Talk to a guy training for the NYC marathon a week and a half ago, and he’d probably tell you he was excited, nervous, tapering pre-race…the usual. Talk to him yesterday, and he’d probably tell you a whole different story in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Just a few hours after Mayor Bloomberg announced New York City’s ING Marathon was a go, he officially canceled it under heavy criticism, Friday. He said, "We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event—even one as meaningful as this—to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track."
But even though the hurricane was enough to cancel Sunday’s marathon, it sure as hell wasn’t going to stop would-be racers from putting months of training to volunteer use. Over 1,000 marathoners took the ferry across the harbor and ran backpacks stuffed with supplies and clothing to hard-to-reach neighborhoods in Staten Island—the part of the city hit worst by Storm Sandy. Staten Island would’ve been the start for the marathon.
Even more runners climbed dozens of flights of stairs in buildings citywide, which still lacked power or heat. They delivered water, blankets and food to victims without elevator access. Most runners put in several more hours of volunteering than it would’ve taken to run the marathon.
Our take? It’s only the beginning of a long-haul recovery to get the city back on its feet. But it’s a start. And you have to hand it to the runners for stepping up, dedicating their would-be mileage to relief efforts—though nobody anticipated the 2012 marathon would turn out this way.