Two days before the annual New York City Marathon is set to begin, the race is seeing considerable opposition from both runners and city officials who feel that a marathon after Hurricane Sandy is a waste of city resources.
The New York City Marathon will require use of the city’s generators, volunteers, and police force in order to operate after Hurricane Sandy. Because many residents in Lower Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island are without power or shelter, many are against Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s decision to continue on with the race.
Many runners who registered to compete in the marathon have altered their plans in the light of Hurricane Sandy and will now spend Sunday volunteering in storm-battered areas of Staten Island. The Facebook group, NYC Marathon of Relief Efforts (NYC MORE), has organized almost 400 runners in a charitable protest of New York City Marathon.
From the NYC MORE Facebook page: “Runners will show up at the starting line, but will break off en masse at different points of the city to deliver supplies to places hardest hit and without power. This will mean departing from the race, to head to various buildings, running up and down stairs delivering water and canned goods, etc.”
NYC MORE also added, “Runners who want to help should post the words “I’M HERE TO HELP” somewhere on their bodies.”
Another runner, Penny Krakoff, of Brooklyn, spoke to Gothamist about her plans to abandon the marathon in favor of relief efforts on Staten Island.
“Sunday morning I will catch the marathon bus to Staten Island,” Krakoff told Gothamist. “Not planning to run. Plan to volunteer instead and gather resources (extra clothes, bottles of water, food from runners at the start). Let's not waste resources and attention on a foot race.”
And it isn’t just runners that are publicly protesting the New York City Marathon. Several high-profile figures within the government have questioned the city’s judgment on allowing the marathon to use the city’s resources in a time of need.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has come out publicly against the New York City Marathon, arguing that the city must be focusing all its efforts on relief for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
“New York has experienced a tragedy of historic proportions,” Stringer said in a statement. “New Yorkers in Staten Island, the Rockaways, Coney Island and Lower Manhattan are struggling to keep body and soul together, deprived of basic essentials as temperatures drop.
"For this reason, and after significant deliberation, I believe we should postpone and re-schedule the New York City Marathon in order to focus all of the City's resources on the crucial task of helping our neighbors recover from this disaster. New Yorkers deserve nothing less than to know that the entire government is focused solely on returning the City and their region back to normalcy.”
Bloomberg, however, sees the race in a different light. Because ConEd expects to restore power across the city by Saturday night, Bloomberg argues that the marathon won’t be a drain on the city’s emergency resources or police force.
"There are lots of people who have come here," he said to CNN. "It's a great event for New York, and I think 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."
Bloomberg also added that "an awful lot of small businesses" rely on the annual race to boost income.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.