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New York Marathon canceled after post-Hurricane Sandy controversy

Published: Friday, Nov. 2 2012 3:51 p.m. MDT

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg talks to the media near the Empire State Building following a shooting, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, in New York.

Julio Cortez, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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NEW YORK — After initially declaring that the New York Marathon would take place this Sunday, despite the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Road Runners president Mary Wittenberg reversed course Friday afternoon, canceling the event.

The decision not to cancel the race became a much more controversial decision as millions remained without power, livable homes and clean water five days after Sandy ravaged the Northeast.

On Wednesday Bloomberg announced the race would be held, although some associated events were cancelled, including a 5K on Saturday. Runners who decided to participate in the marathon, which attracts more than 40,000 runners from around the world, agreed with Bloomberg that running showed a kind of resiliency that has come to define New York.

“I thought about what I would do if the race got canceled,” professional runner and 2012 Olympic athlete Julie Culley told Time. “I think I would still go to Staten Island and run the full course. The past few days I’ve been paralyzed watching the TV. My family is from New Jersey, but I’m focused and prepared for this. After the race, I’m helping with recovery.”

But on Friday, many New York residents, and even some local elected officials, were voicing frustration with the idea of hosting such a labor-intensive effort when so many are struggling just to meet the basic needs of their families — including food, water and shelter.

On Friday morning WTDN news reported that many residents were angered with the decision as they try to clean up the devestation to their homes and businesses. Staten Island resident George Rosado called the decision to host the marathon "repulsive" and suggested the city focus on restoring power and helping the elderly and sick clean up their homes. Some residents are without housing, and many others are dependent on rescue groups and the National Guard for basic supplies like food and water.

Runners World had a short article on one city employee who was deferring her race entry (which costs runners a fee) so she could focus on helping the most severely affected storm victims recover. She announced her decision on Twitter on Friday.

"I am deferring my marathon entry to 2013," said Paula M. Carlson told the publication. "I have a job to do for the city I love, and running 26.2 miles is far from a priority."

email: adonaldson@desnews.com - Twitter: @adonsports

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