NYC marathon sends right message

Tuesday November 6, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Road Runners Club, who were working together to orchestrate the ING NYC Marathon ("A race like none other"), decided that this was a moment like none other and it needed bold and courageous leadership like none other. Together, they made a decision that was not about runners who had trained for a year for this event, or about the revenue that the marathon brings to the city. It was about the people in Staten Island and other parts of the New York City area who were reeling from the trauma of Hurricane Sandy.

Forty two years ago, Fred Lebow began the NYC marathon, sacrificing a career in a different direction, wanting to make the marathon a "people’s marathon." The simple fact that people matter was at the core of his heart and the passion of his running. That is what made the NYC Marathon into a "race like none other."

In 1992 Grete Waitz and Fred ran the NYC Marathon. She sacrificed a potential unprecedented 10th NYC Marathon win to run with her friend out of care and compassion. I had the privilege of joining them for a stretch in Central Park. Fred was in pain, but he was inspired to finish by the care and compassion of fellow marathoners. Like me and like Grete, they were pushing him to the finish line by the sheer force of their will.

Sacrifice is at the heart of the marathon runner and it is what this 2012 decision required. So this year the New York City Marathon says loud and clear to the world that there are times that all agendas can be sacrificed.

This year the discipline and dedication of runners who have come to NYC gives way to caring for the people of NYC. Compassion trumps competition.

That is a message like none other for the world to hear. How fitting from the "race like no other."


West Stockbridge

The writer is an ordained minister and chaplain to the NYC Marathon.


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