our hotel would have power or if they would have to reroute the race but we were going. 

We arrived at JFK airport on Friday at 11am. We took the Airporter to Grand Central Terminal and walked about 12 blocks to our hotel. Police officers were stationed at every intersection to control traffic because there was no power. We walked past 3rd Avenue - no power. Fourth - no power. Fifth Avenue - the most famous street in NYC - no power. It was full of people but eerily quiet as all stores and restaurants were closed with signs saying, you guessed it, no power. 

At Seventh Avenue, there was power. Our hotel was between 8th and 9th and, with a sigh of relief, we discovered that we had power and running water. The lobby was crawling with runners. There were signs posted in Flemmish (?) and French as apparently a contingent of 30 runners from Belgium were staying in the hotel. As were runners from Germany and France. We unpacked and headed to a little café for lunch were we found ourselves sitting between people from New Jersey. They had made the trip to Manhattan because they had been without power and running water for several days and needed a shower. One guy was a massage therapist who couldn't work because his office had not power. He had several full days of massages booked with marathon runners. None of them were going to get their pre-race massage - from him at least. 

After lunch, we headed for the Expo.

It was Friday afternoon and it was throbbing with excited runners. We heard so many different languages and saw huge groups of people who had obviously come from all over the world to be there. They had team jackets made. They were buying up all the swag at an alarming rate. Alarming for me but not for Adidas I'm sure. 

Doug got his race packet and his orange race shirt. 

We explored the expo, nibbled on chia bar samples and chatted with, oh yes my friends, the Tel Aviv Marathon folks. I was thrilled to see them and proudly informed them that I would be running the 2013 half. They were in turn pretty excited to hear that.  

Gillette is the main sponsor - maybe we get free razors or leg shaves before the race??

We marvelled at the number of people there and commented on how the race organizers had made the right decision to go ahead with the marathon. If for no other reason than the surge of money that the runners and their families bring in to the city. 

We walked back to the hotel, excited and chatting about everything we had seen. 

Doug settled at his laptop to reply to a few emails. I settled on the bed with all the race books to go over every tiny bit of instruction for Sunday - like the 8-step process for attaching the timing chip to your shoe. Halfway through the first book I logged in to Facebok and spotted our friend Cathy's post: "New York City Marathon will not be held this weekend. We heard this 20 minutes after we picked up our bibs." 


We hopped on the internet. We turned on the television. We discovered very quickly that this was not a joke. 

We were stunned. We were so sad. We completely understood why the decision was made but were upset by the timing. THEY said it was on. THEY told us to come. WE came. 

If they had announced it on Wednesday - thousands of people would not have made the trip. By announcing it on Friday - most of the runners were already in town or en route. Runners began hearing the news at the expo, on the street, on the internet, in their hotel lobbies and from friends. 

Runners broke down and cried. Runners were furious. Runners were relieved and sad and hurt and...disappointed. 

It might have been the right decision but it was not handled well. 

We called and changed our return flight to Sunday afternoon. We headed out for dinner. We saw runners and their families everywhere we turned - looking lost and upset. We sent emails to let people know what was happening. 

We went to bed. 


  1. Poor Doug. I'm sure that was very disappointing.

    Lisa and I were talking about this on Sunday morning, and we both echoed conflicting sentiments about whether it was right to hold it at all and whether bringing all of the runners and guests would help or hurt the recovery efforts. I think we felt it was the right decision to cancel, but we definitely felt that NYRR should have made the decision much, much earlier.

    There was a picture in the NY Times yesterday of some people who ran the course anyway (unsupported, of course). In this photo, three runners--one with his race number on--ran past a line of people queuing to buy gasoline. With images like that magnified many times over, it would have been a PR disaster for NYRR to have held the race.

    Oh... I wonder how many people didn't find out until they made it to Staten Island on Sunday. Yikes!

  2. Many thoughts of you and Doug were had over the weekend as I learned it had been cancelled - on and then re-cancelled again.
    I texted Erin and said, "OMG, NYC, Doug! :("
    it happened. Something like that doesn't happen all the time but it happened.
    And as everybody is pretty much agreeing on the fact that what the hell were they waiting for? If it was that serious that they had to cancel, don't you think they would have known to cancel it before half the marathon running world descended upon New York City? I mean, c'mon.

    yeah, I'm preaching what we all already are thinking.

    I'm just glad ya'll are alright.