2012 New York City Marathon
York City Marathon was canceled Friday by Mayor
Michael Bloomberg after mounting criticism that this
was not the time for a race while the region is still
recovering from superstorm Sandy.
"That controversy (about holding the race) grew and
division grew over the course of the week," Howard
Wolfson, NYC deputy mayor for government affairs and
communications, said at a press conference about the
cancellation on Friday night. "Those of us who love
the city and those of us who love the race realized it
wasn't the marathon if it wasn't a unifying event."
Mary Wittenberg, president of New York Road Runners (NYRR)
which organizes the marathon, said at the press
conference that officials and organizers talked about
a modified race or postponing the event, but decided
it was best to cancel it this year. All the supplies
-- including generators, food and water -- will be
redeployed to people who need it.
This is the first time the
marathon has been cancelled in the event's history. CBS
News correspondent Michelle Miller spoke to a group of
Irish runners who were extremely angry since they spent
$30,000 to get to New York City in time for the marathon.
About 47,000 runners were expected to compete on Sunday.
But, with people in storm-ravaged areas still shivering
without electricity and the death toll in New York City at
more than 40, many New Yorkers recoiled at the prospect of
police officers being assigned to protect a marathon on
An estimated 40,000 runners from around the world had been
expected to take part in the 26.2-mile event. The race had
been scheduled to start in Staten Island, one of the
hardest-hit areas by this week's storm.
"We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its
participants, and so we have decided to cancel it," the
mayor said in a statement. "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."
Bloomberg called the marathon an "integral part of New
York City's life for 40 years" and "an event tens of
thousands of New Yorkers participate in and millions more
He still insisted that holding the race would not require
diverting resources from the recovery effort, but
understood the level of friction.
"It is clear it that it has become the source of
controversy and division," Bloomberg said. "The marathon
has always brought our city together and inspired us with
stories of courage and determination.
Earlier, Bloomberg had said he hoped to lift spirits and
unite the stricken city when he decided to press ahead
with this weekend's marathon. Instead, the move became a
source of division Friday, with some New Yorkers - even
some runners - saying this is not the time for a road
They complained that holding the event just six days after
Sandy would be insensitive and tie up precious resources
when many people are still suffering.
The marathon's start is in Staten Island, the hardest hit
part of the city, with at least 19 dead.
Before the race was cancelled, some marathon runners had
posted Facebook messages vowing to head to the race's
starting line in Staten Island to spend the day
volunteering, not racing.
Even some hotel owners took a stance on the issue. The
Hilton Garden Inn in Staten Island, which has served as a
refuge for people affected by the storm, has vowed to turn
away marathoners - even those with reservations - in order
to preserve rooms for storm evacuees.
"How do I tell people who have no place to go, that have
no home, that have no heat, that you have to leave because
I have to make room for somebody who has to run a
marathon?" hotel owner Richard Nicotra told NY 1 News.
But the last-minuteness of the cancellation has many
runners, some who have traveled from different parts of
the world, frustrated.
"I agree that canceling it was the right move, but it the
decision should have been made immediately," said Joel
Schrock, who was hosting a runner for the weekend. "It's
frustrating that they waited so long."
Some runners at the New Yorker Hotel in midtown -- just
above the blackout zone caused by the superstorm -- were
in the lobby crying when they learned the race was off.
One person was curled up on a couch, sobbing.
"We spend a year on this," said Gisela Clausen of Munich.
"We don't eat what we want. We don't drink what we want.
And we're on the streets for hours. We live for this
marathon, but we understand."
The fee to participate in the race is $250. Roberto
Dell'Olmo, from Vercelli in northern Italy, said he "would
like that the money I give from the marathon goes to
A charity called Race 2 Recover has been started to allow
marathon runners to donate their hotel rooms to NYC
residents who cannot return to their homes, instead of
simply cancelling them. Displaced New Yorkers can also use
the website to help locate a place for them to stay on a
first come first serve basis.