Sports Law • Risk Management

November 7, 2010: NYC Marathon Results & Risk Management Considerations

The results are in for the winners of the ING New York City Marathon. Edna Kiplagat of Kenya won the women’s division in 2:28:20 and Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia won overall in a time of 2:08:14. Top marathon runners, like Kiplagat and Gebremariam, run over twenty-six miles averaging a mile time that is faster than most can even run a single mile. The impressive speed of these top athletes attracts similarly qualified competitors to the event.

International participation, like that of this year’s NYC Marathon’s winners, has certainly contributed to this event’s popularity and competitive atmosphere. Yet as the popularity and competition has grown since the inaugural NYC Marathon forty years ago, there are certain risk management factors that should be considered by directors of similar growing road races.

1. Increased insurance coverage – more people, more risks, more liability, it may be time for more insurance coverage.

2. Organized waivers – more people, more waivers, if you get sued you have to be able to find the signed participant waiver so consider an online waiver collection system.

3. Good weather planning – good weather, more spectators, which means you need more security; good weather can also contribute to dehydration so be sure to have plenty of fluids and ice on hand.

4. Bad weather planning – bad weather like rain or snow could mean more injuries from falls on slippery road manholes and grates, blisters or sores from running with wet feet, or cold muscles getting pulled, bad weather can also require planning in the event of lightening or other extreme weather could require an event delay or even an evacuation.

5. Logistics of medical personnel – with more people on the course you need a solid plan on how medical personnel can fight the crowds to access people with needs and how medics can quickly identify who needs the medical assistance.

6. Logistics of support – extra food, water and bathrooms are needed, extra staff, security, and volunteers are also important.

7. Logistics of crowd control –wave starts can space out participants, separate wheelchair or other special needs competitors from the able-bodied athletes, close all roads and intersections to traffic, close the course to spectators, mark or block potential hazards where people could trip or otherwise be injured.

8. Security planning = an emergency plan should be created to include incidents from terrorist attack, bomb threats, gang or neighborhood violence.