Superstorm Sandy has been top news since she started brewing in the Atlantic several weeks ago. However, once she made landfall last weekend, this storm has created news stories we’ll never forget. With the communities of New York and New Jersey taking the hardest hits, the most densely populated areas of our nation found themselves in despair. All of this coincided with one of the nation’s biggest events preparing to take place in New York City.
The New York City Marathon was scheduled for Sunday, November 4, 2023. Nearly 50,000 runners and their families were still set to descend on the city as the infamous race had not yet been cancelled and was still scheduled to run the 26.2 miles through all five of the New York burroughs. Mayor Michael Bloomberg had announced that the race would go on and essentially asked runners to come to New York to boost morale, generate tremendous revenue, and simply give the brokenhearted city something to cheer about. With uncertainty, many of those thousands of runners boarded their flights and made their way to NYC to run the race they had trained so long and so hard for.
Despite much of the city still being without power the expo doors opened on Friday. Elite runners began their press interviews, runners from around the world filed in to collect their bib numbers and buy their 2023 marathon apparel. All the while frustration was mounting in the city. Runners were being called selfish, as Melissa Dunn expressed in a tweet to DietsInReview.
@dietsinreview @lacyjhansen maybe runners there could volunteer to help clean up or serve food instead of complainin about no run #selfish
— Melissa Dunn (@lissyfitmel) November 2, 2023
The race was being accused of robbing resources from those in need; simply stated, it was getting heated. Who knows what caused the announcement, but late Friday afternoon Mayor Bloomberg called off the race. A call that lead to a fury of emotions for all sides of the debate, but has since shown the runners doing what Bloomberg wanted all along – morale boosting and mending of broken hearts.
We have decided to cancel the NYC marathon. The New York Road Runners will have additional information in days ahead for participants.
— NYC Mayor’s Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) November 2, 2023
Runners were chastised for admitting their disappointment with the timing of Bloomberg’s announcement. I think all runners agree it was the right call, they simply couldn’t believe it came so late, when many of them were already there, spent the money, clogged up the airports, used up taxis’ gas in the midst of a fuel shortage, and even occupied hotel rooms that could be used for those who live in the city and had lost everything. However, on Friday, emotions were too high and no one could see the runners as innocent bystanders in a hectic tragedy.
Saturday came and more power come back on. More resources were delivered, many of those items came from the race, and I think everyone had some time to breathe. Come marathon day, everyone had some time to regroup and I think NYC was able to see runners in the light I seem to know most of them in.
By 8:00 Sunday morning, the Staten Island ferry had nearly overflowed with would-be runners from all over the world. They had joined a group who decided to run with packs of relief items out to some of the hardest hit areas. Runners’ World reported that many of the residents were very surprised to see runner’s literally running relief into their city, and most expressed their appreciation.
Runners on Staten Island volunteering for hurricane relief efforts #nycm instagr.am/p/RnMLSFoCT-/
— Runner’s World (@runnersworld) November 4, 2023
We loved this post from Humans of New York on Facebook showing two Dutch women trading their race bibs for plastic gloves as they help clean up a neighborhood in Staten Island.
Throughout the rest of the day, the runners did what so many of us do when things are tough, we run anyway. Central Park became the scene of many would-be marathoners, joining in multiple group runs just to celebrate and unite as one. Some ran one loop, some ran two, some went the whole 26.2 miles, but all were kind, supportive, and trying to make the best of a bad situation.
Matt Brunett of Valley Center, KS and Dale Bing of Wichita, KS joined the crowds in the park on Sunday. Brunett heard of the cancellation after he’d been to the expo; Bing heard the news moments after he got off the plane. They both said the run was a positive experience. Bing left town after the run to open up space in the hotel for those who needed it. Brunett says he’s still in NYC and has enjoyed shopping high end stores in his very unique 2023 NYC Marathon gear.
The storm left many marks this past week. Hopefully NYC will know that the runners meant no disrespect, we are a compassionate lot. Most of us run to support those in need, to raise money to find cures, to give back with the talents we’ve been given. The 2023 ING New York City Marathon has now become the “Race to Recover.” So far efforts have raised $2.6 million to assist those in need, according to ING. If you’d like to join the efforts you can do so by visiting their website.
At Run4NYC.com, you can schedule your own 5k, half marathon, or full marathon on your own or with friends between now and Sunday, November 11. When you sign up, you can make a donation in any amount you choose. Just one more example of how runners of every caliber across the nation can come together to support the New York City community.
It’s been my experience that runners run to be free and when another isn’t able, we want them to be free as well. This support will help bring freedoms to those who have been disabled by the storm.
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Run Anyway image via RT.com