NYC Marathon Baggage Policy Change

For anyone who hasn't heard, NYRR announced the other day that they are no longer going to have a bag check available for the NYC Marathon this year. And, as has almost become the norm with NYRR's policy-changing announcements, it caused a shitstorm.

I find this to be an interesting move by NYRR, since the registration fees for the marathon have steadily increased. I believe this year's registration fee was something like $250.00, which feels like way too much money to be able to do the exact same thing you do every time you throw on clothes and go for a run from your house. They cited the bag check as one of the perks of this fee, and in light of their change of policy, are issuing NYRR ponchos to the angry mob those who registered. (Side note: a poncho? Not even like a sweatshirt, or some of the fairly high-quality NYCM technical gear available? Or a complimentary gym/duffel bag, which, wholesale, would cost the same, if not less than a poncho? That seems to have been a poor choice of appeasing gift, if for no other reason than I can't think of anyone that would actually wear a poncho.)

Last year I chose not to check a bag, and had a designated meetup location right outside the park established so I wouldn't need to carry a phone. I had heard nightmarish things about the baggage congestion, but when I finished the race, I had to go through the same route to get out of the park as I would have to retrieve a checked bag, and a friend I met up with was able to get hers in about 25 seconds, so for me, it would have made no difference - there was no extra wait. That may have been due to my fairly late finishing time, and I can imagine the wait to get bags for the 4:30 marathoners was much longer, but my personal experience was very easy. Of course, for people not familiar with the city or travelling alone I could see how not having access to a bag would be quite an issue. Still, NYRR could very easily have set up a baggage retrieval site elsewhere and do what the airlines do - charge those wishing to check a bag an extra $5 or $10 to cover the cost of the baggage transportation and pick-up site. Since their decisions tend to be fairly unpopular anyway, it seems like it is the most reasonable way to resolve it (at least moreso than a poncho).

It seems to boil down to NYRR seeking to maximize their profits while providing as few services as possible for their runners. And since they have more or less had a monopoly on NYC races for several decades (although less so recently due to their rising unpopularity) they have been able to do so, to their participants' detriment and dismay, because at the end of the day, we all want to run and race, and they provide the largest platform to do so. Will I personally continue to participate in NYRR races? Probably, but I'll think a lot harder before sending in my registration, and explore other local races, even if they are not quite as convenient. In this case, I admit that I'm part of the problem, because I'm still forking over money to NYRR despite the fact that I don't agree with everything they're doing. At this point, I still plan to run the 2013 NYCM, because it's a special race for me, and as long as I can justify and afford the cost of the race (which currently, at $255 I'm not sure I can) but I find it very disappointing that an organization such as NYRR continues to make these poorly-thought-out, almost amateur decisions.


  1. But a PONCHO. That's almost as fun as a smock. Smock, smock, smock.

  2. Wow. I always really wanted to do this race, but honestly I'm reconsidering now. $250??? Insane. I could buy so many cookies at that bakery for that money. And we could just run in the park, right?

  3. Hold up... $255!?!?! That's a good enough reason for me to stick with halves :) I understand a lot of police and road closures are required for a point-to-point course. But wow! You at least get free subway and ferry transportation to the start, right, or do you have to pay for that too? I can see not having baggage drop if the race were in the April to September range, but November in NY is too cold to not have warm clothes waiting after your run. Then again, I liked my special mylar blanket after the Philly half -- does NYRR give out those??