Week #16: NYC Marathon – Taking Responsibility

After a few weeks of contemplation and multiple drafts as well as the idea of not posting a Week #16 since the 2012 NYC Marathon was never run, I have settled on the following as my Week #16 post to conclude my NYC Marathon No Sleep Till Central Park series.

Early on in my professional career as an Equity Research analyst I learned that your biggest opportunities often come when you fail. I know that seems counterintuitive. When you work on Wall Street in Equity Research it is expected that your buy rated stocks go up in price and you sells go down. When the opposite happens it is a fail. And when you fail, more eyes are on you than when you succeed. When you fail everyone wants to know “What are you going to do now?” This creates the opportunity. The opportunity to show what you are made of and take responsibility for your mistake.

I found some success on the Street by having a few stocks blow up on me. When this happened my phone rang off the hook.  I had two choices…answer the phone or let it go to voicemail.  I answered. I knew my investment call was wrong but now investors wanted to know what my next call was going to be. So I told them, I was not going to run and hide. I admitted my mistake and I moved forward. I did this because I felt bad that I was wrong and that my investment recommendation cost someone money. I moved forward because I wanted to try to make it right. This gave me a tremendous amount of credibility and earned me a lot of respect.

It also taught me that it is easy to be a nice person, act professionally and “do the right thing” when things are going your way. It is much harder to be this person when something goes wrong or you just screwed up. I am a firm believer that people’s true colors shine through in negative situations. Let’s be real, it is much harder to help someone else out when you are in a bad spot.

Unfortunately, NYRR’s true colors have come through with the cancellation of the 2012 NYC Marathon. We are three weeks post the cancellation and we have yet to hear any sort of official word from NYRR, other than the lame “please stand-by” messages posted on Facebook.  I understand Super Storm Sandy was not their fault. I understand the “fine print” states they don’t have to refund race entry fees. But what I don’t understand is why NYRR chose the run and hide policy. Their lack of visibility is impossible to respect and entirely disrespectful to runners worldwide. If I chose the run and hide policy on Wall Street I never would have survived.

The lack of communication post cancellation is not the only failure by NYRR.  The first failure is the timing of the cancellation. There was no new information available to Bloomberg or to NYRR or Mary Wittenberg on November 2, when the race was cancelled, than there was on October 30, when they announced the race was on and rebranded it as “The Race to Recover”. The universal sign of a bad leader is someone who changes their mind when no new information is available. Clearly, neither Bloomberg nor NYRR had the capacity to adequately research the situation or understand the research that was done when they made the initial decision to run the race.  There is no excuse for poor leadership and there is absolutely no excuse for dodging responsiblity for your actions.

This is what NYRR is doing…dodging responsibility. They have taken no responsibility for misleading runners and causing ten of thousands of runners to travel to NYC and incur unnecessary travel expenses. They have taken no responsibility in upsetting numerous NYCers who needed help and were shocked the race was not being cancelled.  NYRR’s silence is stunning.

As a runner who traveled to NYC to run the 2012 NYC Marathon, who was at the Expo when I found out via a text from a friend that the race was cancelled, I have never felt more disrespected by a race.  To be honest, I have a very hard time envisioning myself ever running the NYC Marathon again. This deeply saddens me because I was raised on Long Island and used to live in Manhattan. NYC was my favorite marathon. I am so disgusted with NYRR, I am having a hard time supporting anything they do. My hope is that NYRR does the right thing and takes responsibility for their actions. My hope is that NYRR finds new leadership and returns to its roots as a true charity. My hope is that NYRR realizes it needs the runners more than we need them.

NYC will rebuild. Maybe one day NYRR will rebuild, with new leadership and a clear vision, and I will once again be able to support them. Until then I will take my running shoes to another city.

Thanks for following.


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