The New York City Marathon was canceled amid growing criticism that holding the race so soon after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the city would drain resources and be an affront to residents recovering from floods.
'We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it', Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Road Runners, which organizes the race, said yesterday in a statement. '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 being done to recover from the storm'.
Bloomberg reports that the marathon has become a part of autumn in New York, a day when the city turns out to cheer the best runners in the world as well as joggers lucky enough to gain entry. It was run weeks after the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks, even as crews worked to find human remains and clear the mound of rubble from the collapsed World Trade Center towers.
'The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination', the statement from the mayor and the NYRR said.
About 47,000 participants had registered for the race, including about 20,000 from overseas, according to NYRR spokesman Richard Finn. The event accounts for 40,000 more hotel rooms than usual per day for at least five days, said NYC & Co., the city’s tourism office.
Toni Chaplin-Armer, an executive assistant for University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor Peter Strike in Carlisle, England, spent about $3,500 and arrived in New York on November 1st eager to run the race for the first time.
'I’m angry', Chaplin-Armer, 48, said in a telephone interview after learning of the cancellation. 'To cancel at this late stage, it has a negative effect for people that came from outside New York. I can appreciate how the locals feel, but I don’t appreciate the fact that I flew all the way out here and then this happened'.
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image: © Spencer Thomas