The Next Marathon
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
Congratulations are in order for the New York Post, which has finally found a way to expose the New York City Marathon for the boor that it has become. The Post saw early how galling it would have been to divert generators and money and bottled water and law enforcement and attention to the marathon at a time when millions of New Yorkers were suffering in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The president of New York City Roadrunners, Mary Wittenberg, who oversees the race here, fought this logic all the way. When she lost, she turned around and, in a petulant outburst, started blaming the press for her predicament. The Post promptly launched a campaign for her resignation. We wish the paper luck.
The Post has illuminated something that has been bothering at least some of us New Yorkers for years. We don’t know how to quantify the size of the faction. It may or may not be a majority. But there are those of us who have never understood where a private club and the bank for which they have emerged as a marketing exercise come off taking over so much of the public space in the city for their private business. They take over our bridges, expressways, avenues, and parks, and force many who rely on them to maneuver around their vainglory. Wikipedia estimates that 2 million persons come out to cheer the runners. In a city the size of New York, that means three quarters of New Yorkers are not cheering.
Or to put this another way, the thing for Mrs. Wittenberg to bear in mind is that the New York Post is the centrist in this contretemps. It has been campaigning merely for the city’s leadership and the marathon authorities to get their priorities straight in respect of the current catastrophe. It had the savvy, the values to grasp that the wake of Hurricane Sandy was no time for the city of New York to be fooling around with a marathon. There are, however, others who would just as soon see the New York City Marathon be canceled permanently. We have no beef with the runners personally; we admire their athletic stamina. We just sense the time has come for the marathon to move to another location altogether, maybe Alaska, where there is a lot of unused space. It even has, in Sarah Palin, an ex-governor who is a runner even more celebrated than Ms. Wittenberg and who has far more empathy with — far more ability to connect with — people.