I’ve been purposefully avoiding the NY Marathon’s Facebook page and other social media outlets since the marathon was canceled. And it’s not because I don’t want to know what’s going on or hear from them. Instead it’s because, to put it bluntly, other people’s stupidity makes me crazy.
Since Superstorm Sandy hit there has not been a shortage of opinions on the marathon both before the cancellation and now after it, as well. Before it got cancelled all the detractors took to social media to voice their outrage that it was still going to be run. And now that the marathon was canceled all the haters who feel cheated out of money are demanding justice.
I respect people’s right to their opinions and I also respect that this is a very emotional subject to many and that not everyone will see eye-to-eye on the matter. However, what ticks me off is when a person won’t even try to see the other side. You don’t have to agree with them but can you TRY to see both sides of the coin?
I just jumped on to the NY Marathon’s Facebook page and people are still very angry and are demanding everything from Mary Wittenburg’s resignation to full refunds and free entry into future races, etc. And I’m especially enjoying the conspiracy opinions that Mayor Bloomberg didn’t cancel the race until Friday to lure all of the marathoners to New York just so he could get the money they’d spend in the city.
First, let me say, I was as upset as anyone about how this all played out. As a marathoner who was looking forward to running her first NY Marathon, I was devastated that the marathon was canceled. I’ve had, what I’m categorizing as a pretty crappy last two years and I was looking forward greatly to the marathon and this vacation. I used the NY Marathon as my light at the end of the tunnel and the thought of running over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge or through Central Park to the finish line helped me stay focused and ignore a lot of other crap going on around me.
And besides the mental and emotional hit I felt with the cancellation of the marathon, let me just say it was a rather large (at least to my meager pocket-book) hit to my finances as well. Between me and my husband who was also supposed to run it, we are talking about $700 in lost entry fees, $90 in pasta dinner tickets, about $300 in official marathon merchandise (yep that’s right, we bought merchandise prior to the marathon being canceled), about $740 in airfare and another $2100 for hotel accommodations. So without taking into account cabs, meals etc. I lost about $3930 – almost $4,000. And I don’t have an extra $4,000 just lying around. My husband and I are lucky enough to take vacations here and there but we also work our butts off to do so. Each one is paid with cash because we don’t believe in using credit cards to charge our fun. And we pay cash because we each have no less than 3 jobs. I have a full-time job and 2 part-time jobs. My husband has a full-time job, and at last count, 3 part-time jobs. So, trust me when I say it’s a hard pill to swallow working as hard as we do and being out over $4,000 and not even having run the marathon we had planned on running. And worse yet, if I do want to run it next year I’ll have to spend all that money over again. Yikes.
However, that’s what I’ll do because that’s what I’m going to choose to do. That’s right, it’s a choice to run a marathon, not a right. Especially not New York. I knew signing up for NY or any race for that matter, that it could get cancelled due to something such as weather (but lord I swear I never thought a fricken hurricane would be what caused the cancellation) and that’s the risk I took by signing up, paying those huge fees and signing my name to the dotted line. I was gambling that the odds of the marathon that’s been run for over 40 years would go off again without a hitch. But it didn’t.
And was the cancellation handled properly? In my opinion, no. But because they’ve never had to cancel the marathon in over 40 years and never expected to have to deal with their city cleaning up after a superstorm of this magnitude before, they probably didn’t have a contingency plan in place for this. They surely didn’t have a “what to do if a freak-of-nature storm hits all 5 boroughs, 5 days before the marathon” section of their Operations Manual. And what was really frustrating was the, the-show-must-go-on-and-yes-we’re-going-to-run-the-marathon press conferences held on Wednesday and Thursday prior to the marathon. Then I heard… oh wait a minute, no we’re canceling the marathon less than 48 hours later. This really kind of chaped my ass.
Yes, I’m out money, and am disappointed I don’t have anything to show for all of my training and hard work. And I also don’t think they handled the cancellation properly. But I also think everyone needs to ease the frick-up. The level of outrage is blowing my mind. Life goes on and if this is what is keeping these haters up at night, I think they should consider themselves lucky they have nothing else to complain about. I especially think they should be grateful that they aren’t one of the thousands who are without homes at this very moment because their houses were destroyed. I’m thinking that as Thanksgiving approaches they should take a step back and rethink things. Perhaps be thankful they have a table to sit down to for Thanksgiving dinner. (As I was writing this post I got an email from the United Way asking for a meager $15 donation to help give a Thanksgiving meal to people on Coney Island that may not have a hot meal otherwise.) Be thankful that you don’t need the United Way to provide you with a Turkey come Thursday.
So, while you’re bitching and complaining about how horrible the big-bad NY Marathon is, I challenge you to volunteer your time and energy to the relief efforts. If you don’t live in the NY area, find another place to volunteer. And I’m not taking about donating your money, I’m talking about donating your time. Go and feed the hungry at a shelter or go clean up after a house fire. And when you do, I want to know if you’re still as bitter and as angry about losing your entry fee to the NY Marathon? When you meet someone who’s problem is not having a hot meal or a home, I guarantee that your problem about being taken advantage of by the marathon will seem incredibly small and petty in comparison.
And how do I know this? Because I was bitter too. I was heart-broken at the thought of not running the marathon and was just mad at the situation. But then I spent two days on Staten Island and helped with the relief efforts. Only a stone-hearted person – or a real jackass – could walk the devastated streets of Staten Island, see the people cry and listen to their heart wrenching stories and still be pissed off about not getting a refund (on a non-refundable entry fee, mind you) on their registration fees.
So, while you’re waiting to hear whether or not the Marathon refunds you your money and this week, of all weeks, I ask that you stop bitching and start being grateful. And if you need something to be grateful for, here’s a toast I’ll let you borrow that was once told by a very wise man:
Here’s a toast to life; I’m so very grateful for mine!