Saturday, November 10, 2012

Proud to Be a Runner: New York Marathon Runners Volunteer to Help

After Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, there was a lot of debate in the media and on runner’s social network about whether or not the marathon should go on or be canceled. There was a lot of ill will related to the idea that people would consider running a race when so many people were suffering, diverting resources that might better have been used on recovery efforts.

On the social networks, there were also a lot of runners upset at the money that had been spent to enter and make travel arrangements to the marathon, as well as the time spent training that would be wasted. While I understand both of those concerns. Destination marathons are definitely not cheap, and New York is one of the most expensive of the bunch. I had written about the exorbitant cost of the New York Marathon in an earlier post on “How Much is Too Much?” for race entries. Most runners would probably have invested close to $1000 (many even more) in entry, travel expenses, etc., some of which might not be refundable.

However, to many people, myself included, it seemed a little selfish and shallow to have that as a primary concern in light of the devastation that had occurred to so many people.  I thought the organizers made the right decision in canceling the marathon, but the whole issue I felt left people with a negative impression of runners as being insensitive to the needs of others in the selfish pursuit of their sport.

That is why I was so happy when I came across the much lesser publicized news story about the runners who organized themselves into a volunteer effort to help the victims in the most hard-hit area, Staten Island. You may not have heard the story because it did not get nearly as much coverage as the debate over whether or not to cancel the marathon. In case you hadn’t heard, take a look at this:

Whether or not you agreed with the decision to cancel the marathon, it would be difficult not to be impressed by the actions of these runners. The video showed the side of runners that I was more familiar with, compassionate and socially responsible, willing to pitch in and help where help is needed. I have seen that side over and over in little ways in all of the running communities I have been a part of. Seeing that video made me proud to be a runner.

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