Before the New York City Marathon on Nov. 2, runners from all over the world arrived early covered from head to toe in layers to stay warm.
Some wore standard clothing items made of fleece, down, wool and cotton. Others got more creative, wearing trash bags, which help with insulation. One runner, Williams Garcia of Venezuela, stretched an extra pair of wool socks over his running shoes, trying to keep warm even after throwing on a trash bag, two sweatshirts, a scarf and two blankets.
But once the marathon began, runners began shedding their extra layers — and charity organization Goodwill was at the starting gates with dozens of donation bins and boxes to collect the cast-off clothing.
Goodwill estimated that it collected around 26 tons of clothing from the 50,000 runners participating in the New York City Marathon. As a result, it earned the title of the largest clothing donation event this year.
Henry Mazurak, a runner from Brooklyn, told one reporter that he would donate “everything you see on me,” motioning from his hoodie, sweatpants, and gloves. “I’m giving everything that kept me warm this morning in hopes that it will keep someone else warm — someone who needs these clothes much more than I do.”
Before marathons, many runners often worry about what to do with the extra layers they bring to stay cozy before the run, according to Mauricio Hernandez, Goodwill’s vice president of business affairs. The idea of soliciting donations made a lot of sense, he said, and provided “a great solution that allows the runners to be environmentally conscious.” Hernandez explained that all of the clothing would be sent to the stores if deemed acceptable.
Goodwill also collected clothing in 2013 with the city’s Department of Sanitation and Reuse!NYC. Another group, New York Road Runners, has also collected leftover clothing for charity for several years. This year, some runners brought extra running gear for the sole purpose of donating.
This wasn’t the only clothing-related charity effort during this year’s marathon. David Babcock, from Missouri, knitted a 12-foot scarf while he ran in order to raise money for the New York City Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Babcock now holds the world record for longest knit scarf completed while running a marathon, and he beat his personal best marathon time by one minute that day.