NYC Marathon off! Good move.


Good move. (Richard Drew/AP)

The New York City Marathon has been canceled.

Good move.

Marathons, like many of the prominent endurance sporting events of our era, are strange holdovers from times when these behaviors were actually relevant to your survival. After the battle of Marathon, that runner completed his journey and died. That was urgency. Now, you complete it and get to put a bumper sticker on your car.

Most people in the marathon-running class are lucky enough to lead lives where so-called survival skills are totally unnecessary to survive. We fetch water by turning on the faucet. We hunt for food in the aisles of Price Club. We heat our houses with the touch of a button. So we have to manufacture urgency. We run Tough Mudders and Iron Men and marathons and organize fake zombie hunts. We try diets where we hunt all our food with our bare hands. And then we display our skill at events like the New York Marathon, staying comfortably at a hotel where there is WiFi, in a nice, large city, and fly home accomplished in a new t-shirt.

The hurricane has brought perspective. When you have an actual matter of life and death next door, such manufactured urgency rings especially false. No need to create urgency — it is right there. If you want to demonstrate you have what it takes, there’s a better way to do that than running with a number on your back.

This is a marathon well canceled.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".

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