An anonymous person claiming to be a New York City Marathon worker who represents “a handful” of other race staffers has distributed a letter asking for the event to be cancelled in light of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. In the letter, which was given to David Segal of the Long Island Progressive Coalition in the hopes they would distribute it, the author says the New York Road Runners club, which hosts the race, is sitting on a vast amount of supplies that could be used to help aid storm victims. The letter also claims police and first responders will be “pulled away from their jobs to staff the marathon.”
“Who could provide more assistance in this time of need than an organization like the New York Road Runners, who, in preparing for the marathon have amassed tens of thousands of bottles of water, apples, bags of nuts, pounds of pasta, medical blankets, and ponchos. Not to mention the scores of staff and volunteers, the trucks, the generators, etc,” the letter says. “Except for maybe the police and first responders who will be pulled away from their jobs to staff the marathon.”
Update (5:15 p.m.): NBC News is reporting the race will be cancelled.
Update (5:33 p.m.): And it’s confirmed, Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a statement announcing his decision to cancel the race.
The author of the letter, who said they wish to remain anonymous to protect their job, provided Mr. Segal with copies of internal documents that appear to be legitimate and a picture of their staff ID with their name and photo covered to prove they work for the race. They said they are being supported by several co-workers. This evidence was shown to Politicker though we have not been able to independently verify this author of the letter works for the race.
“I work for the New York City Marathon and have for the better part of a decade. I believe that the marathon should be cancelled,” the letter begins. “I originally started writing this on my own, but have since been supported by a handful of colleagues, and many more of my colleagues and support staff have privately confided their sentiment that the marathon should be cancelled. You can see it in their downtrodden faces and hear it in their back room grumblings.”
A growing number of local elected officials have asked for the race to be cancelled or postponed due to the storm. Reuters just reported city officials are meeting this evening to discuss whether to go on with the race.
However, thus far, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has remained steadfast in his position the marathon will not divert needed resources and will bring revenue and charitable donations to the city. In a press conference this afternoon, the mayor said the Road Runners Club has promised to make a $1 million donation to the relief effort and could give up to $2 million if the race goes on because runners who participate have been asked to contribute one dollar for each mile they run. In the letter, the author blasts Road Runners CEO Mary Wittenberg and the race sponsors asking why they’re not willing to make donations and cancel the race as well.
In the morning when I wake up, I fight my guilt at going to work, but know that I have to to pay the rent. I turn on the TV and there is our CEO, Mary Wittenberg touting the determination of the New York Road Runners and the 2 million dollars being donated to the relief effort on behalf of the marathon,” the letter says. “Are canceling the marathon and donating to the relief effort mutually exclusive? If the NYC Marathon were not run, would NYRR, ING and the Rudin family not donate to relief efforts? If so, they are not New Yorkers. They are not even human.”
The author of the letter also addressed the concerns of runners who have spend months preparing for the race.
“We are told to think of the runners, and the months that they spent training. Or the months of effort that we all put in to putting the marathon together,” the letter says. “What about the people in Staten Island, or Breezy Point, who spent a lifetime putting together a home for themselves and their families who now have nothing? What about those with dead and missing loved ones, friends, and neighbors? Don’t they deserve to be thought of? Isn’t the pain that they are feeling worse than the disappointment that will be felt by runners and staff if the marathon is cancelled?”
The letter concludes with the author saying they believe continuing with the race as planned is simply “wrong.”
“I feel bad writing this. I have seen friends and coworkers work incredibly hard this year and in years past to put this event together,” the letter says. “But for me, that is all gone. This is wrong. As an employee of New York Road Runners, a New Yorker, a runner, and a person I firmly believe that holding this race is wrong.”
We have reached out to New York Road Runners for comment, but they were not immediately available to comment.
Read the full text of the letter below: