An Open Letter to New York Road Runners

2 Apr

I wrote this letter last week after a discussion about race fees with two of my running friends at the bar in which I work.  One of those running friends, it just so happens, is also a blogging friend  — Grilled PB&J — and has also written a letter which can be read here.  For a little reference for those of you who don’t run, or who run and don’t race, or who run and race and don’t live in New York, the entry fee for the NYC Marathon this year is something like 240 bucks.  When I registered to run in 2006 it was decidedly not $240.  It was under $200…and I think under $150.  The details aren’t important really.  Just read the damn letter.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a person who needs time alone, time outside, and time outside alone.  In this city that can be hard to come by.  Luckily for me, I am a runner who lives close to Prospect Park.  Upwards of six days a week I lace up my running shoes, forgo my headphones, and run a mile, mostly uphill, to lope around the park.  Most days, I don’t take my running too seriously.  It’s just something I do to work off some of my extra energy, to get some much-needed space from the honking of cars and the buzzing of my cell phone.  It’s a pleasure and a passion but not a conscious pursuit.  By virtue of sheer repetition, I have gotten faster.  I’ve watched my mile times drop, first by seconds then by minutes, over the years.  I’ve arrived back home, red-faced and proud because I clocked a time that only a year before I never would have thought possible.  And all of this is for me, because I love to run.

In your Mission Statement it says, “it is our goal to give everyone on the planet both a reason to run and the means and opportunity to keep running and never stop.”  I must say that is a very respectable goal especially since the reason a lot of people start running in the first place, the reason I did anyway, is that it is a cheap sport.  All you need, really, is a pair of shoes and some old gym clothes and you’re on your way.  Of course you can always buy other, more fashionable and high-tech things:  GPS watches, quick dry clothing, training books.  I must admit, as a four-season outdoor runner, I have a rather extensive running wardrobe.  But the essentials, a pair of shoes and some open space, are accessible to most people.

I’m not quite sure how to proceed to the point here so let me tell you a story.  I have this friend, let’s call her Sammy.  Sammy is a very talented, very motivated runner.  She has a full-time job but somehow, by utilizing her lunch break, she manages to run 100-plus mile weeks.  She’s been working hard for a long time in hopes of making waves, in hopes of getting someone to notice her talent.  The thing is, she needs to run races to get noticed and the races, well, they’re too expensive.  She’s a unique girl with the same old story:  endless promise but crushing student loans, high tax rates, New York rent.  Her ticket out of her situation might very well be running.  The thing is, that for a sport so cheap the barrier to entry is just too high.  And she’s just one of many.  We might all not have the potential to win a race, but we certainly should have the opportunity to try and run one.  We gritted our teeth as you raised the price of the New York City Marathon, over and over again.  We understood when you said the costs of permits were increasing.  But, we ask, why are the prices of races in the park escalating as well?  I guess what I’m saying is that if you want to give everyone the “means and opportunity to keep running and never stop” then you need to reassess what you mean by everyone because right now, you are leaving a lot of us behind.

2 Responses to “An Open Letter to New York Road Runners”

  1. AV July 31, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    Right on. Races in Central Park in 2002 used to cost between $9 and $11. Same course, same shirt (albeit more creative shirts back then), same food at the end. Racing in the park on a weekend used to be one of my most favorite past times and now I am being priced out of it. Lets get something started!


  1. Goodbye, New York Road Runners | franklyrebekah - May 23, 2014

    […] I’m not going to go into all the problems I have with this organization, especially since I have talked about the intense price increases over the past few years on this blog before.  I just think that in an effort to ride the wave of popularity that running has been experiencing […]

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