This? Is INSANE!

I woke up this morning to be greeted by the news that there will be no baggage service at the New York City Marathon this year.

Yes, you read that right. The marathon that wants to bill itself as the best in the world has eliminated the ability for runners who are participating in a NOVEMBER marathon to have clean and dry clothes to change into after running 26.2 miles. Oh, but they’ll give you a fleece-lined poncho.

Don’t believe me? It’s all right here.

This is a nightmare waiting to happen. And I don’t know what NYRR thinks they’re accomplishing – other than losing members and a desire to participate in the marathon. I’m not running it this year and was not doing any planning to run it next year. And now even renewing my NYRR membership isn’t going to happen. They are just indicating more and more how they really don’t care about the runners – especially the back of the pack runners like me.

Just a few issues that immediately come to mind here…

1) Not everyone has friends and family who can travel to watch them run and therefore not everyone will have friends and family there in the reunion area waiting with dry clothes to change into. When I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon (a race that still has baggage claim and handles it EXTREMELY well I might add), I didn’t use baggage claim because my parents and sister were there. I also made the mistake of not leaving dry clothes with them. I only had about a 10 minute ride back to my resort (maybe less), and I was miserable. And it was in the upper 70s or low 80s at that point. I cannot imagine riding the subway – running on a slower and less frequent weekend schedule – or somehow magicking a taxi cab in wet clothes in November, when it’s usually pretty chilly. Oh, and that brings me to…

2) You’re going to need money and/or a metrocard to get back home or to your hotel. While many of us do run with some kind of belt or arm band, not everyone does. NYRR is now telling runners – in some cases sub-elite runners, some of whom ran in or qualified for the Olympic trials – who run without belts or arm bands “Sorry. If you want to have money or stuff with you, you have to carry it.” And again, not everyone has people coming to watch them run who can hold all their stuff.

3) And then there is the whole reunion thing. They say they’re going to have “call home stations”? If those are run even slightly by the same people who do their runner tracking, that’s going to be an epic fail. And how will those stations make getting through on busy circuits any easier? People who do run with their cell phones will still be trying to call family/friends and will still tie up all the circuits.

4) Pre-race, backpacks and other bags aren’t allowed. So if you need stuff before the race, you better be able to fit it all in the belt, arm band, or wrist band that you may or may not want to deal with. And you better be prepared to either dump and donate or carry with you any warm clothing. Oh, unless they work out the deal with UPS so that you can ship a limited amount home and get it in a week or so. Um, pre-race nutrition is a must, and as long as some people will be there at the start, many will be doing their pre-race fueling at the starting village. I smell another way for NYRR to profit from this – Oh, you couldn’t bring your pre-race meal? We’ve got food available. For sale.

5) Need medication? Better hope you won’t need it during the race AND that the medical people have it super-organized at the end. Granted, if you’re used to carrying an inhaler, you’ll already by doing that. But there are some medications that you may need on a just-in-case basis that you may not usually carry with you, especially if you have support on training runs or your training runs are on a loop. And there’s no guarantee that your medical condition that needs the medication will only happen at the start and finish.

Are we getting a sense of just how bad of an idea this is yet??

Now, was their system before perfect? As I understand it, no. And there are people – speedsters who never carry anything anyway, who like the idea. But overall this is a bad decision for the majority of the runners who will be participating. I refuse to believe that they couldn’t have an early exit from the park for those runners who don’t have baggage and keep the baggage generally as it was for those who do.

Let’s see… As I mentioned, runDisney has baggage services at their events (granted, it doesn’t move, but there is still massive organization and the need for a very organized volunteer squad), and it’s very well run. I did use it my first half marathon with them and it couldn’t have been easier or more organized. Rock and Roll has baggage check at their events, and sure at the NYC 10K it was a shitshow, but they had it. I understand from friends that the Marine Corps Marathon has is and it’s very well run. From all I’m reading the Bank of America Chicago Marathon has it and it works very well. These are just a few examples. Basically PLENTY of other races have baggage services and there are no problems. I don’t see how NYRR is accomplishing anything by eliminating it.

I’d say they’d better hope for a warm and dry weekend (I didn’t even go into what if it’s raining – which will automatically canse the body temperature to drop even faster once the runners stop), but as I said before, it was warm to hot and dry at Disney in January and I was miserable by the time 10 or so minutes passed to get me back to my resort.

I feel for all those running the NYC Marathon this year. You have my sincere best wishes.

And I can safely say, NYRR, that I will NEVER sign up to run your marathon and I will NOT be renewing my membership with an organization that clearly cares so little for the members who support it or the well-being of all runners. You’ve proven that you don’t care about back of the packers, and this just cements it.

I’m begging other race organizations not to be this stupid and uncaring. Thank you!


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