NYC marathon cancelled in Hurricane Sandy’s wake

by | Nov 5, 2012 | Sports

By Katherine Ward

[SlideDeck2 id=11310 iframe=1]

For many runners, this weekend was supposed to be the highlight of the race season.

It was intended to be a 26.2 mile feat of¬†athleticism through New York City’s iconic landscapes.

However in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg ultimately cancelled the New York City Marathon – a run that has happened every year since 1970.

“While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear it has become a source of controversy and division,” he said in an press release Friday, following strong expressions of anger from city residents, particularly in the devastated Staten Island borough.

“We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants and so we have decided to cancel it.”

For many, this statement came as a surprise as only three days earlier the race was still scheduled to run.

Statement from the Mayor

[youtube id=”Qtt2zy3my8s” width=”620″ height=”360″]

The runner’s side of things

“There was no indication the run was going to be cancelled,” said Eric Alper, a first time marathoner from Toronto, who got into the race by lottery. “We figured, if the city wants us to come, then there is no reason not to go.”

Some residents were surprised the event wasn’t canceled earlier.

“I understand where the mayor was coming from [wanting to have the race] but people’s nerves were so frayed,” Diana Rosenthal, a New York City resident, told Humber News. “It just seemed strange for runners to have ‘business as usual’ while people are cleaning up the rubble of their homes.”

Because the marathon was cancelled so late, many runners had already arrived in the city.

Even with the cancellation, Alper ran in Central Park with many others and then helped out with the Red Cross.

The replacement marathon

[youtube id=”E227vQmioXw” width=”620″ height=”360″]

Alper said there was a lot of animosity towards marathoners who were in the city.

“There was a real direction of hatred towards runners and lots of mean messages floating around social media from a handful of people,” Alper told Humber News. “But only we were targeted. No one seemed to mention the people who were going to see Broadway shows or sporting events.”

In spite of this tension, Alper said his impression of the city hasn’t changed.

“The reality is on a regular marathon day, there are a million people out there supporting the race – I just wish the race organizers had done a better job communicating, rather than leaving the runners to fend for themselves.”

Josh Wynn, a New Yorker who was also running for the first time, agrees.

“The New York Road Runners¬†(organizers of the race) did a really poor job communicating the fact that the race was cancelled,” Wynn told Humber News. “We have been receiving an email every day from these people leading up to the race and then when it really counted, we weren’t formally informed until late Saturday afternoon, even though the mayor’s announcement was made Friday.”

Many runners, like Josh and Eric, stayed and volunteered their time to support those who had been affected by the storm.

Runners and volunteers who went to Staten Island to help

[youtube id=”5r9639DUhCU” width=”620″ height=”360″]