New York cancels Sunday marathon in wake of deadly storm

Sat Nov 3, 2012 7:44am EDT
 

By Martha Graybow and Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg abruptly reversed course and canceled Sunday's marathon, a beloved annual race that had become a lightning rod for people frustrated by the disastrous aftermath of megastorm Sandy.

The decision on Friday came after a growing number of storm victims, some runners, and other politicians criticized Bloomberg's decision earlier in the week to go forward with the marathon, one of the world's most popular sporting events. They said the race, expected to draw more than 40,000 runners, could have diverted police and other resources from recovery efforts.

Bloomberg, hours after he repeated plans for the race to take place, issued a statement saying the event had become a "source of controversy and division" and would be scrubbed. The race will not be run again until next year, organizers said.

The decision removes what could have a been a dark spot on the mayor's legacy. Public opinion in the past few days had turned against the mayor, with growing numbers saying it was inappropriate to run the race when so many New Yorkers were suffering.

People angered by the marathon plans had set up online petitions calling for runners to boycott the 26.2-mile race, or to run backward from the starting line in protest.

The uproar grew after the New York Road Runners Club, the race organizer, set up generators in Central Park for communications and other operations. It said it had paid for those privately, not with public funds, but some complained that the equipment should have been donated to those without power, electricity or heat.

Some runners, hearing of the cancellation, expressed frustration.

"I have mixed emotions," said Christopher Miller, 34, of New Rochelle, New York, who would have been running his fourth New York City marathon. "Our hearts go out to people for their suffering, and also to the thousands who came from out of town and will leave without accomplishing what they set out to do months ago."   Continued...

 
Workers adjust the finish line of the 2012 ING Marathon after the race was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy, in New York, November 2, 2012. REUTERS/Chip East