Thursday, August 23, 2012

NYC Marathon - Leave your bags at home

72 days before the running of this year's New York City Marathon, race organizers (NYRR) announced that there would not be a baggage check for the race to "ease finish-line congestion." You can read the official announcement here. Immediately, there was an uproar of angry comments on Twitter and Facebook from runners about this new policy and who could blame them?

We have grown accustom to having a gear check at most - heck, if not all - major road races. To think that one of the world's largest marathons is getting rid of their baggage check is pretty crazy. Having run the NYC Marathon in 2010, I agree with NYRR that the congestion after the race is pretty horrendous. I also agree that something should be done to fix this issue. But, surely there is a better way to do it then this?

This new policy really hurts the runners that are traveling to this race alone. They don't have the option of having their friends and/or family hold on to their belongings at the finish line. For them, they are stuck wearing their racing gear, probably now full of sweat, until they make it back to their hotel. I don't know about you, but the first thing I want to do after a marathon is get out of my nasty running clothes and throw on a pair of comfy flats.

From the NYC Marathon website:

In order to minimize inconvenience to our runners, NYRR has invested in a number of enhancements, including:
  • The Marathon Finish Line Poncho, a water-repellent, hooded, and fleece-lined garment to be handed out to every finisher
  • Establishing NYRR "Call Home" stations at the start and post-finish so runners can communicate with friends and family
  • A new and improved Family Reunion area near the runner exit
  • Increasing the number of wave starts from three to four to reduce runner density along the course and at the finish line.

My thoughts? I hope those ponchos are as luxurious as they sound. However, something tells me when you have to buy 45,000+ of those things, they aren't going to be that nice. Sure, they might keep you dry (well, keep you from getting more wet since your running attire will probably be sweat-laden). But, I wonder how "warm" they will be?

"Call Home" stations? Has any other marathon ever done this before? So, instead of waiting in line to get your checked baggage, you get to wait in a line to use a phone that thousands of other sweaty faces have touched? Fun.

Maybe I'm making a bigger deal out of this than need be? But, I really think NYRR could have come up with a better solution than this. I also don't like how NYRR introduced this new policy MONTHS after the field was set. Something this big should have been mentioned when the lottery was still open. I think it's unfair to drop something like this on the runners so close to race day. In my opinion, they should have waited until 2013 to implement this policy.

As you can tell, I'm a little heated about this and I'm not even running in the race! So, I'd like to open the floor to all of you, especially if you're running the marathon. What are your thoughts on the 'No-Baggage Policy' for the NYC Marathon? Agree? Disagree? Don't care? I'd love to hear from you! 


  1. I'm running it this year, for the first time. I was shocked to hear the news, but it didn't bother me that much. I don't mind dumping my clothes for donation. I have family that will be at the finish. yeah, it's not ideal, but it won't ruin my experience I don't think. For those who don't have someone at the finish line with fresh gear are the ones I feel sorry for. That will suck.

  2. I think it only "big city" marathon experience has been Boston, and I thought the BAA did a terrific job managing the post-finish "baggage claim" areas.....spread them out wide enough that no one area got too congested. Obviously, runners will adjust to the new policy, but I hope this doesn't start to catch on with other race organizers.....