This past Sunday, I, along with 47,000 other runners, was planning to take on the celebrated ING New York City Marathon. Thousands of us, from all around the world, spent months and months training for the day we would traverse that 26.2 mile course, and cross the finish line in Central Park. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans.
Hurricane Sandy, a category 1 storm with 100mph winds, came crashing through our city, bringing with her the worst natural disaster New York had seen in over 100 years. Lives taken, businesses and homes destroyed, and thousands without power, the city was unrecognizable. Living below 27th street on the west side, I, like so many others, spent the week without power. The very same week I was supposed to be tapering and relaxing for the goal I had been working towards since June. As Mayor Bloomberg confirmed that the marathon would still go on, a dark cloud set over this very bright event, implanting an internal struggle of what was the right thing to do. But with a staggering 26.2 miles only a few days away, optimism seemed like the only route to take. For running, as they say, is indeed half mental.
Only a few days later, the Marathon was canceled. And remarkably that dark cloud had finally lifted. Although the race was called off, my run was far from over. There is this unspoken community among runners. Although it is a one man/woman sport, often tuned out from the world by head phones, it only take a knob of the head to unite us as we run the same course, morning after morning, And so it was that same unspoken community that brought over one thousand marathon runners together on Sunday to board the Staten Island ferry for a much greater cause then any of us had initially signed up and trained for. New York Runners in Support of Staten Island(https://www.facebook.com/NewYorkRunnersInSupportOfStatenIsland?ref=stream) had organized in a mere 48 hours, a reflection of our modern day social media capabilities and the internal New Yorker drive to really help those in need. Those same New Yorkers that will be there next year, cheering us on.
So where do oysters come into this equation? Well, it’s a known fact that oysters are great for the body (note to those training for the marathon next year) and exceptional for the environment. They are full of nutrients and during their development they filter about 50 gallons of the water they inhabit each day. What is less recognized, is that they have the ability to protect shores against the sort of natural disaster that a Hurricane like Sandy can bring . Perhaps not completely, but at the very least diminishing some of its blow.
As I awaited Sandy, occupying myself with anything but storm related current events, I came across an article by Paul Greenberg in The New York Times(http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/opinion/an-oyster-in-the-storm.html). He was awaiting the storm as well, and just like myself, he was craving some oysters. His hunger, however, was not only slurp deep, but brought with it a historical account of how oysters reefs protected our harbors prior to their depletion. Although oysters have become quite the craze lately, with a different oyster restaurant popping up each month (we welcome this trend), there needs to be more dialect in their importance to our environment. Perhaps one that would encourage patrons to not just shuck and slurp but contribute to rebuilding the reefs that were once our barriers.
Although an immediate initiative would not protect us against Sandy’s evil twin, should it make an appearance next year. But just like training for a marathon, crossing that finish line starts with a desire, and working towards to that goal one day at the time.
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