Thursday, August 23, 2012

No-Baggage Policy at NYC Marathon? No Joke.

OK, admittedly, I'm on vacation, and it's taking the coffee a little while to kick in, but just stumbled across this, which is already making waves across the NYC running community.  This for the 2012 NYC Marathon.

For 2012, under a new policy designed to ease finish-line congestion, runners will no longer check baggage at the start of the race, and there will be no baggage retrieval after the finish.
Our primary objective is to provide our runners with the safest and best possible race-day experience. We have received overwhelming feedback from our runners about the need to address the issue of post-race congestion and waiting time to exit Central Park. In response, and in close consultation with New York City agencies, the new No-Baggage Policy was developed over several years to provide a better and safer post-finish experience.
In order to minimize inconvenience to our runners, NYRR has invested in a number of enhancements, including:
  • The Marathon Finish Line Poncho, a water-repellent, hooded, and fleece-lined garment to be handed out to every finisher
  • Establishing NYRR "Call Home" stations at the start and post-finish so runners can communicate with friends and family
  • A new and improved Family Reunion area near the runner exit
  • Increasing the number of wave starts from three to four to reduce runner density along the course and at the finish line.

The ostensible reason is to ease post-race congestion in Central Park. But ... you've got to be kidding me.

*If you're traveling from out of town, now you're going to bring clothes specifically to throw away at the start of the race
*And you have to have clothes - Staten Island can be cold/rainy and you're sitting around for hours already
*What about those of us who like a little music to pre-psych up your running muscles? Now you have run with it.
*Umm, was the weekend before last year's race that NYC was hit by a freak snowstorm?
*Keys? Train passes? Money?

The Facebook posts are hilarious at this point (and mostly bitter), though there are a few supporters:

One of the worst ideas ever. A lot of the runners doesn't came from Manhattan and they have to return without opportunity to change shoes or clothes. 

RIDICULOUS! I am supposed to finish 26.2 then get on the train back to Jersey freezing my butt off? This is what I waited 3 years for?

LOL nyrr, LOL. I try and give constructive feedback to your common mistakes but this time I just can't. I am SO glad I'm not running this year and this seriously makes me wonder if I ever will again.

Buy stock in the company that makes Spibelt now!

Also, just from a business standpoint, the time to tell us about decreased services is BEFORE 45,000 people have paid their non-refundable entry fee of nearly $200.

(BTW, note that there are now four wave starts - that may have already been in place).

The full post is here:


Katie Duffy said...

I wonder if it will even help? 4 waves sounds smart, but the lack of baggage is crazy. Personally when I ran it I didn't use the bag check (I just had my family keep a little bag with them with sweats for post-race) but the congestion seemed to be much less a matter of people getting their stuff than of thousands of people trying to smash through a narrow park path on depleted, creaky legs. I think there's such a thing as making the race too big... way too big. And for $200+, I want to be able to stash the stuff I brought to get me through the 2 - 3 hour wait in the cold in Staten Island.

Aleja said...

Hi!! First I do apologize for my English (is not my language). But I hope you understand how much I’m upset for this “new no baggage policy”! I’m on the of the thousand foreigners that every year run this marathon. I will arrive from Europe only for this event. As you can imagine there will be no friends or family that can assist me at the end of the race. So what should I do??? Should I run with a bag where I carry money, passport, hotel card, ticket for the public transportation etc…?? And after the race?? Should I walk around New York all sweaty with shorts and a poncho?? And what about if, for any reason, in my way back to the hotel, police stops me (and seeing a woman in her forties dressed like that it could be possible) and ask for my ID?? Should I give them my bib??
I believe they took this decision only to make more money!! Not to avoid the congestion after the race!!

Chicken Underwear said...

This works fine for me but the NYRR REALLY should have made this announcement before people committed to running

DebbieJRT said...

Over the last few years I've decided that NYRR has no idea who is running their races. I've spent time trying to get instructions to get to the start of a non-Central Park race that didn't involve coming from Manhattan. (I live in eastern Queens). I used to volunteer every year for the Marathon, but have stopped since I feel that my help was not appreciated. The races have gotten too large and the organization seems only concerned with getting new customers and not with retaining their old customers. Because, ultimately, it is a business, and I understand that, but a lot of their decisions don't seem to make any business sense, either. This year I've finally decided to let my membership lapse.

Brian T. O'Connor said...

This is the most absurd thing I can possibly imagine. I had no other option but to email Mary and Peter Ciaccia directly to express my discontent.

Feel free to do the same:

M. Wittenberg -
P. Ciaccia -

And in case you're curious, here's the open letter I sent to both of them:

David said...

I was sure it was an outdated April Fool's joke at first. I like how news of the 4th wave was buried in that email.