Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ING NYC Marathon NO Bag Check Solutions

Well, let's just say that NYRR was NOT popular last week. After releasing the new NO bag check policy, the outcry was instantaneous and swift. Throngs of people were tweeting and posting on Facebook in response to this announcement. I, on the other hand, calmly read the FAQ's, followed NYRR's responses to runners, and found a funny article about it that made me giggle. My verdict? Something had to change.

Prepare yourself for something truly dreadful: The exit out of the park, also known as the Death March, was horrible. I finished, took a photo, got my HEAVY recovery bag, and started walking out of the park...into a brick wall of runners. I touched on this during my marathon recap, but I didn't want to dwell on a negative detail during a positive moment. Let me tell you, runners: It is TRULY a death march. You've been running, you feel great, you cross your fingers and smile for an awesome medal photo, and now you must stand still for almost 45 minutes. I am telling you the ugly truth, it's horrible. You're like cattle, but none of the cattle are moving. Everyone is causing congestion by getting bags, thus all of us must wait. I had four or five people pass out around me, people panicking while calling for medics; disaster movie stuff. My husband kept calling me thinking something was wrong, and I finally became snippy and said "I will call you when I get out of this God forsaken park." Oops. Anyway. I started really panicking at that point, as was the girl next to me; like panic attack panicking. I wanted OUT. The girl who was joining me in a mental breakdown, thankfully, had her mom with her. The mom calmed us down, assured us that we were going to get out, and stuck with me for another 30 minutes of shuffling. Read: 30 minutes. So, after the high of finishing the marathon, the joy of receiving your metal and some food, you stand in controlled chaos and wait to see the light of day when you finally get out on to the West Side. People, this is not a desirable experience, one that I do not wish on anyone. Therefore, perhaps this new plan could prevent others from this experience?

I believe NYRR has looked at this from every angle. I am glad that NYRR listened to the complaints on their post race questionnaires. Every person I've spoken to ALWAYS lists the exit of the park as their number one complaint. EVERYONE. I don't believe NYRR did this flippantly, nor is it a money saving scheme. In fact, they stated that its costing MORE to provide 47,000 ponchos to all the runners. Some have said perhaps the trucks can be relocated; wouldn't that require MORE walking, a similar trek to returning to your hotel or apartment? If it is imperative to bring something to Staten Island that morning, UPS will be shipping those items back to you. They are providing phone centers at the start AND finish of the race. They're making the family meeting site more organized. In essence, they're trying to assist runners as much as they can in order to get them out of the park as quickly as possible. I mean, who isn't going to love snuggling up in this awesome fleece lined poncho!?

They look so happy. I can't wait to look so happy!

Counter argument: You live in NYC so it doesn't matter to you. True. I have the advantage of living here but, oh wait, you didn't know I live in Queens? Yes, it's true. I live further than most people's hotels will be from Central Park. 4.5 miles from Central Park, to be exact. Unless you're staying in the financial district, you'll be closer to your belongings than I will be. 

Counter argument: You have friends and family who can bring your stuff. Yes. That's true. Mr. Miller and I will be extending assistance to people I know that are from out of town. I've also seen other people already offering to do so. If I had checked a bag and obtained it in the Death March last year, it would have made things worse. There's no room to change, and I would be holding TWO heavy bags. Having someone else bring your stuff sounds better. One solution I thought of would be if hotels could send an employee with bags of runners while standing under the letter of the hotel's name in the meeting area; I know this would probably be too big of a task, but it's one solution that could help out of town solo runners.

Confession: I never check a bag. It's true. I've checked a bag at one race in my career. One. I didn't even need to because I could have left my things in my car. How do I get away with it? I use some awesome gear to carry my things:

I always wear my Fuel Belt. As nerdy as I look, I depend on NO ONE to hydrate me. It helps me get through water stations, or skip them all together. When I'm empty, I find a lonely volunteer with a pitcher or gallon of water and we tag team filling bottles. It's environmentally friendly too, WOOHOO! In my Fuel Belt I have four 8 ounce water bottles and a pocket for storage. I place my electrolyte pills in the pockets. 

Next, the hidden gem: My SPIbelt. (I had to wear it above my fuel belt in the marathon because of my bib, usually it's below.) Meet my Marathon Best Friend. I received this as a birthday present three years ago from a non runner who thought it was cute. SCORE! It has been my constant companion. When I go on shorter runs, I place my phone in it as a more convenient way to access my phone for music and pictures. During a big race, it holds my squirt bottle for my hammer gel and a nutrition bar that I usually eat around miles 12 and 20. When I went on their website recently, I saw that they have something for EVERY storage need. From a plain belt, or a SPIholder for ankle or wrist, to a waterproof attachment bag for fuel and phones, they literally thought of everything. The storage space expands significantly, allowing maximum items to be carried during the race. I HIGHLY recommend this item for the No Bag Check Marathon.

Feeling better about not being able to check your bag at the ING NYC Marathon yet? Well, this should sweeten the deal: The cool people at SPIbelt sent a coupon code just for YOU! They understand the challenges of not checking your bag, so they're offering 10% off and free shipping. Free shipping gets me every time. Here are the codes:

- 10% off SPIbelt coupon code: magellan12
- Free Shipping SPIbelt coupon code: ship12

What about you? Are you still outraged concerning the no bag check policy? Do you use a SPIbelt or other storage gear? Do you ALWAYS check a bag?! TELL ME ABOUT IT!

68 days until the ING NYC MARATHON!!!

*A special thank you to the folks at SPIbelt for extending the coupon codes to readers; I wrote them yesterday afternoon asking if they had any, and I received a PROMPT response! Thank you for a great product and great customer service!
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