Here on the NH Seacoast, I am lucky. Yesterday I went for a great late afternoon run by the ocean finishing right at sunset at Portsmouth’s Prescott Park. The warm fall weather and waterfront scenery were idyllic. Just the workout I needed. Lucky me.
After dinner, while working on a story about the endurance sport of Cyclocross, I flipped on the TV and to my horror saw stories about what the Seacoast residents of Staten Island have and are enduring after Hurricane Sandy. They were not so lucky.
So I won’t be blogging about Cyclocross or Seacoast fitness. Seems to me there are other seacoasts that aren’t so fit right now and we should be running TO them to help.
Seemingly forgotten by the Red Cross, FEMA and NYC officials, Staten Island was possibly the hardest-hit NYC borough when Hurricane Sandy barreled ashore. I watched Rock Center with Brian Williams Staten Island stories last night in disbelief. More than 80,000 Staten Island residents are still without power and most streets are impassable. Many residents are homeless, and at least 19 people died on Staten Island including two little boys and a grandmother who were dragged from their loved ones’ arms by the storm surge. Sure puts living by the seacoast in perspective.
Hardest hit by Sandy, countless Staten Island residents lost everything and these are their only HOMES, not their summer houses. Many neighborhoods were simply overwhelmed water. According to CBS News’ report “Staten Island victims: We’re being ignored,” residents described a super-sized wave as high as 20 feet… rushing like rapids. Grace Casio, a victim on Staten Island, said, “I have never witnessed what I saw Monday. Never witnessed. Never…” As you can understand, residents are outraged, claiming their community has been ignored in the days following Sandy while aid (and media attention) pours into other parts of New York and New Jersey.
But, inexplicably, it gets worse. NYC officials and Mayor Bloomberg are planning to go ahead with the 2012 NYC Marathon this Sunday one week after this tragic weather event. One guess where the marathon staging area is? Yup, Staten Island. And the race’s starting line? You guessed it, right on Staten Island’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
Staten Island resident Nicole Malliotakis told CBS News: “We are far from fine and the fact that the mayor wants to have a marathon this weekend when we have people who lost either their lives or lost their entire house. I mean, it’s unbelievable to me.” Help suffering residents survive or help a runner survive 26.2 miles? Seems like an easy call for a mayor.
Logically others are chiming in, and in an Examiner.com article by Ray Fauteux, “Go-ahead for 2012 New York City Marathon results in debate,” USA Today writer Christine Brennan is also clearly not in favor of holding the marathon on Sunday. In her article Brennan went on to say “… as millions in New York and New Jersey confronted an overwhelming number of troubles and tragedies brought on by the worst storm to ever hit the East Coast, New York’s leaders are shockingly, unbelievably, moving ahead with one of the most logistically challenging sporting events in the world.” She goes on to point out that the NYC Marathon normally draws two million spectators and requires 8,000 volunteers and hundreds of police officers.
As much as I like Christine Brennan’s writing and understand her opinion, after some reflection on this, respectfully I must disagree. The 2012 NYC Marathon MUST GO ON, ..with one slight adjustment.. According to those numbers, if you take an estimated 8,300 NYC police and volunteers and add in approx. 50,000 runners and another 700 or so event sponsor staffers – not counting the millions of spectators who may not be able to drive into the city – and you know what we have?
We have HELP for all those residents on Staten Island and in all NYC boroughs who have had their lives devastated by Hurricane Sandy! And we have lots and lots of HELP!! Let’s roll.
So here’s what we do on Sunday (Mayor B. are you listening?)… Continue as planned and get everyone ready to start the 2012 NYC Marathon on Staten Island, welcoming the visitors and runners to NYC. Then we take this massive humanitarian force of 50,000-60,000 people to the starting line on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and HAVE EVERYONE TURN AROUND AND RUN ONTO STATEN ISLAND (not off) to help those suffering and starving residents! Afterwards, this mobilized 2012 NYC Humanitarian Marathon force can roll on into Manhattan and then to Queens and the other boroughs to do more good. That’s a race worth running.
Hey, think about it. These 50,000 able-bodied and very fit NYC Marathon runners and volunteers – never mind the sponsors ING, Gatorade, Poland Spring, Power Bar, et al. – have plenty of water, sneakers, clothing, marathon blankets, goodie bags, food, snacks, you name it! Now, we could either HELP SAVE LIVES on Staten Island this Sunday, or save shin splints.
We are all very lucky to be able to enjoy a run along the coast. For the 50,000 NYC Marathon Runners, Staten Island needs your help more than you need to run by their storm-ravaged coast. You will live to race another day.
So, at the starting line this Sunday, please TURN AROUND, you are running the wrong way!