In light of NYRR’s decision to impose a no-baggage policy (unless, apparently, you pay to run for Fred’s Team), I posted the following on Facebook. It seems an ill-considered decision, one of those that leaves one scratching her head to figure out the thinking, such as it was, behind it. I’m neither a member nor a participant in any of its 2012 races. By 1979, I was generally volunteering at those races I did not run and spent most of marathon week-end working parts of the race, graduating to the (now-extinct) post of head ropeman in 1982 (and first running the race in 1983). This was my first marathon experience:

1979 was my first year volunteering at the Marathon and, it so happens, I was on post-finish baggage duty. Runners had placed their bags on the City buses that had taken them out, each bus having a placard with the relevant number range. In those days, finishers would be directed into chutes that headed to the north, ending shortly before the traffic light by 72nd Street. At the end of the chutes, they were directed to the east, and the family-reunion area and baggage claim was near the mall/bandshell.

At some point, the buses arrived. There were maybe 4 or 5 of us assigned to each bus, and I got bus 1-1000, which meant the first finishers. These were old city-buses and you could swing open the windows at their tops so we threw the bags out. There were no required bags, so it was much like any other NYRRC race, with a small tag indicated the number. Many, however, chose the bag issued at the start so the only way to identify those were by that little tag.

We worked very hard to organize the bags into groups of 100 before the runners arrived. I think we did a pretty good job. As they came, we’d ask for a number and description and would dive into the stack to find it. I don’t think any runner waited more than a few minutes for us to get his (the numbers were solely for men) bag.

Now the race is three times as large now. But 1-1000 are still a thousand numbers.

In 2010 I did see chaos at the 1000-1999 truck. So there is greater depth, i.e., more folks with similar times coming through at the same time, but it seems to me that putting aside the no-baggage/I’ll wait option, I’m sure something can be done to make it work.