Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter made headlines over the weekend when reports came to light that he’d offered to host the New York City Marathon here in Philly. The race was officially canceled on Friday evening, after major public outcry (and, quite frankly, lots of bad PR) over hosting the race in post-Sandy New York pushed officials there to change course. In an interview with Runner’s World posted Saturday evening, chairman of the New York Road Runners (the group responsible for putting on the NYC Marathon) George Hirsch said, “The Philadelphia mayor, Mayor Nutter, contacted us to say Philadelphia was ready to put on a marathon for all 40,000 of our runners tomorrow morning if we could get them here. Of course, there just wasn’t enough time for that. But he sounded very sincere. We know they have their marathon in two weeks.” Philly.com picked up the story yesterday and confirmed it with Mayor Nutter’s team.
It was certainly a nice gesture—many of the commenters on the Philly.com story and an impromptu Runner’s World message board seem to agree. As neighboring cities, we should have each other’s backs in times of crisis, pitching in where we can. And since a lot of runners had traveled a long way to participate in the race (not to mention, spent months training for it), it would have been nice to offer a place for them to run the race. The surprise economic boost of bringing 40,000 people to Philly might have been nice, too.
But (there’s always a “but,” right?) if New York had taken Mayor Nutter up on his offer, I’m curious to know exactly how we would have pulled off an enormous race—one as big as Broad Street last year, and with a much less straight forward route, no doubt—in 24 hours. There were already several big events long on the books for yesterday, including the Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge 10K, which shut down the Ben Franklin Bridge; the Race for Hope 5K at the Art Museum; and the American Heart Association Heart Walk down at Citizens Bank Park. That doesn’t leave much space to run a 26.2-mile race within the city limits. And there are the other logistics, too, like water stations, chip-timing technology, AV equipment–even Porta Potties. Where would we have gotten all this stuff with such little lead time?
Sure, we have some of it here already, I’m assuming, since the Philadelphia Marathon is less than two weeks off. And some of the necessary materials could have been shipped down from New York, of course. But there’s a reason race organizers start planning for these things a year in advance: They are logistically challenging, with lots of moving parts to attend to. Besides, if we used resources set aside for our own marathon to put on New York’s, would our runners get screwed in the process?
What do you think? Would it have been feasible to pull off an impromptu marathon in a matter of hours? And where might we have hosted it, anyway? Would you have chipped in to help? Share your thoughts in the comments.