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November 1, 2012

George Hirsch

Eric Rudin

Mary Wittenberg


MARY WITTENBERG:テつ It's been quite the last 24 hours since the mayor decided that the best thing for the City of New York was for the marathon to go on on Sunday.テつ Our every ounce of effort at New York Road Runners has been focused on aiding in every way possible the marathon relief efforts in helping the city rebound, recover from the hurricane.テつ Our hearts have been full of sympathy, support for those lost these last few days, and for those hurt and impacted by the storm.テつ And for every moment that we spend time on adjusting logistics to deliver an amazing, safe and sound race on Sunday, we have spent time on considering how we can best actively support the relief effort now.
I'm really pleased to have George Hirsch, the board of directors, our incredible team at New York Road Runners and our volunteers and all of our partners to say that we've come together to create a campaign, the Race to Recover, a fund, to begin to put dollars to work together in aiding the program efforts, a campaign to begin to put products and services needed by the city now in place to help the city recover.
New York Road Runners, once again, has been incredibly humbled, especially by the Rudin family, and by the outpouring of support not only by partners but by runners, community members and with everybody wanting to support this effort.
Our organization is making an unprecedented contribution and donation to seat this campaign.テつ We will be donating $1 million to kick this off, and we feel so strongly that this is the right thing to do for the City of New York and that this can only be the starting place of our support, our collective support.
George will talk in a moment about how we're hoping to inspire our runners to join in, and I'd first like to ask the Rudin family to share their really good news and support in this effort.
ERIC RUDIN:テつ My first cousin was Michael Rudin, and the Rudin family has a very long and proud connection with the New York City Marathon going back to 1976, the first year it was held in all five boroughs.テつ We love the New York City Marathon, we love New York City and everything it stands for.テつ It's always a fantastic day for the entire city.
Our hearts go out to everyone who has suffered losses through the terrible events of the last week from the storm, and it's beyond words something that just is really unbelievable in so many ways.
So when we heard the Road Runners were putting together this fund and this effort and the mayor announced that the mayor's fund would be raising private funds to support and help the relief effort, people who are in need inside of our city, my father, Jack Rudin and my stepmother Susan Rudin took it to heart, and my father‑‑ my father's words were basically, this is my home, and I have to do the right thing.テつ He and Susan have decided to give a gift of $1 million to this effort.
In addition, our family foundation is going to give another $100,000, for a total gift of $1.1 million.テつ We have supported the Mayor's Fund in this effort, and again, we're always sad to see something‑‑ very sad to see this event, what has occurred the last week.テつ This is our way, one way of trying to give back and help all the people who make the city such a fantastic place.
Thank you very much.
MARY WITTENBERG:テつ Thank you, Eric.テつ I'll also say one of the many events that we have canceled this year in order to focus efforts on Sunday was a really important ceremony, ironically honoring the Rudin family for the special contribution of an award given annually to families who have made unprecedented contributions to running in the City of New York.テつ Ironically we made that decision right before this, so we won't be giving you an award.テつ I think we should go do it after this.テつ Thank you for your constant inspiration and support to this marathon.テつ You have made the city so much of what it is today.
George will talk about how we plan to start mobilizing our running community behind this effort.
GEORGE HIRSCH:テつ Thank you, Mary.テつ I think we've known for a long time, and I go back to 1976, the start of this race along with the Rudin family, they've just proven and demonstrated year in and year out, and generation in and generation out, their support and generosity for this city is unmatched.
We are urging, strongly suggesting to all the runners, there were to be almost 50,000, we don't know how many there will be.テつ We're kind of estimating.テつ We may lose 20 percent, but perhaps 40,000 people will be at the starting line on Sunday.テつ We're suggesting to all of those runners that they make a contribution of at least $26.20, a nice round marathon number, to this cause for the disaster relief.テつ And we're also going to put out a strong message to our 62,000 members of the New York Road Runners that they join the effort.テつ And I know the running community well enough to say there is going to be an extraordinary response.
I've been hearing from runners since it was announced that this race was on, runners who have been without power and suffered in various ways from the storm, and they have applauded the city, because it's a bold move.テつ It's a move that, as you know, does not come without some controversy.テつ But believe me, if the city had made the decision to cancel this race, there would have been at least this great a controversy, because this has always been known as the greatest day in the life of the city, and this city is on the road to recovery to show its resilience, to show the world this is the greatest city in the world.テつ This race goes on, and the city would demand nothing of us.
So we as an organization are committed to putting on an extraordinary event, and I guarantee you by Sunday afternoon the Race to Recover is completed, there will be no discussion whatsoever about any misgivings or questions or controversy about whether this should have taken place.
MARY WITTENBERG:テつ Thank you, George.テつ I'll add that this is just the start.テつ As I said, in addition to our runners, our partners want to support, and I really want to highlight even the owner of Pasha (phon.) Restaurants, he lost two restaurants, and he's donating $26,200.テつ People have been hurt in so many ways, and they all want to come forward and support.テつ It's a collective effort.テつ It's just the start.テつ And we're looking forward to helping in every which way we can from this moment right through the marathon and beyond.
We're ecstatic to say IMG is joining with half a million dollars, $500,000.テつ That's extraordinary.テつ I get chills because that shows the level of commitment our partners have to the city and what we're talking about and how serious we are to significantly aid this effort now.

Q.テつ (Question regarding using social media.)
GEORGE HIRSCH:テつ This is a huge number we're reaching out to, to help us.テつ We can't set a goal, but I expect it's going to be very impressive.
MARY WITTENBERG:テつ In terms of charities, there's a variety of charities involved in the relief efforts, including the mayor's response to the City of New York, the fund through charities that they have approved directly through New York.テつ As far as the Red Cross, our partners at ESPN2 will continue the Race to Recover campaign through the marathon television show, so we have a variety of approved charities.テつ New York Road Runners has committed our marathon to the Mayor's Fund to advance the City of New York.
As an aside, a couple years ago when Katie came through, the New York Parks Department donated $100,000 and we found that very effective, so that's the plan, New York Road Runners and a variety of charities that will benefit from the broader fundraising effort.テつ I don't know if you want to chime in with what you're thinking.
ERIC RUDIN:テつ Well, our gift will be donated to the Mayor's Fund, and we have a great deal of confidence in them.テつ We have supported the Mayor's Fund in the past with other relief efforts that they've been involved with, and I'm sure we'll be in consultation with them, but they will be deciding where the money goes.テつ We feel very confident in dealing with them because of their leadership and also because they charge no administration costs at all.テつ All the money goes directly to charities that will be supported.

Q.テつ Some council members have called for the cancelling of the race and suggested that all of those who were planning on volunteering put their efforts to the recovery efforts.テつ Your response to these council members?
MARY WITTENBERG:テつ One, we join every New Yorker in encouraging people to volunteer now where the needs are today.テつ The expectations come Sunday is that those city resources that are involved in the marathon and volunteer efforts, that the city find a place for those efforts that go against the marathon.テつ We have over 300 charities who count annually on funds raised from the marathon to continue their hard work with well over the vast majority of those charities with funds raised here in the city.テつ We're a few days away from marathon day, but that said, we don't want to detract in any way from the recovery efforts.
We also are working with the city to say what else can we do to help.テつ Some of the resources we have for the marathon we are happy to deploy for the city's benefit now to see to those details.

Q.テつ As we're talking about resources and everything, when you guys were making the decision in terms of the feasibility of the race, how much did your own financial structure impact the decision?

Q.テつ Of all the possible options for this race, were you guys in a financial position to refund runners if they were not able to make it?
MARY WITTENBERG:テつ Let me take that piece by piece.テつ One, I have to say the financial impact of the New York Road Runners was never in the discussion.テつ The city never asked us about it.テつ We never said anything to the city, and we never considered it.テつ We have cancellation insurance.テつ It is such that it protects this organization to ensure that if the marathon doesn't go off we are there today to deliver the services we deliver to the city every single day.
And in terms of refunds, we are extending our policy today of‑‑ I have to say, all day long, what we've heard, international runners can't make it, please promise us we can run next year.テつ The policy has been if someone can't make it they're in next year.テつ That's the policy we're standing by.テつ It doesn't include a refund.テつ I hope that people who can't run (Inaudible).テつ I hope you can feel good about this donation made today because part of it came from the New York Road Runners to do that.

Q.テつ You said this disaster relief campaign is the right thing to do.テつ Many people have sat by as the death toll is continuing to rise.テつ They're not saying you should cancel, it is a great day of New York, but they were suggesting perhaps you could delay it, reschedule it a week later while the recovery efforts continue.テつ What is your response to that?
MARY WITTENBERG:テつ That's the mayor's decision when and if the marathon should run.

Q.テつ All the runners are very concerned about what Sunday is going to look like.テつ Can you talk about logistics, what the start is going to look like and what time they're going to have to get there?
MARY WITTENBERG:テつ I will tell runners absolutely relax.テつ Relax.テつ There are going to be modifications to race day.テつ But the modifications, to be honest, you get a whole lot of perspective because of what people are going through.テつ The runners are going to thrive and they're going to have an amazing experience.テつ While we are finalizing details we ask for their patience, and to answer an earlier question, runners around the world are coming here this weekend, and that I'm sure had a lot to do with why it's this weekend.テつ We're finalizing transportation between tonight and tomorrow, we'll share what the transportation plan is, including everything else in terms of the course and the finish will be the same.テつ Some deliveries are delayed.テつ There will be some amenities, but they'll be modified and different than in the past, but I can assure you the core experience will not only be as good as ever, but I hope, like we saw the year of 9/11 the emotional experience will be as powerful for any runner.

Q.テつ (Inaudible).
MARY WITTENBERG:テつ The question of postponing a week, over 20,000 runners come from around the world.テつ As you know, this city is very busy, and there are conventions next week.テつ Part of why the New York City Marathon is this week is it's been a space where the city has had the hotels available, and that's part of what plays into marathon week.テつ Again, I have to assume a lot of that has factored into the decision of why this Sunday.
Also, if you noticed, it's really a question of the city, the basketball games Saturday night are going on.テつ It's a really hard time right now, and there's always a big question of at what moment does the step forward take place.テつ And I have to believe that the city is certainly‑‑ I think what you saw is the city believes it's important to get that step forward, and we'll be in a place Sunday for it.

Q.テつ In terms of some of the logistic issues, you're saying that by tomorrow, you'll know and obviously we'll know, the New York Road Runners will know, are there ferries available, and if they're not available, then what the contingency plans are as far as course changes or any potential course changes?
MARY WITTENBERG:テつ Let me clarify as much as I can right now.テつ There are no course changes.テつ The course is in good shape.テつ No course changes.
The start, the transportation, New York Road Runners immediately mobilized to put all private resources in place to handle transportation to the start.テつ We have been asked today to revise the plan because the city very much wants the Staten Island ferries in the plan.テつ We're now revising the plan to incorporate the Staten Island ferries.テつ It will be a different plan than the plan we had last week, but it's a plan that will mix private resources and the Staten Island ferries, so those details will be out by tomorrow morning.
And this is a significant point.テつ Obviously transportation has‑‑ there are limitations to transportation throughout the city, so our transportation efforts will not only involve transportation from the New York Public Library, but transportation from Brooklyn, from Queens, from New Jersey, from Long Island.

Q.テつ There are people trying to check into hotels throughout the city because they've been put out by flooding or lost power, and we're hearing that hotels are booked with reservations for the marathon.テつ Do you have any response to that?
MARY WITTENBERG:テつ I think certainly hotel in the city is doing everything they can to accommodate all the needs of New Yorkers, first and foremost, and that's understandable.
Marathoners, we do not expect the full number we've had in the past.テつ We have rapidly released rooms and encouraged runners to cancel if they're not coming, so I can just say that our efforts are making an effort to accommodate every New Yorker.

Q.テつ You talked about obviously releasing rooms and having the runners let you know if they're not coming.テつ What sort of decrease in attendance are you expecting?
MARY WITTENBERG:テつ I think that's an unknown.テつ The year of 9/11 we were expecting about 34,000, 35,000; in the end 24,000, 25,000 came.テつ I think that's about what we'll see.テつ We were expecting 47,500; I think we'll be in the high 30s would be an educated guess.
SPEAKER:テつ In terms of the foreign runners, I think they're coming here for this race, but I think they also are coming to New York to show support for our city.テつ After 9/11 people wanted to come to New York City to volunteer and do things.テつ I'm hoping that these runners will come and maybe volunteer, but at least they're supporting by supporting our economy.テつ That's a really important component of it in our minds.テつ Everybody wants to be supportive and helpful in their own particular way.テつ There is no right or wrong way to do it, and I think a lot of these runners are going to be here and go back to their cities and countries around the world and say what a great effort and how amazing that New Yorkers have come together.テつ And I think that will also inspire other people to contribute to the effort on a broader basis.テつ So I think that's another perspective.
GEORGE HIRSCH:テつ A footnote to what Bill said, I got an email last night from a friend, a runner, two‑time Olympic marathon runner who lives in Oregon, and he said, as I watched this news for the last couple days, I was planning to come, he decided not to.テつ I couldn't come; I shouldn't be here.テつ And then he said, when you said this race was on and this is a race about New York getting back on its feet ‑ this is an email from him ‑ he said, I have to be there.テつ I have to be there to support what you're doing in New York.
I think that sentiment‑‑ I've heard some of it from runners, I've talked to some runners here today.テつ I think you're going to hear that expressed a lot, and I think people want to feel part of the effort of New York getting back on its feet quickly.
MARY WITTENBERG:テつ I just want to add, this is really tough stuff.テつ It's really hard in these moments to know what's best to do. テつWe're responding to what the city believes is best to do right now.
I'll remind you, people have said it's a very different tragedy, but I'd like to say both are really hurtful and tough personally and for the city.テつ After 9/11, it was full of pain, too.テつ Pier 40 was devoted to family members who were identifying names.テつ There was a lot then that felt like is this really the right thing to do at this moment, and I think marathon day was an incredible day.テつ The time is different, the logistics are different in a way, but I think the emotion and the pain we all feel is going to be here this weekend and next weekend and the weekend after.テつ Obviously we're supporting and doing everything we can to make this all about this relief effort.

Q.テつ (No microphone.)
MARY WITTENBERG:テつ We certainly respect all opinions.テつ There's nothing easy about this.テつ There's nothing categorical about it.テつ It's a decision on balance that this is the best thing for the city.テつ We totally appreciate and respect those opinions.

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