NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Despite the official cancellation of the New York City Marathon, some runners who came to New York from around the world are still going ahead with the 26.2 mile run.
Thousands of runners took to Central Park Sunday morning to run the race.READ MORE: Street Closures Planned In Midtown For Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reports
Teams from Italy, Spain and Germany were among the runners who began the run shortly after dawn.
Four laps around the park will total the marathon. The race is typically run through the five boroughs, though it used to be run solely inside the park.
Other runners who were in town for the marathon instead chose to volunteer on Staten Island to help with the relief effort.
“It’s still pretty rough out here. You don’t realize as soon as the lights come on back in the city, but it’s still bad elsewhere,” runner Mark from Australia told WCBS 880’s Monica Miller.
“I just wanted to participate and hopefully bring a more positive view to runners again,” another runner told Miller.
“A lot people run for charity and they have a reason why they want to hit the finish line but I think for today, this is a much better use of our time,” said a runner who helped launch an online fundraising effort for Staten Island.
The race was officially canceled on Friday amid a growing outcry. Some New Yorkers protested holding the race amid the devastation of superstorm Sandy would divert much needed resources from those left with nothing.READ MORE: 16-Year-Old Shot In The Bronx
Those who demanded the race be called off said the water, generators and volunteers could be better utilized aiding in the relief effort.
Mayor Bloomberg had fought to keep the race on as planned, but issued a statement Friday afternoon saying the controversy had become too much of a distraction.
Even while cancelling the marathon, Bloomberg once again reiterated his stance that “holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort.” However, the mayor said the city would “not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it.”
“We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event – even one as meaningful as this – to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
ING, the marathon’s title sponsor, said it “fully supports the city’s decision to cancel the marathon.”
“We recognize the need for the city to focus its resources on the immediate disaster relief and recovery efforts, and we applaud this decision,” ING said in a statement.
The financial institution said it has made a $500,000 contribution to Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City for immediate and long-term disaster-relief and recovery. They will also be matching employee contributions to relief efforts.
Bloomberg had defended his earlier decision to hold the marathon as a way to raise money for the stricken city and boost morale less than a week after Sandy devastated the area.MORE NEWS: CNN's Chris Cuomo Suspended Indefinitely Over Extent Of Help To His Brother During Scandal
Do you think the city did the right thing cancelling the marathon, or should it have gone on?