This Year’s NYC Marathon Is Immoral: What We Talk About When We Talk About Running

I guess, run around the tanker?

  • Andrew Burton/ Getty Images
  • I guess, run around the tanker?

Staten Island has been devastated. The loss of life in that borough is higher than anywhere else in New York City and the damage to homes and property is practically incomprehensible. Most of Staten Island is still without power, many residents have no access to clean water, and gas shortages have prevented people from even having much freedom of movement. It is a humanitarian disaster that does not even have its parameters firmly established yet. Staten Island—like other parts of New York, like other parts of the region—is still digging out from Hurricane Sandy and needs all of the resources—both in terms of funds and manpower—that are available. That should be the priority, and yet, this Sunday, the priority for this city will be the NYC Marathon.

This Sunday, huge generators will be used to supply power at the starting line in storm-ravaged Staten Island, while tens of thousands of residents there remain powerless. This Sunday, important roads and bridges will be completely shut down to traffic so that the runners can get through. This renders emergency crews helpless to easily access certain areas, including, accessing Staten Island via the Verrazano Bridge. This Sunday, runners will—as they always do—leave trails of debris behind them as they shed clothes and toss aside empty cups. The cleaning crews that are designated to pick up after them would be better served to go to Coney Island or Breezy Point or Gerritsen Beach or the Rockaways or or or…there are countless places in New York City alone that could benefit from the manpower that is assigned to clean up the litter of the runners.

In fact, let’s talk about manpower for a minute. An estimated 40,000 runners will compete in this year’s New York City marathon, an event that necessitates an incredibly high level of physical fitness. Rather than invest the hours that they planned to spend running through a federally declared disaster area, it would be amazing if they would devote that time to volunteering and helping people that need it the most right now. Gawker reported on a Facebook chain mail that suggests to the runners that “half of you should turn around and run toward Hylan Blvd and go to Father Cappadanno or straight to Tottenville and help all those that lost their loved ones, lost their homes, lost everything in Staten Island… The other half should run through Brooklyn to Breezy Point to Long Island and help those that lost their homes and loved ones as well.”