If you have run the NYC Marathon before, you may have complained or had an issue with the long lines/wait to get your baggage post-race. For those not familiar with the NYC Marathon, this is what the post-race area is like: All runners enter a chute immediately after crossing the finish line. There is no way in or out of this chute until you make it through all the “checkpoints”. You get your medal and heat blanket, get your photo taken, pick up water, fruit, and other post-race fuel, and then head to the baggage area. There is always a HUGE back-up / wait to get your baggage. After that, you leave the chute and can find your family/friends who are waiting on Central Park West (by lettered signs corresponding to your last name).
I’ve run the NYC Marathon several times. In my opinion, the wait at the end is a necessary evil of participating in a race with almost 50,000 other people. Yes, it is long and stinks and all I want to do is find my family and get inside, but I’ve always viewed it as a good way to keep my body moving (regardless of how slow the crowd is moving).
The organizers of the NYC Marathon announced this morning that baggage check will no longer be provided starting at this year’s marathon. They are instituting this change due to the high volume of complaints regarding the amount of time it takes to make it through the chute system (due to the baggage check checkpoint).
In order to supplement the no-baggage policy, the NYC Marathon will now provide:
- 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. (Source: ingnycmarathon.org)
I am not running the marathon this year – but would be extremely disappointed if I were. Here are my thoughts:
- Cell Phone: I don’t run with my phone, but rely on it pre-race to keep in touch with my family. The call system is great in theory, but what are those lines going to look like? I would much prefer to have my cell phone pre and post-race.
- Warm Clothes: I am lucky enough to have a sister who lives two blocks (yes, only two blocks) from the finish line, so having warm clothes in checked baggage isn’t a necessity for me – I am back in her apartment within 5 minutes of exiting the chute. But, I have run other marathons where this is not the case and having a pair of sweatpants/sweatshirt was CRUCIAL. It is NOT warm in NYC in November.
- Medicine: Again, not necessary for me, but I’m sure there are runners who may need /want medicine or other medical supplies post-race.
- ID / Credit Card / Money: I never run races with this, but I always put it in a ziplock bag because you never know when you might need it. This was my M.O. after Boston – I had planned to walk back to my hotel with my husband but was SO cold and tired that I needed to take a cab instead. Many runners in NYC (especially those who live in/around NYC) usually opt to take the subway (or cab) post-race. They will now be required to carry this with them in order to travel post-race.
I understand that race organizers are always looking to improve on logistics to make the race experience the best it can be. But, I don’t think this is the answer. I’m sure if they took a poll of the 50,000 people registered to run the marathon, the majority would be willing to deal with the long lines in order to maintain this necessary race perk.
What are your thoughts?
Have you ever run a marathon without using the baggage check system?