New York City Marathon Charities Still Need Runners

NYC Marathon

Hope For The Warriors is one of the official charities of the ING New York City Marathon. (Photo:

Want to run the ING New York City Marathon on November 3, 2013? You still can through one of the race’s official charity partners like the Brain Tumor Foundation.

Thanks to the cancellation of the 2012 ING New York City Marathon, charities are having a hard time filling their spots for the 2013 race. The Wall Street Journal examined the problem in an article on July 19. As of then, half of the normally sold-out 8,200 charity spots were still available.

Theories abound why the charity bibs are taking longer to sell-out this year. One reason may be that New York Road Runners—the organization that puts on the race and one that I freelance for as host of On The Run—offered 2012 charity runners the option of taking a guaranteed entry into this year’s race without raising money again. According to the Journal, 64 percent of the 2012 charity runners have done just that for 2013, with some electing to fund raise again.

Another theory posits that charities are suffering under the compressed timeline for the 2013 race. While NYRR worked to sort out the resolution from 2012, they weren’t promoting the 2013 race. As a result, the application process and lottery took place a full month later than usual, giving charities fewer months to recruit runners.

Others speculate that some runners may have lingering fears regarding security in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings in April or don’t like how NYRR handled things after Hurricane Sandy.

My own personal theory? I think many runners wrote off the 2013 ING New York City Marathon as impossible to get into. They knew a large portion of the race’s spots would go to runners from the canceled 2012 race. So instead of waiting to enter a really tough lottery, they committed to other fall marathons instead.

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon both sold-out in record time after registration rushes caused a bevy of technical difficulties in February and March, respectively. Chicago even had to resort to a lottery for the first time in its history after their registration system via crashed under the demand. It could be that runners flocked to those and other races instead of waiting for New York’s lottery, which didn’t open until April with the drawing schedule for May.

In some respect, runners who wrote-off New York as a harder-to-get bib were right. Some 19,000 of the race’s 48,000 spots went to runners from the canceled 2012 race. Another 8,000 went to entrants via NYRR’s 9+1 program for local runners and 2,000 bibs went to runners who met a time qualifying standard. Only 4,500 runners made it in through the lottery, and remaining spots went to runners who’ve completed the race more than 15 times, applicants who have been denied by the lottery the previous three consecutive years, and international travel partners.

But no one predicted that any of the race’s 8,200 spots reserved for charity runners would still be available come August.

NYC Marathon, First Marathon, ING New York City Marathon

Crossing the finish line of the 2007 ING New York City Marathon. I ran for Team Continuum. (Photo: brightroom)

Normally, when runners don’t get in through the lottery they race to the charity partners, usually buying up all those spots in a few weeks.

That’s what I did in 2007 when I applied through the lottery. I registered for the 2007 ING New York City Marathon through Team Continuum the day I found out I didn’t get in through the lottery. Thousands of runners usually do the same every year.

But this year’s lottery was small. Only 33,000 people applied compared with 93,000 in 2011. That’s 60,000 fewer people clamoring to get into the race. And therein lies the problem for charities.

Runner’s World followed up the Wall Street Journal’s article with a similar theory:

“The lower amount of applicants to the lottery meant there were fewer runners in the typical ‘pipeline’ of runners who often apply for entry to the race through one of our charity partners,” said Michael Rodgers, vice president of development and philanthropy at New York Road Runners and a New York Harriers teammate of mine.

The takeaway for runners? If you’ve always dreamed of running New York, this might be your chance.

Run For A Charity Like The Brain Tumor Foundation

Many charities are actively looking for people to run the ING New York City Marathon and raise money for them—from $3,000 to $5,000 depending on the organization.

One of those charities is the Brain Tumor Foundation. I wrote about them in the wake of the 2012 race’s cancellation. My friend, Seth, was scheduled to run his first marathon in New York for the Brain Tumor Foundation. The cause is near and dear to him. His father died from a brain tumor when Seth was 11 years old.

NYC Marathon, Central Park

Seth ran the “unofficial” New York City Marathon in Central Park on Nov. 4, 2012 after raising $8,500 for the Brain Tumor Foundation. (Photo:

Seth ran the unofficial marathon in Central Park because he wanted to honor the commitment he made to the charity and to his father’s memory. Runner’s World even picked up his story after one of their editors saw my article about him.

Seth is not running the ING New York City Marathon this year, but the Brain Tumor Foundation is one of the many charities struggling to fill their spots. They have several bibs left for runners who want to run the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 3. Their fundraising minimum is $3,000.

I’m partial to this charity because brain tumors have directly affected the lives of many people I know. Seth is not alone. A dear friend’s mother died from a brain tumor when I was a child. I still remember her funeral as one of the saddest days I’ve ever experienced. And a personal friend of mine was diagnosed in December after becoming symptomatic. She has two kids of her own.

The Brain Tumor Foundation supports patients and families affected by brain tumors. They also promote early detection. Their “Road to Early Detection” campaign began offering free brain scans throughout New York City in 2008, and they are currently expanding the program nationally.

According to a representative from the Brain Tumor Foundation, 900,000 Americans are living with brain tumors that have not yet been detected. The foundation promotes preventative MRI brain scans, which they say could save half of all brain tumor patients.

Visit for more information on how to run with them.

All ING New York City Marathon Charities

The ING New York City Marathon categorizes charities by their level of involvement with the race. Gold and Silver charities offer race-day perks like transportation and a tented start area. But many charities at all levels offer other incentives like training programs, teams uniforms, group runs and more. Contact each charity individually to find out what they offer.

Three Gold Charities are affiliated with the race: Team for Kids, NYRR Champion’s Circle, and Fred’s Team—Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Silver Charities include 14 non-profits like The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Hope for the Warriors and Team Continuum. For a complete list, visit here.

Another 86 organizations are Bronze Charities including the Brain Tumor Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Achilles International. For a complete list of Bronze charities, click here.

Finally, the race also has another 159 Community Level Charity Partners.

To run the ING New York City Marathon for charity, runners must register for the race via the individual non-profit organization. Visit to learn more.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


08 2013

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  1. 1

    Interesting. I read an article in the Boston Globe last year, talking about the difficulty people were having raising money for their races. That could be another reason why there are so many open charity spots.
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