SBD/August 24, 2012/Events and Attractions

N.Y. Marathon Eliminates Bag Drop, Angering Participants

NYRR officials said the new policy would alleviate finish-line area congestion
The N.Y. Road Runners (NYRR) on Thursday “informed the 47,438 registrants for this year’s ING New York City Marathon that it would not truck runners’ bags from the start of the race on Staten Island to the finish line in Central Park,” according to Wayne Coffey of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The new policy -- which NYRR officials “say will greatly alleviate finish-line area congestion and expedite the time it takes for runners to exit the Park -- went over like a lead singlet in some running precincts.” NYRR PR Dir Richard Finn said that the decision “to get out of the trucking business -- a convoy of 76 UPS trucks, each carrying between 600 and 650 runners’ bags -- was motivated solely by an effort to address persistent negative feedback about the length of time -- often more than an hour -- it takes to get out of the Park.” Finn said, “We are doing this to enhance the entire day, and make for the best possible experience for all runners.” Some critics of the new policy “seemed to think it was driven by the bottom line, but Finn said that was completely untrue.” With UPS “donating the trucking service, the transporting of runners’ bags amounted to a negligible cost.” Finn said that the “new, fleece-lined finish-line ponchos that will be distributed is costing NYRR ‘in the mid six figures,’ and that call stations would be set up for runners to easily reach friends and family.” He also said that runners would “continue to get the popular foil blankets, and that any runners who needed such medically necessary equipment as inhalers could arrange for the equipment to be transported to the finish line through the race’s medical director.” Finn was asked if a “torrent of adverse reaction would cause the NYRR to back off the change.” Finn: “This is the policy for 2012. I didn’t say it was the policy for 2013" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/24). NYRR President & CEO Mary Wittenberg said that the decision to eliminate the bag drop was “about space, not money.” In N.Y., Ken Belson notes NYRR will “spend about $500,000 as a result of the change, mostly to pay for the new water-repellent ponchos.” Still, “hundreds of runners took to online forums to voice their displeasure,” and many “signed a petition calling on the organizers to reverse their decision” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/24). Also in N.Y., Adrianne Pasquarelli noted such a policy is “a first for a major marathon” (CRAINSNEWYORK.com, 8/23).
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