Marathon runners find a way to honor commitments, help victims

Published: Sunday, Nov. 4 2012 10:40 a.m. MST

Dressed to run, people pose for photos at the finish line for the 2012 New York Marathon, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 in New York’s Central Park. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg canceled the marathon on Friday, Nov. 2, amid rising criticism as he planned to go ahead with the race less than a week after much of New York City was damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

Cara Ana, Associated Press

When the decision was made to cancel the New York Marathon just 40 hours before the scheduled Sunday morning start, runners began debating what they should do.

The one thing they did not do was nothing.

Several efforts, most organized through Facebook and Twitter, emerged within ours. One effort organized by 27-year old youth pastor, Lance Sven, was to run the 26.2 miles on their own. About 2,000 runners, including at least one from Utah, showed up for the run.

"In respect to those in need, canceling the NYC marathon was the right move," Sven said on the Facebook Page, Run Anyway Marathon NYC 2012. "But for those of us who are running for causes or for others, we should finish what we started. We will do it like the old days where we run the necessary amount of times around Central Park to complete 26.2 miles. It's totally understandable for you if you would like not to participate but for some of us, we need to complete our obligation."

Sven had raised money for the ALS Foundation to honor the memory of his uncle who passed away from brain cancer.

"When we run for a cause, we need to run anyway," said Sven, who is from Summit, New Jersey. "We don't want to be disrespectful, or to take up resources," said Sven, who agreed the marathon needed to be nixed in the aftermath of Sandy. "All we intend to do is put our miles in around the park."

The runners had to be able to support themselves, and the group had collection points for food, clothing and blankets that Sven planned to deliver later Sunday.

"This is almost as good as the real one," Chris Haynes, 57, from Utah told the New York Daily News.

Another effort organized by runners was called New York Runners in Support of Staten Island.

Thousands of runners made their way to Staten Island Sunday morning, many wearing their marathon shirts and bibs, and organized into groups that dispersed where ever help was needed. One runner flew into New York on Thursday and headed to out to see how he could help even before the race was cancelled Friday afternoon.

"I made six new best friends here," Mike Sawa, Indianapolis, told ESPN. "I got more than I gaveI came here to run the race. This was much more rewarding than any race.

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