Sports

Liguori: By Helping Sandy Victims, Would-Be Marathoners Turned Negative Into A Positive

Volunteers On Staten Island (credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

Volunteers On Staten Island (credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

Superstorm Sandy

By Ann Liguori
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Canceling Sunday’s NYC Marathon was the right thing to do, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Road Runners club suffered a major public relations nightmare by waiting so long to make the decision.

The many runners who spent the day helping victims of Superstorm Sandy on Staten Island helped divert some of the negative attention — and the fact that NYRR donated $1 million to relief efforts helped ease the PR disaster.

According to a New York Times article which outlined the sequence of meetings and decisions, NYRR President Mary Wittenberg decided on Friday morning the race had to be canceled and tried to talk Bloomberg into the decision. But the mayor told reporters on Friday afternoon that he was sticking with his plan after talking to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who encouraged him to do so.

It took Bloomberg until late on Friday afternoon to finally come to his senses. Better late than never.

Adding fuel to the fire were the athletes who just had to run the marathon course on Sunday, regardless, still upset that the race was called off. Maybe seeing first-hand the destruction the storm caused or running past people waiting in long lines for gas had an effect on them? Some people just don’t get it and never will.

For the record, I love the NYC Marathon. I’ve covered the race for many years and understand the logistics and amount of volunteers, police officers, fire-fighters, etc., needed to pull it off. I also appreciate the amount of charity that is involved as many run to raise money and awareness for worthwhile causes. I love what the NYC Marathon stands for – bringing all five boroughs together – and economically, the city and so many small businesses and charities benefit.

But obviously, attention has to continue to focus on recovery efforts.

And for the NYRR’s sake, I hope the attention will not be on how long it took the city to cancel the race, but on the thousands of runners who ended up on Staten Island, who brought food, clothes and suitcases full of goods to those who needed it — and the fact that many of those who were in town to run the NYC Marathon instead spent the day helping storm-ravaged victims.

Have you assisted with the recovery efforts? We’d like to hear about it in the comments below…