Shouting ‘Out’ NOT ‘At’ the NYC Marathoners…

There’s no doubt that tragedy can bring out the best in people. In the wake of the devastation of Sandy, I’ve heard heartwarming stories of rescue, strangers lending a helping hand to their neighbors, and people generously giving to the victims of the storm.

However, I am sad to say that what I’ve witnessed is quite the opposite. In the midst of tragedy, there is a division at a time where we should be unified. The sense of entitlement has bothered me whether it be watching people cut the lines for gas or seeing folks refuse to stop at broken traffic lights. If there is something to complain about, someone is getting angry. I can understand the stress of not having electricity and inconveniences of not being able to get where we want to go with ease, but to go crazy over a marathon? C’mon people.

On my ride home from work today, I heard an announcer on the radio tease a story about the NYC Marathon by saying “Bad News Travels Fast- NYC Marathon is On.” On Facebook and Twitter, there were ubiquitous angry posts surrounding the marathon directed at Bloomberg, the race organizers, and even the runners. And later this afternoon, Bloomberg caved and cancelled the marathon. My question is why?

I do not deny that Sandy has created awful devastation around the city and beyond. It is understandable that folks are upset about the circumstances that have resulted, but this was a natural disaster. No one wished for this to happen and more importantly no one caused this.

The thing that NYC needs most right now is a marathon. Having ran two marathons and spectated many more, there is nothing more uplifting than being in the mix of marathoners. We come in all shapes and sizes and from all backgrounds and contrary to popular belief, we aren’t evil or pretentious. Our running is not meant to cause you grief. Trust me after running, the grief we will face is our own.

Yes, we all come for a common goal: the finish line, which just happens to be 26.2 miles from the start line. Some of the most inspiring moments of my life have occurred during the course of these miles- Seeing a father wheel his paraplegic son through the streets of Boston, running next to a man who had no use of his lower body in Sacramento, and following a man carrying a 6 foot cross strapped to his back in L.A. I am not alone. I have taken first-time marathon spectators to races and they too become instant believers. Marathoners are not unlike most of you in the light of this tragedy. They struggle, they sacrifice, they face disappointment, but they also overcome. A powerful lesson for all.

Thus even though there isn’t going to be a marathon, I congratulate all the “would be” marathoners for your hard work and dedication. We all can learn something from you. Do not forget your efforts, your training and your sacrifice as they do not go unnoticed. Even though you will not be running the race this Sunday, you’ve worked hard to accomplish this goal and I hope you do not give up. Do what marathoners do- prevail through this like the champs that you are.

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