Preparedness is a Marathon

Logo of the 2014 Utica Boilermaker

Logo of the 2014 Utica Boilermaker

Today marked the 37th running of the Boilermaker, a 15k road race hosted by the City of Utica (New York) for over 17,000 runners from around the world.  The race is a matter of pride for area residents, even those who do not run.

I considered this morning that there are many similarities between a marathon (yes, I’m aware the Boilermaker is in fact not a marathon at just over a third the distance of an actual marathon – work with me on this one) and what an organization, specifically a jurisdiction, must endure for preparedness.

First, preparedness is not a one-off activity, rather it is a culmination of activities.  While the Boilermaker highlights its 15k road race, they have a number of very successful related events including a 5k road race, a three-mile walk, a wheelchair race, and a health and fitness expo.

Preparedness has an ebb and flow of activities just as a marathon has a variety of stretches, turns, and hills.  Both marathons and preparedness should have a high degree of community engagement.  The Boilermaker has a variety of corporate and local business sponsors, engages all services of the City of Utica and many assisting/mutual aid agencies, has a high degree of media coordination, and sees hundreds of volunteers aiding in everything from registration, pre- and post- race clean up, to providing water to athletes along the course.  Our preparedness efforts should also follow this model of whole community engagement.

The most significant difference, however, is that marathons have an end while preparedness is cyclical.

The Preparedness Cycle - FEMA

The Preparedness Cycle – FEMA

The Preparedness Cycle must be worked on all the time and does not end.  To keep morale high and to keep the whole community interested remember to celebrate the accomplishment of each activity just as runners and the community celebrate the completion of their race.  That said, Utica is already preparing for next year’s race.

Congratulations to all of this year’s runners, and congratulations to jurisdictions and organizations beginning their marathon of preparedness.

© 2014 Timothy Riecker

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