Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oh Really?: New York City Marathon Eliminates Bag Drop

So, NYRR decided to eliminate bag check at this year's New York City Marathon.

From NYT:
The New York Road Runners, the club that organizes the race, said the new policy was designed to reduce the bottleneck at the end of the race, when tens of thousands of runners are forced to walk around the park and adjoining streets in search of the trucks carrying bags containing their sweat pants, cellphones and wallets. 

To eliminate what the Road Runners called “overwhelmingly the No. 1 complaint of our runners for years,” the bag drop was scrapped. Runners will now be given a wrap and a fleece-lined poncho to keep warm. Kiosks will also be set up so that runners can call family and friends, who presumably will be able to bring them other items.
If this wasn't a marathon, I could see eliminating a bag check.  But, for such a taxing event, I think it's reasonable to want to have access to whatever items you've made part of your post-race routine.  (Changing socks after some races has felt absolutely amazing!) 

I think it's great that NYRR will provide runners with something warm (as much as I love the shiny heat sheets race organizers distribute after marathons), but I imagine that the kiosks will be just as much of a disaster than whatever bottleneck is created at bag check. 

(Also, NYRR, you've been doing this for a while.  Don't you have your system streamlined by now?)

But, what else can you do?  I've thought about - gasp! - capping the number of allowable registrants. It's great that marathon running has gained popularity and that so many people want to do the big races (Boston, New York, Marine Corps) but at some point, you have to cap registration at these larger events in favor of logistics.  Granted, yes, I will be among the first people to fret about qualifying standards (my 4:39 PR certainly wouldn't cut it) but it ultimately improves race conditions and logistics, why not?

Although, now that NYRR isn't providing the service, I think this is a great opportunity for an enterprising person to make a few dollars by schlepping bags across boroughs.

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