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New York Road Runners struggles to balance growth, tradition

The New York Times digs into the war around NYRR chief Mary Wittenberg, where profit and the promotion of the sport of running collide.

Chris Trotman - Getty Images

As the 2012 New York City Marathon approaches, the New York Times' Juliet Macur and Ken Belson have a deep story on the deep divide between the old New York Road Runners and the new version led by Mary Wittenberg, one of $250 marathons and packed-to-the-gills 5Ks. The old school Road Runners are upset they've been priced out of major races and crowded out of their favorites. Wittenberg responds with this:

"We're not sorry we're successful."

Well then.

Part of this, I imagine, is timing. Wittenberg took the reins in 2005, as distance running was exploding as a participant sport in the United States. Part of the growth in popularity of NYRR's races is surely independent of Wittenberg's particular acumen at, uh, growing the popularity of NYRR's races. I think we've also seen local race organizers who are hardly skilled at promotion and runner relations who still see growing fields and can charge higher prices. That Wittenberg is incredibly skilled at her job only magnifies what would be an inevitable issue otherwise.

Regardless, this is a fantastic story on the sport in New York specifically and in the United States more generally. I highly recommend reading it.