SBD/November 7, 2012/Events and Attractions

NYRR, Wittenberg Cope With Public Backlash After Marathon Cancellation

NYRR Chair said that Wittenberg has his unequivocal support
After the cancellation of the ING N.Y. Marathon, the “broader challenge” for N.Y. Road Runners and President & CEO Mary Wittenberg will be “how to recover from the weeklong debacle,” according to Belson & Pilon of the N.Y. TIMES. NYRR Chair George Hirsch and NYRR board member Doug Feltman, said that the organization was “still figuring out what impact the cancellation would have on its bottom line.” But they were “confident the organization’s cancellation insurance and the millions of dollars it had in reserve would provide a buffer.” Hirsch and Feltman said that the “high demand to run the marathon, especially among foreign runners, would continue unabated.” But NYRR will have to “talk to sponsors and television broadcasters who did not receive what they were promised this year.” Some runners also are “demanding a refund of their entry fees, which were as high as $347.” Runners have been “guaranteed a spot in next year’s race, but it is unclear how, say, runners who entered by raising thousands of dollars for charities will be handled.” Wittenberg and other NYRR execs will “meet over the next few weeks to work out the details.” The organization is “reluctant to use any money devoted to its youth programs” for refunds, because board members said that “encouraging children to run is one of its missions ... and Road Runners will not bankrupt itself to regain the trust of runners.” While NYRR will “monitor social media and their members to measure how much its reputation has been damaged, it might not get the fuller picture until it sees the impact on enrollment in some of its shorter races.” Despite “hostility toward Wittenberg” for her handling of the storm crisis, she is “unlikely to be ousted.” She “spent years helping the organization grow and has no presumed replacement.” Hirsch said, “Mary has the 100 percent support of me and the board” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/7).

LEAN ON YOUR BROTHER: The AP reported organizers of the Philadelphia Marathon have “opened 3,000 slots for runners who missed out in the more famous marathon across the five boroughs.” Competitors who were registered for the N.Y. Marathon “can enter a lottery to register for the sold-out Nov. 18 race in Philadelphia.” Entries “will be accepted" until 5:00pm ET tomorrow. A computer will then "randomly select as many as 3,000 people” (AP, 11/6).
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