Despite vocal criticism of some who call the move insensitive, having the marathon go on as scheduled is the best possible decision under the circumstances.
After visiting the media center for the NYC Marathon today, it’s obvious there is a lot of preparation underway, not only by media, but by park employees working around the clock to clean up Central Park before hundreds of thousands of people converge on the venue Nov. 4.
The marathon is, in many ways, helping expedite the clean-up, not only to make sure the park (and the city) is presentable for TV audiences around the world, but for running fans, and the 47,000 runners who have trained for months for the race.
In making his decision, Bloomberg cited the event’s financial and symbolic significance. “Some people said you shouldn’t run the marathon,” said Bloomberg, 70. “There’s an awful lot of small businesses that depend on these people. We have to have an economy. There’s lots of people that have come here.
“It’s a great event for New York, and for those who were lost, you’ve got to believe they would want us to have an economy and have a city go on for those that they left behind.”
Similarly, race officials pointed to the race’s significance to the city as both an athletic event and as a revenue producer.
“The marathon really epitomizes the spirit of New York City: the vitality, the tenacity, the determination of New Yorkers,” said Mary Wittenberg, president of the New York Road Runners, which organizes the NYC Marathon.
“We’re dedicating this race to the lives that were lost and helping the city recover.”
The New York City Marathon and the financial impact it has on the city (estimated at $350 million) can provided much-needed revenue to help with hurricane recovery.
Wittenberg also pointed out that the 2001 NYC Marathon continued just seven weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — the largest non-natural disaster in U.S. history — as a way to show the world the city’s resilience.
The mayor and race officials made the decision after determining that the race’s 26.2-mile course would be safe this weekend. The course, which starts in Staten Island, goes through all five of the city’s boroughs, finishing at Central Park, which remains closed for post-hurricane clean-up.
While some have slammed the NYRR on its Facebook page for not canceling the marathon, even top contenders say having the event proceed is a good idea.
“[Going forward with the marathon is] something positive,” said American Meb Keflezighi, who won the race in 2009.
“Because it will be motivation to say, ‘Look what happened, and we’ll put on the race, and we’ll give them a good show.’ ”
[Update: The 2012 NYC Marathon has been canceled.]