Friday, November 30, 2012

Marathon Cancellation -- What's Next?

Okay, so they cancelled the NYC Marathon.  It was the right thing to do.  As a legal matter, they're probably entitled to take our money and not refund it.  I'm a contracts professor, excuse as a result of impossibility/force majeure, blah, blah, blah.  To the extent that folks relied on the statement on Tuesday that the marathon would be held, they might have some sort of a claim based on promissory estoppel.  Not me, though.  I did not change my travel plans.  I just slept in on Sunday morning.

Given their usual cancellation policy, I have generally assumed that they would give folks the option to get a refund, or to eat the registration fee and get a guaranteed entry into either the 2013 NYC Marathon or the 2013 NYC Half Marathon.  That way folks who had already qualified for the 2013 Marathon (by running 9 NYRR races) would still get something nice in return for their trouble.   Obviously, this would create some ripple effects.  Nobody would get into the Marathon by lottery next year, but they wouldn't lose much money, because the 2012 folks would end up paying twice.

There's some risk that this would still cause 2013 to be oversubscribed, but that would pretty easily be handled by giving folks the option to use the admit in 2014 and thereby space everybody out.  This isn't rocket science.

Today, the NYRR posted the following message on their website.  It's a lot like the message they posted last week:

We are still working through the many issues surrounding the cancelation of the Marathon and promise to update everyone as soon as we can. We know many of you are looking for information about our weekly races, and winter training. We would love to get back to talking about running – starting with Join the Voices 5M on Sunday and our Live Chat with Coach John on Wednesday, December 5. We look forward to your race comments and photos in the coming weeks – thanks for helping us to keep the conversation going.

Um, this is pretty lame.  I'm not quite sure what information they're going to have next week that they don't have this week.   In short the NYRR's rolling PR disaster continues. . .  


  1. In contrast, DC Road Runners GW Birthday marathon was canceled in 2011, for the first time in more than 50 years of continuous running, due to massive snows. They refunded my $35 entry fee without complaint.

    To me, the reason NY looks so bad is that the organization and marathon is so professional. We are willing to accept troubles in the glorified cross-country meets we run on random weekends, but if you are turning this into the world's greatest running party, you had better get it right. Including planning for unlikely but predictable contingencies like weather or war or whatever.

  2. I assume they have business interruption insurance. I wonder if they're having some trouble with their insurer. Remember they didn't say that they cancelled because of the storm. They said they were canceling because of whiners. I wonder if that's a covered risk?