[I received a take-down notice from NYRR. Although I believe that my use of the copyrighted images is a fair use under section 107 of the Copyright Act, for now I’m taking the photos down, but leaving the links to them up.

[Several folks posted stuff about this on the NYRR Facebook page. NYRR has taken those references down, in contradiction to its terms-of-use, which allow “constructive criticism” of NYRR to be expressed there.

[Most important, nothing from NYRR defending, justifying, or apologizing for these lapses.]

[I don’t normally cross-post stuff from what I put on NYCRuns.com but since this is to some extent a follow-up on an earlier post, I’m doing it this time]

[Edited to add: In my original post about the Mini, I noted that the photo was by Ed Haas, NYRR. I should have noted that again here. As to the Healthy-Kidney photo, that too is from NYRR, although I do not know who the photographer is. The video is from YouTube, and it was put up there by NYRRVideo, which I assume is NYRR (and is indicated by YouTube as NYRR.]

Ironically I had a slew of things I wanted to write, but my inability to decide what to say led me to let weeks go by without writing anything about NYRR.

To my rescue was a post on the New York Road Runner page on Facebook (it’s at 12:10pm on May 15). Margaret Tang wrote:

I’d like to see NYRR improve enforcement of seeded corrals, esp. in a large race like Healthy Kidney. While volunteers are doing a great job, there are still many people sneaking into faster corrals. It’s borderline dangerous navigating around walkers, w/ runners forced onto the curb/grass, esp. in a race where crowds don’t really thin out. Check out starting line pic…There’s an 11,000’s bib lined up w/ elite men.

Corral-enforcement is an issue that pops up now and then, although I’ve never seen it as an issue in the Blue corral. But if you go to that Facebook page you’ll see that it is an issue elsewhere, an issue I’ll let NYRR try to figure out. (How about taking down numbers and DQing some misreants?)

More important, the picture has nothing to do with corral-enforcement. It has everything to do with NYRR’s altered priorities.

I had the photos up but received a notice from NYRR that, “On your most recent, wonderfully written blog post you used several copyrighted images. You do not have permission from us or the photographer to use the images, and I must ask you to take them down immediately”. (I excuse the sarcasm since I once sent a sarcastic note to NYRR.)

But the Mini photo can be found HERE. And the Healthy-Kidney one HERE.
First, here’s the photo:

And what’s wrong with the HK that picture? It’s the guy in the middle, the one wearing a number and not a name (there are others like him right behind the first row so he was not alone in this, as you can see here). He’d run the 10K in just over 59 minutes. And, of course, he has a number in the 11 thousands.

And what’s wrong with that picture? A core principle of racing: you start where your ability allows you. It can be rough — I sometimes start out a bit farther up than I should even when I try not to — but this is pretty basic. Yet I don’t blame him or the other fellows like him. My assumption is that he is affiliated with the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, the sponsor of the race, and was invited to stand in or near the front by NYRR. I say that because one cannot show up with the elites without permission of NYRR.

I recall the old days, before corrals, when Fred Lebow, megaphone in hand, would leap at some slow runner who had gotten himself to the front before the start — and you could tell — shooing him away with barely concealed disgust and contempt at someone who had so disregarded a core tenet of race etiquette. The race was the thing.

Could no one at NYRR on Saturday have done the same thing or thought ahead of time about this?

It so happens that all this comes up when I’ve run into some annoyance from NYRR about what happened in last year’s Mini, in particular the appearance in the final stretch of a number of toddlers, finishing with their moms. Most notoriously among them was Paula Radcliffe’s daughter. My understanding, though, is that NYRR had nothing to do with her appearance. That it was her father. Yet her child was not the only one.

My problem, though, is that NYRR widely-distributed one of its photos with 2 toddlers (including Radcliffe’s daughter), which I saw in a New York Times item on the race. I wrote a post about it at the time. Plus (video below) NYRR emphasized it in its video coverage of the race, showing a total of four toddlers in all.So as a PR stunt, NYRR sends around this photo and video encouraging parents to have their kids jump into the race. And, yeah, I know, world-record holder, race celebrating women, toddler, pregnant Kara Goucher, what’s not to love? As more than a few commented when I queried NYRR on Facebook about letting kids onto course, isn’t that kind of dangerous? (For the record, NYRR responded by saying its rules “clearly” prohibit it. I read them. They do not (or at least did not when I checked the other day).)

It’s a shame. Publicity trumps safety. “It was really dangerous.” “Yeah, but did you see that shot?” It’s a shame. Publicity trumps integrity. NYRR’s stated goal no longer is putting on road races. “It’s not the Running Society”, someone there wrote to me. “We promote healthy lifestyles through running and raise lots of money for our charities.” (As a further irony, Fred Lebow objected to attempts to use road racing as a means of raising money for causes. That’s for another day.)

You see it at the Marathon. In 2009, Edward Norton’s charity group — identified by their bright shirts — stood en masse not too far from the blue start line. They were immediately swallowed up and scattered after the cannon went off. The Chilean miner who’d never run a marathon? I know NYRR likes to point to him as inspirational. But based on his number — 7-127 — it appears this novice started in the third corral of the blue start.

On the May 15 New York Running Show we discussed what happened in Healthy-Kidney, and I note there that it was NYRR which allowed it to happen. As to promoting this in the Mini, even if it were not responsible, here’s the official NYRR video of the race; check out 3:20 and 4:00. If it is so wrong, and I think it is, why make such a point of showing it?

Perhaps you’ll say that this must have simply escaped the notice of the powers that be. Well, as to the HK picture, Margaret Tang appears to have seen the problem at a glance, and I did when I saw that Mini photo.