Sunday, December 9, 2012

Did The NYRR Go Back On Its Promise To Guarantee Marathon Entry For Canceled 2012 Runners?

12812_marathon.jpgDid The NYRR Go Back On Its Promise To Guarantee Marathon Entry For Canceled 2012 Runners?: Gothamist

Jessica Lehrman / Gothamist
One month after the New York Road Runners riled everybody up by blaming the media for the 2012 marathon's cancellation—you know, the one that was to be held less than a week after Sandy ravaged the city—it looks like they're at it again: it now seems it is completely unclear whether 2012's registered runners are guaranteed a slot in next year's race as promised.
When Mayor Bloomberg finally canceled the marathon one day before it was intended to be held, NYRR director Mary Wittenberg announced that runners signed up would be "guaranteed entry for the marathon, or, if they prefer, the New York City half." But according to the organization's Facebook page, runners registered for the 2012 marathon will receive an extra credit towards the requirements for guaranteed entry to the marathon. Those requirements are part of something called the 9+1 Program, which says NYRR-registered runners have to complete nine NYRR races and volunteer at one race in order to get a spot to the highly-competitive race without going through a lottery.
The extra credit helps bump up runners who were just shy of making 9+1 requirements, but as for getting a spot for all registered 2012 runners, many of whom paid as high as a $347 entrance fee, the NYRR says that "[d]ecisions related to any other issues or questions are still pending," so it seems like so much for that guarantee! And for the record, the organization still seems to be sticking by its no refund policy.
Unsurprisingly, many runners were frustrated with the organization's apparent turn-around, and the NYRR's Facebook page is flooded with comments and requests for clarification. "It's a little confusing to me that somehow, now, we're whistling a different tune," runner Mark Schneider told NBC News. "It's a bit of a blow. They need to be a little more responsible and consistent in their message to people."
Wittenberg's taken a lot of heat for her handling of the marathon cancellation, with many even calling for her resignation. The costs of the canceled marathon have been huge, and the NYRR is currently locked in battle with its insurance company over claims, which may explain why they've yet to reach a definitive answer on fees and guarantees. But the runners, including those who supported the cancellation, feel let down, and a commenter on the NYRR's Facebook page summed up the whole fiasco best: "The NYRR has changed from a wonderfully run grassroots organization into a cash cow. I miss my old running club, but it's gone and it is not coming back."