The ING New York City Marathon just got shorter.
In a major change aimed at reducing both overcrowding and the long, wobbly-legged walk after the finish line, the Marathon will no longer check baggage at the start of the race, New York Road Runners officials announced today.
“Our primary objective is to provide runners with the best possible and safest experience,” said NYRR president and CEO Mary Wittenberg. “The post-race walk-off has been too long and too congested, and was overwhelmingly the number-one complaint of our runners for years. We worked in close partnership with the City to develop the best solution that balances our responsibilities to runners with the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.”
Instead of being required to walk nearly a mile after the finish line to retrieve their bags, runners will now exit Central Park sooner, shortening by up to 30 minutes the time it takes to exit Central Park after finishing.
Runners have long complained about crowding at the finish, and an NYRR spokesperson said that the organization has previously tried a number of alternatives. Several years ago, baggage trucks were moved onto Central Park West, with bag retrieval conducted on the street, but congestion grew so severe that emergency lanes were compromised.
“It’s been an evolutionary process and this is a decision that has been several years in the making,” said NYRR spokesperson Richard Finn. “We have made incremental changes in the past and tried everything short of this, but it continued to be a less-than-ideal situation.”
To minimize the inconvenience to runners, NYRR will:
“There are significant costs to this new plan, which NYRR will be wholly absorbing,” said Finn, who cited the Marathon Finish Line Poncho as the biggest expenditure of a total in the mid-six figures. “For many years, thanks in large part to the trucks and volunteer services provided by UPS, there has been minimal cost to NYRR for providing baggage services on Marathon day. Rather than a cost-saving measure, this new plan has been heavily invested in by NYRR.”
Runners will still be allowed to bring items to the start, but the items will either have to be consumed, carried by the runner along the course, or disposed of. NYRR is forming a new partnership with New York/New Jersey Goodwill Industries and UPS to work with Wearable Collections to collect discarded clothing, which will be distributed and sold at Goodwill stores in the greater New York area. In addition, NYRR is working with UPS to offer a pre-paid shipping service from the start area to runners’ homes for items they may not wish to donate.
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