Right Decision, Wrong Time




After yesterday’s post about how I was convinced that this marathon would be a bit of a fail, I closed up the iPad and made my way to a movie theatre in Times Square. I had never been to the movies over here, so thought I’d give it a go. As we were hunkering down with some VERY salty popcorn to watch the new Denzel Washington movie (which was fairly good), Moody received a text from a work friend telling us that the marathon had been cancelled. Now before leaving the hotel, we had been reading online that calls to cancel were being made, but Bloomberg and NYRR (New York Road Runners) were adamant that the race would continue as normal. I figured that the said work friend had misinterpreted the news reports about this, so I contacted my trusty triathlete buddy Leeanne and got her to check online. According to the NYRR site, it was business as usual! Happy days, more popcorn please! Then I got another text. And another. Soon it became clear that the marathon was indeed off. We came out of the movies to see this in Times Square:


And that was that. No marathon. The announcement made at 6pm local time, a mere six hours after we had collected our bib numbers and race goodies; and bought ourselves official Asics marathon gear. A bit of a kick in the balls to be honest. Speaking of honesty, is it weird that I feel relieved at it being cancelled? That was my first reaction, though it gave way quite quickly to utter disappointment. Yes, I spent all day yesterday shitting myself at the very thought of lining up, but there was no way I was going to back out of it. I knew in my heart that, despite all the dread, I would love it. So the decision has been made to run tomorrow morning anyway. It may no longer be The New York Marathon, but it’s still a marathon in New York. I am still shitting myself, partly due to the distance, and partly because with a seriously depleted number of other runners – my chronic slowness will be more obvious! A lot of disaffected runners are planning to do their own thing tomorrow, but I think a fair number will be heading for Central Park – the location of the finish line. Despite shitting myself, it feels like a lot of the pressure is off now. It’s just like my last ever long run as opposed to an event. The one thing I am very disappointed about is not getting a medal, though the tour operator we are here with are trying to remedy that.

I think if the race had been cancelled before we left for New York, I would have been more gutted. I would have gone down the route of “Why me? I worked so hard! This cost me thousands of quid! It’s not fair!” etc etc, but I am comforting myself in the notion that the decision to cancel probably had been made then, but it was easier to let the thousands of runners and their families/friends come into the city and spend some money before letting them know the race was off. Maybe that assumption is a bit cynical on my behalf, but having seen the crowds of runners at the expo yesterday buying official gear, new trainers, endless Powerbar products, and God knows what else; I think it’s a poor show that the whole thing wasn’t called off sooner. Of course it would have been wildly insensitive to launch the race from Staten Island, and when you watch the news footage you can see the devastation in that part of the City. Could the route have been changed though? Was it even seriously considered? Who knows. Like I said yesterday, there’s no point crying over spilt energy gels. But I think the New Yorkers doing most of the yapping about the marathon would do well to remember the revenue generated every November by the ‘selfish runners’ who spend money getting here, and spend even more over marathon weekend. Even my crude arithmetic concludes that this runs into the millions. It’ll be interesting to see if the numbers are as buoyant next year.

I don’t know if I’ll be here next year, as I don’t know if I can allow the fat child inside me to experience the Big Apple three years in a row. All in the quest for physical perfection though, so who knows! One thing’s certain though, I won’t ever forget my BigFatMarathon. Or the people who supported me on the road to it.

Until the race day that never was,



3 thoughts on “Right Decision, Wrong Time

  1. I’ve heard $350 million in revenue to the city… And I also agree that waiting until Friday night to issue the cancellation was sort of a miserable move. Runners could’ve gotten refunds on their travel if it had been cancelled earlier. 😦
    (And… I understand why the race was cancelled, but no one told the Giants not to bring 80,000 fans to the Meadowlands… Seems unfair, no?)

    • It is a bit! As an international runner, I guess it’s easier to be outraged about it all, but if I was a New Yorker I think I’d find it hard to want the event to continue. It’s just a pity that the decision was left so late, but these things happen and it must have been a tough call to make. I’m a little bit pissed at the City of New York, but the New Yorkers out in force today handing out water, pretzels, Gatorade and candy along the course in Central Park were amazing. Brilliant support, and very genuine. My first marathon definitely won’t be forgotten in a hurry!

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