Doing her usual job of well articulating matters, Julie noted this morning that too often human-interest stories turn inhumane. She was speaking about Edison Peña and his return to the NYC Marathon. I wrote last month about what has happened to him since his last adventure at the NYC Marathon, and it was not pretty. I wondered when NYRR would say something sympathetic about what had happened, about his reaction to the bright-lights/big-city phenomenon that it had put him in. Surely that would have been the decent thing to do.
Someone posted on Facebook, “wouldn’t it be great if NYRR invited him back for 2011” and someone else wondered whether the poster was being sarcastic.
He wasn’t. Sadly, neither is NYRR. In recent days word came down that, yes, Peña will be back. The Times had a fawning article yesterday, “After Tough Year, a Chilean Miner Returns to Run“. It is this “feel-good” story to which Julie referred. Any doubts I had about whether NYRR played a role in this were allayed by the following:
Mary Wittenberg, the director of the New York City Marathon, said that Peña “embodied what this event is all about” in his performance last year.
Afterward, Peña declared his intentions to run in this year’s event. But after reading about the miners’ struggles, race officials reached out to make sure that Peña would be able and willing to compete.
“race officials reached out to make sure that Peña would be able and willing to compete.” Drag someone fighting demons to a press conference with fawning press — I say “fawning” because Mark Viera, from the newspaper-of-record, gives no hint that this was anything but a love-fest of a press conference.
I expressed my opinion about NYRR’s role in what happened to Peña in my earlier post. I come back to it because I am shocked if not surprised that NYRR brought him back.
Wittenberg has in the past referred to Peña as being a model for the idea that running can be redeeming, and that he is an example for others. This, of course, fits into NYRR’s new approach to itself, re-branding itself as a overseer of using running to become healthy. That’s neither here nor there on this.
Brenn and Karla have said that Peña’s an adult, he can make his choices. I agree. Still, NYRR’s enabling was wrong the first time. It is evil the second.
I’m sure people at 89th Street are concerned about what happened and are worried that it might happen again. But the show must go on.