Late Friday evening, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the City was cancelling Sunday’s ING Marathon, a decision many believed to be a long time coming. Some New Yorkers were angry when Bloomberg first announced earlier in the week that the marathon would go on in the wake of Sandy. Many questioned why the City was using its scarce resources when many were without power, food, and even a place to go home to. I saw both sides of the issue, understanding why people were outraged at Bloomberg’s primary decision to support the marathon but also sympathizing with those runners who were devastated by the last-minute cancellation. I know a number of New Yorkers who trained for the marathon including my roommate, Ashlee. I watched Ashlee as she passionately trained for the past six months with the sheer determination and excitement only marathon runners can understand. So on Friday when the City announced its final decision, it was a huge blow to Ashlee and all of us who had watched her work so hard.
It was tough for the over 50,000 runners who found themselves without a NYC marathon to run, but out of their loss came a group of people with plenty of energy and a mission to give back. Early on Sunday, a group of 1,300 runners, including many foreigners who came to New York to run the marathon, boarded the Staten Island Ferry and headed to the city’s most affected areas. Carrying backpacks full of donated goods, these good Samaritans ran through the Sandy-ravaged towns delivering much-needed supplies to Staten Island residents. The organizer of the annual marathon, New York Road Runners also donated race supplies to the relief effort. The Facebook page New York Runners In Support of Staten Island coordinated the relief run. The page describes Sunday’s purpose: “Runners and the NYC running community has always been about helping those in need. This is our chance to deliver help on our doorstep.”
In addition to the Staten Island relief run, many marathoners spent their Sunday in Central Park running laps as a way to complete their own New York marathon and raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Like many NYC marathon runners, my roommate Ashlee will be running in the Harrisburg, PA marathon this Saturday, November 10th finally getting her chance to complete the race she trained so hard for. I’m so proud of her and all of the runners who used their free Sunday to help those who needed it most. The volunteer efforts by the thousands of runners was just another example of why New York is the greatest city on the planet, with the greatest sense of a community coming together to help one another.