Athletics Athletics

Mayor says Sunday’s New York race will happen


NEW YORK USA, November 1 – Despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, the 43rd New York Marathon will be staged Sunday as scheduled, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday.

Organizers had been proceeding as planned to put together the annual event that runs through all five boroughs of the largest city in America as they awaited final word from city officials.

As Bloomberg announced his decision, flooding and power outages persisted around the metropolis, where the subway remained shut due to damage from the superstorm that blasted ashore late Monday in nearby New Jersey and left at least 50 Americans dead.

“Some people said you shouldn’t run the marathon,” Bloomberg said. But “there’s an awful lot of small businesses that depend on these people. We have to have an economy.”

“There are lots of people that have come here,” Bloomberg added. “It’s a great event for New York and I think for those who were lost, you’ve got to believe they would want us to have an economy and have a city go on for those they left behind.”

While the mayor hoped to sustain some of the $340 million boost the city receives each year from the race, some issues still had to resolved.

One concern was how some of the 50,000 runners would arrive from other nations to run through the disaster-stricken streets of New York.

Mary Wittenberg, president of the New York Road Runners, said organizers were set to hire private contractors to replace city workers who would typically handle such things as security and medical needs for the race.

Many of those workers will be spending all week helping New York pull together after the storm shattered buildings and trees in a pre-Halloween horror show.

Wittenberg said the race could serve as much-needed inspiration to New Yorkers and help boost some businesses that suffered storm-related losses.

“It will be motivation to say, ‘Look what happened,’ and we’ll put on the race, and we’ll give them a good show,” said 2009 men’s winner Meb Keflezighi.

But logistic headaches remain, from securing the route as it winds through the city, to transporting runners to the starting line on Staten Island. A ferry and tunnel commonly used to get runners in place remain closed.

Also closed Wednesday was Central Park, where hundreds of trees were felled and where the race is set to conclude on Sunday.