Best "sums-it-up" Tweet from @LizWeil:
"Between the marathoners helping on Staten Island and those running anyway in Central Park, canceled race turned into something beautiful."
As you may know, Sally, Kate Grace and I were in the city for the New York City Marathon. Below is my recount of the weekend. If you'd like, skip to the end to find resources for how we can help Hurricane Sandy victims.
We watched Sandy from nearly 3,000 miles away in disbelief. The destruction she left in her wake was unprecedented, it was staggering, and our hearts hurt for New York and New Jersey. How fragile the city looked.
The next days were filled with the question, “is the marathon on?” Team Every Mother Counts remained positive as Mary Wittenberg assured us that the marathon would not go on “if it were to inhibit the restoration and recovery operation. The event will only go on if it in fact seems to further the city’s recovery effort." Major Bloomberg backed her up, saying that much of New York depended on the money brought in from the event. It will go on.
So we went on. On Friday morning, in the dark of 4:30am, we left for SeaTac. We boarded the plane with a feeling of uncertainty. Both of what we’d be arriving to and how we felt about it. As outsiders to the NY region, we wanted to be respectful and empathetic, and with the mixed messages around the marathon and the anger building towards anyone with the ‘gall’ to still run it… it was feeling odd.
No more than two hours after our silver bird touched down at JFK, we heard the news. The marathon was cancelled. In fact, we were meeting up with what was left of the 20+ runners in the Oiselle group (now down to 5). Just as Sally finished saying, “Well, at least the marathon is still on”, Lisa Alcorn cut her a look, “Um, you haven’t heard? It’s off.”
Sure enough, we turned to the screens above the bar where the headline declared: Marathon Cancelled. Footage of a man disassembling marathon barriers looped over and over as the pronouncement stood. The one reason we were there was gone.
In the face of what the women around the table were going through, in the face of Sandy’s great wrath, in the face of the families who’d lost the ones they loved, in the face of business and lively hood strewn across the shore… it was minimal. But it was also a shred of light in darkness and it was gone.
What came next, you already know. The marathon was cancelled because of anger, and confusion. And you could see all of that on display on Twitter, Facebook and blogs. Runners were dubbed as selfish, pathetic and self-serving. There was outrage and disgust that we would consider running.
But on Sunday we woke to run anyway. We met our team, who over the past months had worked together to raise funds for a cause we believed in. We ran to respect and honor the donations people had given, and to honor those who believed that a marathon wasn’t a selfish act. That a marathon could be more than footsteps, it could be humanity coming together for a greater good.
We rounded the corner into the park…to magic.
People with their bibs on circled the park 4x to make the 26.2. They wore their charity singlets, tee shirts for lost loved ones, their faces determined and focused on this way to lift others up. There were so many languages, so many smiles I passed. All this energy of the marathon. People lined the park road, with Smarties, Gummy Bears, pretzels, water… whatever they had to give to the runners. They held signs, “Go Mommy!” “You Got This" "I thought they said 2.62"
It felt like Whoville after all their tinsel, trees and presents were gone their voices rose anyway. Strong and clear and joyful. Because the marathon comes anyway, without bibs, or timers, or powergel, or a generator… because maybe the marathon means just a little bit more.
Relief Efforts Marathon Weekend
Despite what was reported, many runners devoted what would have been their race weekend to relief efforts. They ran supplies along the route. They helped clean up Staten Island. There was even a Volunteerathon on Sunday.
How Oiselle is Helping
Oiselle will be donating 100 fleece jackets that are “factory seconds,” but which are still 100% perfect for warmth and protection. We will be sending them to our runner in the New York/New Jersey area, Kate Grace, who will donate them to the Jersey Cares Coat Drive.
How You Can Help
What we continually heard while in NYC is what communities need now is ongoing support, the clean up is wrapping up and as the cold and snow have arrived they need shelter, financial aid.
We were, in fact, turned away from several cleanups because they had too many volunteers. Often it’s best to donate money and goods and let those trained specifically for relief efforts like this to distribute it. This site has a great list of organizations to volunteer with or donate to: www.nycservice.org/
Also if you are in NYC area: give blood! It’s a tangible way to give, and it’s very needed.
If you are local NJ here is a great list of drop-off donation centers and what they need.