Last Word: Running Into Risks
New exposures are racing into the world of marathons and road running events.
By: Lori Chordas
October 1, 2016
More than 50,000 runners and walkers are expected to lace up their sneakers and hit the pavement for this year's TCS New York City Marathon on Nov. 6.
Modern marathons are named for the location of an ancient Athens battle from which a Greek soldier is said to have run 140 miles to get help from Sparta. While the art of racing has remained relatively the same since that legendary test of endurance in 490 B.C., the risks have changed dramatically.
Typical exposures--sprained ankles, exhaustion--are now joined by terrorism, weather, civil unrest and even cyberattacks in creating hurdles for today's organizers.
"We're also seeing a rise in communicable diseases like Zika," said Dan Burns, president of specialty risk underwriter PFS. "With news of outbreaks in areas like Miami, it might be inadvisable, according to health organizations, to put thousands of runners in an exposed environment and risk possible exposure to something like Zika or other diseases that are nearing pandemic stages."
"Risks--new and old--are signaling the need for a variety of insurance coverages, such as general liability, directors and officers, medical malpractice for medical volunteers and event cancellation," he said.
"There isn't a week that goes by without some event being cancelled, postponed or relocated," Burns added. "The primary concern when dealing with a marathon is that it's an outdoor event, and weather is the No. 1 cause of a cancelled race. It's something completely outside your control and often offers little notice."
That's something New York Road Runners, the nonprofit group that organizes the annual TCS New York City Marathon, knows all too well. In 2012, the event was cancelled for the first time in its 45-year history--due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. More than 47,000 runners were expected to take part in the race.
Cancellation of the world's largest marathon generated $18.9 million in losses for New York Road Runners. However, those losses...
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