Re: NYRR Club Council Meeting - January 10, 2005

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Posted by Glenn Ribotsky on January 20, 2005 at 13:57:42:

In Reply to: Re: NYRR Club Council Meeting - January 10, 2005 posted by Andy Burek on January 18, 2005 at 21:27:42:

The rumor about the half-marathon series being discontinued had been circulting for quite a while. Among the reasons given, and not necessarily by the Club, has been the reluctance of both the aging running population that fueled the first running boom and the younger runners with busy lives to train/run many longer races--with the exception of marathons which are now looked upon more as social occassions than as competitive ones; the trend towards shorter races in general among race organizers, who have found it much easier to administer such races (lack of savvy volunteers who'll work for many hours is a major issue) and populate them with novices as well as expereinced runners (very important from a sponsorhip standpoint), and the difficulty of getting venues for races (especially post 9/11--it's easier to run a 5K/5M in a park than get streets closed for a longer race, and, in NYRRC's case, there's much friction with groups that resent the Club's hogging the park so many weeks a year).

Nonetheless, little of this would mean anything if the Cub had not taken the position several years ago, in the early days of the Steinfeld era (it's doubtful this decision would have been as easily made by Fred LeBow) to first, minimize the influence of the hard-core, but not nationally competitive, racers, who tend to have very idiosyncratic needs/requests that meeting doesn't do much to enhance the Club's bottom line (and remember, despite the non-profit tag, the NYRRC is big business) and second, to look upon the Club's ultimate mission (as M. Wittenberg hints at in her letter) as promoting fitness among the widest possible family population. This latter means making the races/events as accessible to the novice, the back-of-the-packer, and the social runner as possible (with the ultimate goal being maximinzing participation in/publicity for the ultimate "party" event, the NYC marathon). It also means making any "serious" events really serious--and restticted--because that's what drives sponsorship and publicity. (The Women's 10K and the 8K Championships are nothing without the incentive-drawn national and international fields--that, and the Marathon, is where NYRRC wants to put its chips.)

I recognize the $ and sponsorship driven nature of the sport these days, and don't think widespread family/fun fitness is an unworthy goal. I do think that such trends, on balance, tend to squeeze the serious but non national-class runner from having as many opportunities to test him/herself, and these are the people who for the most part make up the local clubs.

One would hope that as the standard bearer for the sport (though I'd probably get an argument on that from certain clubs in Boston or Atlanta), the NYRRC would make a major effort to accomodate this serious running group as well as the great masses of the realtively slow. I do think it's obvious, though, since the passing of Fred and Kurt and Harry and Joe, that the Club's current administraton looks upon that cohort as an irritant at best, grumbling about the running world and its changes.

We will see if the Half-Marathon series survives beyond 2005.

This whole situation, of course, begs the question I and others brought up years ago--is the Club Council used mostly to let this group blow off steam and give the illusion that it has influence over Club policy as the NYRRC administrators do as they please, anyway?

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