BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- It’s hard to recall the context of any sporting event changing as quickly and dramatically as that surrounding this year’s New York City Marathon. Even as the city’s other sports ground back to life -- the Knicks on Friday, the Nets on Saturday, the Giants on Sunday -- the five-borough race was different, a contortion for the city under the best of times, albeit a pleasant and lucrative one.
Usually a collection of tales of endurance, strength and the triumph of the human spirit and of New York City, following on the heels of Hurricane Sandy the race suddenly threatened to become about waste and entitlement. Before it was canceled on Friday, the runners, whose exhaustive training would have brought many millions of dollars to the city ($340 million last year, says the New York Road Runners) and to charity, were on the verge of being painted as greedy carpetbaggers, flying into town to steal electricity and clean water from the needy.
That, of course, was not what any of these athletes intended, which is why it’s fortunate that the race was scrapped, albeit a few days too late to protect the marathoners from the ire of a hurting, generally pissed-off city.