TrackCenter Top Ten: The NYC Marathon Will Go On

I’ve gotten away from the top ten late-afternoon news links thing but need to start it up again.

The decision to go ahead with the New York City Marathon on Sunday in the wake of tremendous damage to the city and region and its inhabitants has generated a lot of opposition. This is one of those things where I can see both sides of the issue.

The downsides to going through with the race are many and obvious, the biggest two of which are the difficulties in getting the runners out to the Staten Island starting area, and the need for police and other city employees to not be tied up with the race on Sunday morning. The major upside, as noted by Mayor Bloomberg, is the significant economic impact of the race–which becomes even more important to mid-to-small businesses since the storm already impacted their bottom line.

I’ve heard suggestions that the NYC Marathon be postponed. I don’t think that’s really feasible, either for the masses or for the elites. The rank-and-file citizen runners who travel to New York for this race simply cannot rearrange their work and travel schedules on such short notice, and the professionals have been targeting their training towards this date for months. No, it’s either this Sunday or not at all.

And when looking at opposition to holding the race, we must realize that an awful lot of New Yorkers probably never liked the marathon and have always wanted it to go away. It’s a big pain in the neck for the neighborhoods it goes through, and while it’s a point of pride and an annual celebration for many in those communities, let’s just say that the character of Oscar the Grouch didn’t pop up next to a Brooklyn brownstone out of thin air.

From the perspective of the track and field community, it is essential that the New York City Marathon take place. It’s hard to overstate this. No other annual domestic road/track/cross event gets anywhere near the media exposure and attention as the NYC Marathon does, and this year’s race is getting even more than usual.

This is because ESPN2 is doing a live broadcast. More importantly, ESPN actually paid to broadcast it, and that means the NYC Marathon gets the full ESPN treatment. Look at the weekend listings on ESPN Classic and you’ll understand what I mean: Friday night through Saturday morning, track and road running has taken over the channel. I imagine the race will get some highly-prized SportsCenter love too, both before and after.

In terms of taking bad and making it good, creator Ann Gaffigan had a very good idea. Staten Island’s inhabitants are the most in need of help in the wake of the storm, and busses will be taking tens of thousands of runners there on Sunday morning. There should be collection barrels for food, water, clothing, and other needed items. If each of the thirty to forty thousand expected runners each brings a bag of donations, that adds up very quickly.

Top Ten News Links

All NYC Marathon news…

Let’s Run rates Meb Keflezighi’s chances, along with the next ten best U.S. men. Aside from Ryan Hall (who was slated to run but withdrew two months ago) and Dathan Ritzenhein, pretty much all the top Americans are here.

Flotrack does the NYC Marathon by the numbers, and Track and Field News has all the NYC Mararathon stats.

From The Trailer: Brett Gotcher’s First and Next and the hard-boiled Jon Gugala’s New York City, Thursday.

The Tokyo Marathon has been added to the World Marathon Majors, making it the sixth race in the circuit. Maybe it will eventually return to the idea that predated the WMM series, which was a worldwide 14-race championship circuit, with bonus points earned for fast times and deep fields. It never got off the ground because many of the races balked at being included.

It sounds like the Mammoth Track Club is undergoing massive changes. Meb Keflezighi is leaving it to return to his native San Diego, head coach Terrence Mahon has been hired away overseas by UK Athletics, and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor is taking over.

Other news packages:
Runner’s World’s Morning Report
Track and Field News home page
Let’s Run’s home page

Track on TV

Friday, 10:00pm, ESPN Classic: Run For Your Life
Blending archival and contemporary footage with recollections from past champions, recreational participants, volunteers and local politicians, this documentary looks at the life and passion of Fred Lebow, founder of the New York City Marathon. From extremely humble beginnings — in 1970, less than 100 people participated in the inaugural 26.2 mile race through the five boroughs — the race evolves into a global happening, drawing competitors and spectators from all over the world.
reruns Saturday at midnight

Saturday, 3:00am , ESPN Classic: The First Four Minutes
The life of Roger Bannister, and the breaking of the four minute mile, are chronicled.
Reruns at 5:30pm

Saturday, 4:00am, ESPN Classic: The Barrier Breakers
Roger Bannister’s sub-four-minute mile; Edmund Hilary’s ascent of Mount Everest; Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel.

Saturday, 5:00am, ESPN Classic: Into The Wind
Filmmakers Steve Nash and Ezra Holland chronicle the story of 21-year-old Terry Fox who in 1980, three years after losing his right leg to cancer, set out to run across Canada to increase awareness and raise funds for cancer research.
Reruns at 4:30pm

Saturday, 8:00am, ESPN Classic: Running the Sahara
Filmmakers follow three men as they run across the Sahara Desert, a journey of 111 days and more than 4,300 miles of challenging terrain.

Saturday, 11:00am, ESPN Classic: SEC Storied: Lolo Jones
Lolo Jones’ story goes beyond the track and field community and consists of heartbreak, adversity and hope.

Saturday, 2:00pm, ESPN Classic: 9.79*
The men’s 100-meter final at the Seoul Summer Olympic Games was riddled in scandal. This one race still haunts the eight athletes who took part.

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