New York city race director Mary Wittenberg, and New York’s deputy mayor for economic development, Robert C. Lieber, have discussed expanding the field of the upcoming marathon to 50,000 runners, according to a recent story in the New York Times.
More than two-thirds of the runners come from outside the tristate area, bringing the city more than $220 million, organizers say. Still, race directors are looking for ways to make their 26.2-mile races even bigger, while somehow maintaining a safe and enjoyable experience for runners.
The New York Times reports that:
"To ease congestion on its five-borough course, New York is implementing a new starting system this year, when more than 39,000 are expected to compete. Recreational runners will begin the race in three intervals, 20 minutes apart.
Liam Mycroft, a 50-year-old tax auditor from Dublin, is a veteran of 22 marathons, including the Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Boston, Winnipeg and Rotterdam races. He ran the London Marathon twice, the last time in 1998. But never again, he said, because of the crowds.
Some streets in big-city marathons, like London’s aptly named Narrow Street, were clearly not fashioned to handle a sea of 70,000 sneaker-clad feet and the 35,000 runners attached to them, Mycroft said.
“You’re running in some places that there are some really tight bends, so you’re almost walking the first three miles and you don’t really get going until six or seven miles in,” he said. “It’s a fantastic, brilliant experience to run toward Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, closer to the end of the race. But when you’re still weaving around people, it’s annoying and not very much fun.”
Bigger fields mean more challenges for race organizers. As the number of entrants increases, so does the number of volunteers, police and medical workers, said Carey Pinkowski, the executive race director for the Chicago Marathon, which caps its registration at 45,000."
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