Last year, the NYC Marathon was canceled, an unprecedented occurrence due to the presence of Superstorm Sandy. This year, the race is still on—but it’s looking like it will be much smaller than normal. Despite the fact that race officials extended registration by six weeks this year and aggressively recruited runners, about 3,000 spots will remain vacant for the race on November 3rd.
The race is put on by the New York Road Runners, and is a charity event that raises money for its nonprofit partners. In 2011, over 9,000 runners registered for the race, earning about $34 million for charity. But with this year’s shortage of runners, the amount raised will likely drop down to less than $20 million.
That’s a lot of money—and for nonprofit organizations that rely on the race as a major source of income, the hit will be hard. Nonprofit organizations that typically run with full teams will be running this year at far reduced numbers, such as Team Hole in the Wall, which only sold half of its bibs. Similarly, Team Up with Autism Speaks will only be running at 30% capacity.
Many are blaming last year’s race cancellation for the far reduced numbers of participants. “We see this year as an outlier,” said Michael Rodgers of NYRR. “We’ll continue to monitor how charities do, but for us, we see it as a direct correlation to the cancellation last year.”
Many were upset with NYRR’s handling of the cancellation last year, which many runners flew in for and ended up unable to run. NYRR recognized its mistakes, though, and many have forgiven and are moving on.
Whether this year is a fluke or not remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, though—charities will need extra help this year to make up for the loss of income.