It was a DIY race day for runners caught in NYC marathon cancellation
Some were calling it the people’s marathon, others a makeshift marathon.
Yesterday morning, scores of runners took to Central Park, despite the official cancellation of the New York City Marathon, to help victims of superstorm Sandy.
The mood was upbeat, with spectators coming out to support runners from all over the world (many wearing shirts emblazoned with their countries’ names). The sounds of clapping, cheering and cowbells filled the park.
Also yesterday, more than 1,000 people, many of whom had planned to run the race, headed to Staten Island with relief supplies.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg canceled the marathon on Friday after increasing pressure from New Yorkers and politicians. It was unseemly and even appalling, they said, to divert precious public resources to host an event for 50,000 runners when Sandy rendered almost as many New Yorkers homeless, and thousands were suffering without electricity, water or food.
Runners who had yet to come to NYC in some cases donated their paid-for hotel rooms to storm refugees, but the last-minute cancellation left others from all over the world with no race to run.
The cancellation hit runners Mary Rittgers and Eddie Geddes, who arrived from Denver on Friday, particularly hard. The two had planned to get married just before the 22nd mile and wore T-shirts that read: “Starting the race as 2, finishing as 1.” They still planned to marry, but in a shorter run. The couple said negativity directed toward runners was misplaced.
“People traveled far and wide — English is probably the minority language here today — so you can’t begrudge them for wanting to run,” Geddes said. “There are different ways to look at it, too. This is an uplifting event and these people support the economy.”
Michael Chasan, a first-time marathoner who will run next week’s Harrisburg, Pa., marathon to make up for the canceled event, was disappointed that his first-ever marathon wouldn’t be in New York City. He had decided to run about 10 miles anyway in an effort to raise funds for victims of Sandy.
Marcus Cimino, a fifth-time marathoner and NYU medical student, had been volunteering at NYU Tisch and Bellevue this past week.
Cimino and a couple of friends put together maps and fliers urging people to run an unofficial marathon. “We weren’t the only ones with the idea,” he said, pointing to dozens of runners passing by.
(With Sheila Anne Feeney and Reuters)