Disappointed NYC marathoners run in aid of Sandy victims

Sun Nov 4, 2012 5:17pm EST
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By Liana B. Baker

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hundreds of runners in New York City are refusing to let a canceled marathon spoil their Sunday plans and are channeling months of preparation into informal runs intended to benefit victims of superstorm Sandy.

Amid criticism from victims of Monday's storm that the race would divert resources from efforts to help flood-ravaged parts of the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday canceled the marathon. The event, scheduled for Sunday, had been expected to draw more than 40,000 runners to the city.

Early Sunday, more than 1,000 people, many of whom had planned to run the race, crowded onto two Staten Island Ferry boats, headed to the stricken borough with relief supplies ranging from food to plastic bags to help residents store belongings from damaged or destroyed homes.

At the home of Ruth Silverberg on New Dorp Lane in Staten Island, a group of 15 marathon runners formed an assembly line and cleared a basement with seven air conditioners and other debris that had flooded with 4-1/2 feet of water.

"I'm awed," said Silverberg, 59, her voice choking, as she thought it would take two weeks of work and the runners took two hours.

One of the runners was Samantha Somach, a 29-year-old from Manhattan who feared a backlash from Staten Island's residents.

"I was a little afraid we wouldn't be welcomed," said Somach, an event manager for NASCAR. "But people were so grateful. Some people wanted to pay us."

Manhattan's Central Park also was crowded with runners near what would have been the marathon's finish line, scores of them shivering in the lingering overnight cold. A group called run4allcauses was collecting donations for Sandy's victims.   Continued...

Runners participating in fun runs are handed water by a group of friends who created their own aid station in Central Park after the New York Road Runners cancelled the 2012 New York Marathon due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy hitting the region, New York, November 4, 2012. REUTERS/Chip East