Update: The New York City Marathon has been cancelled, according to news reports.
The race must go on. That’s the word from Mayor Michael Bloomberg who says they have the resources to ensure both the safety of residents affected by Hurricane Sandy and to manage the thousands of runners and spectators for this year’s New York City Marathon.
The 26.2-mile race through all five boroughs of New York City starts in Staten Island, the hardest hit. Many saying that the decision to go on is a bad one.
The debate on the New York Road Runners Facebook page is heating up with commenters chastising the organization that runs the marathon for being insensitive to those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Locally, opinions vary.
Wendy Frazier, a Port Jefferson Station resident, ran in the New York City Marathon last year.
“I am not running this year, but even if I was, I would defer,” she told Patch. “I don't think the marathon should be held right now.”
Even though the marathon runners train for months and it takes a tremendous amount of planning while contributing to the city’s economy, Frazier said it will take away from people who are in need.
“The resources that are being put towards the marathon (extra police, generators, hotel rooms, cooling stations and the closing of major bridges) only diverts those much needed resources from the people who need it most,” she said.
On the other hand, Port Jefferson resident Don Nenninger thinks that people need an event like the marathon to lift their spirits.
“We can often get caught up in the hype of popular events, forgetting that the essence of competition is the triumph of the spirit over the challenges that life will always present,” he said. “The marathon in its simplest terms is a run and running is a great way to move towards meeting the latest challenge in your life.”
People travel from around the world to participate in the marathon and Nenninger said that if New York City can handle the logistics it should be held.
The New York Road Runners Club was quick to rebranded the marathon as a “Race to Recover.” It will donate at least $1 million to charities involved in relief efforts, including the Mayor’s Fund and the American Red Cross, according its the website.
“I know that I will be encouraged to watch the run even though it's been a tough week,” Nenninger said. “It's a positive and inspiring activity.”
But like many outraged people posting to Facebook, politicians and others who have criticized Mayor Bloomberg for continuing to hold the race, Frazier says it’s not the right thing to do right now.
“It is (in my opinion) incredibly insensitive to the people of Staten Island, the city, New Jersey and Long Island who are trying to ‘just survive,’” she said.
The New York Roadrunners Club suggest ways to donate to help the relief effort in New York. To donate through the Mayor’s Fund, please click here. Visit NYRR's fundraising platform CrowdRise, to donate to a variety of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. From your mobile phone, text "redcross" to 90999 to donate $10 through your wireless carrier.