Poll: Should the New York City Marathon Go On?
2011 New York City Marathon | Photo Credits: Timothy Clary/AFP/Getty Images
New York City is fully immersed in Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, with thousands of residents still without power and mass transit only partially restored, but the city is still planning to hold its marathon on Sunday. Some are calling the race a symbol of New Yorkers' resilience, while others are lambasting the decision, saying that the resources being diverted to the race could be better used in such devastated areas like Staten Island and parts of Queens.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has never wavered in his decision to continue with the marathon, even though other elected officials, including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and some runners have said it should be postponed or canceled.
"This city is a city where we have to go on," the mayor said at a press conference Thursday.
Key factors include the time, effort and costliness of rescheduling or scrapping the race, which draws thousands of participants and spectators from around the world to New York each fall and generates millions of dollars of revenue for the city.
But it also requires resources, such as police and fire personnel, food, water, accommodations for the runners, and power generators. (It's worth noting that power is expected to be restored to Lower Manhattan by Sunday.) A number of planned events leading up to the race have been canceled.
On Thursday and Friday, a handful of power generators — albeit ones privately owned by New York Road Runners, the organization that puts on the race — were being used in Central Park to fuel media tents, according to the New York Post.
"They should make all of these runners bring food and water to people's houses who need it," one Coney Island resident told the Post. "They should bring all of these generators to buildings where old people live and give them power."
Adding to the awkwardness? The race starts in Staten Island, the borough that was hit hardest by the storm and where several residents were killed or stranded after their homes were washed away. A Facebook group started by one resident advocating the cancellation of the race had amassed nearly 29,000 "Likes" as of Friday morning.
About 40,000 runners will participate Sunday, which is 15 percent less than originally thought, according to the New York Times. The deadline for participants to withdraw from the race has been extended to Saturday.
New York Road Runners has said that going forward with the marathon will raise both funds and spirits for the relief efforts. NYRR Chief Executive Mary Wittenberg said the organization will donate $1 million, as well as other supplies, to the recovery, and other race sponsors have also pledged to donate more than $1 million, according to the Times.