NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the NYC Marathon will go on as planned Sunday after Superstorm Sandy devastated the city.
Marathon organizers had been moving forward with planning but awaited final word from the city about whether holding the race would be safe and viable with flooding, power outages and transit shutdowns still afflicting the five boroughs.
“Some people said, ‘You shouldn’t run the marathon.’ There’s an awful lot of small businesses that depend on these people,” said Bloomberg. “We have to have an economy. There are lots of people that have come here, it’s a great event for New York.”
Now comes the hard part — and no, we’re not talking about 26.2 miles. With the city’s mass transit system beginning to get back on its feet, the biggest challenge for this marathon could be getting to the start in Staten Island, not the finish.
Nearly 20,000 amateur international runners were scheduled to fly in for the race. Family and friends of runners must somehow find a way to their viewing spots. Race organizers expected to reschedule the elite runners’ flights to get them in on time.
Bloomberg said he may ask officials to enforce a time limit so “stragglers” wouldn’t have to run in darkness through areas that could possibly remain without power.
New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg said Wednesday that organizers were preparing to use more private contractors than past years to reduce the strain on city services. Wittenberg insisted the race can be an inspiration to New Yorkers and benefit businesses that have lost money because of the storm.
The 26.2-mile route through the five boroughs mostly avoids the areas hit hardest by flooding. Organizers were expecting nearly 50,000 runners before the storm hit. However they have no idea how many will actually make it to start the race.
“We will keep all options open with regard to making any accommodations and adjustments necessary to race day and race weekend events,” Wittenberg said in a statement Tuesday.
The 43rd edition of the marathon is set to include three Olympic medalists and the reigning women’s world champion.
Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang won bronze in the Olympic men’s marathon. His challengers include 2011 Chicago Marathon champ Moses Mosop of Kenya, 2010 New York winner Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia and top American Meb Keflezighi.
In 2009, Keflezighi became the first American since Alberto Salazar in 1982 to win New York. He was fourth at the Olympics.
Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelana won gold and Russia’s Tatyana Arkhipova took bronze in the women’s race in London. Edna Kiplagat of Kenya won a world title a year earlier.
Last year’s runner-up in New York, Ethiopian Buzunesh Deba, doesn’t have to get on a plane to make the race. She knows exactly what the city is going through — Deba lives in the Bronx.
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