This morning, the New York Road Runners Club announced that it would stop offering baggage check at the ING NYC Marathon, to "ease finish-line congestion." Unsurprisingly, runners are up in arms: One commented on the NYRR Facebook page, "So you now expect runners to carry: cash, Metro card, phone, keys while they run? Will you be supplying a race belt for this since I NEVER run with one???And you will also be supplying warm clothes at the end, right? Since I always immediately change out of my wet clothes."

Well, the NYRR will now offer a "Marathon Finish Line Poncho, a water-repellent, hooded, and fleece-lined garment to be handed out to every finisher" and they will establish "NYRR 'Call Home' stations at the start and post-finish so runners can communicate with friends and family" and a "new and improved Family Reunion area near the runner exit," as well as increase "the number of wave starts from three to four to reduce runner density along the course and at the finish line."

Previously, runners would pack up their belongings in Staten Island, where the race begins, and then, thanks to barcodes, their bags traveled to Manhattan via a caravan of UPS trucks to be dropped off along Central Park West for pick-up. The group claims that, based on feedback, post-race congestion has been a problem, so the policy "was developed over several years to provide a better and safer post-finish experience," in consultation with other NYC agencies.

The NY Road Runners offered a FAQ about the decision, including these answers:

This has never been done at a major marathon before. How do you know it will work?

We have put a great deal of thought and planning into the No-Baggage Policy and its execution from an operational standpoint. We have worked closely with City agencies and the Mayor's Office and together have developed this plan.

Will UPS still be involved with the marathon?
UPS is a valued partner of NYRR and has been a sponsor of the Marathon for more than 15 years. This year is no different. NYRR has been very fortunate to have UPS as a partner. In the past, UPS has provided more than 70 trucks and 300 volunteers to help transport baggage from the start to the finish. With the change to our policy, we are not able to utilize UPS trucks. However, UPS employees will continue to be key members of our team, including a partner of our clothing donation effort at the start.

Why was information about the No-Baggage Policy not available when I applied to run?
It has taken a great deal of planning to determine the best execution of the No-Baggage Policy. The plans have just recently been finalized and approved by our New York City partners and major stakeholders and are now ready to share with you.
Is NYRR saving money by implementing the No-Baggage Policy?
We are implementing the No-Baggage Policy to ensure the best and safest runner experience at the marathon. There is no cost savings to NYRR; in fact, we are making a significant investment, including the cost of the Marathon Finish Line Poncho.

Still some runners aren't convinced: One posted, "The problem I found was not at the pick-up baggage area, rather right after the finish getting my medal, the cover-up and then waiting for the picture. That was where the most congestion was. By having the UPS trucks, it 'forced' me to walk about 20 blocks which you should do anyway after running 26.2 miles. Don't agree at all with this decision."

Another opined, "This is horrible! Who was complaining? I loved the long walk after running 26.2 and my legs need it. Last year I had my iPhone in start village so I could take pictures, chat with friends, share the experience, etc. Now I can't document any of it! Also, you're going to have 50k runners at the finish...now you're opening it up to friends & family so they can bring in our dry gear - it will be even more massive congestion! And I can't imagine being in that crowd without my phone. I can't imagine the phones you provide will be readily accessible - how many people will be in line for those? I am so disappointed & disgusted."

The decision seems to most affect people who might be coming to run from out of town or might not have friends or family to meet them. As one runner posted, "Is nyrr going to pay for my hotel room instead? It takes me 2 hours to get back home to Brooklyn...with only a poncho?!?! My friends are also running so I don't have anyone to hand me stuff at the finish. What about keys, cell phone, money, metrocards? I think having a fast track option for those who don't want to check a bag is a better solution. Please rethink!"