After several days of criticism, city officials and race organizers cancelled the 43rd ING New York City Marathon late Friday afternoon.
More than 40,000 runners expected to make their way through a maze of storm damage to the start line on Staten Island Sunday morning, and officials had been steadfast that the race would go on, until reversing course.
The New York Times offered this statement from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “The Marathon has been an integral part of New York City’s life for 40 years and is an event tens of thousands of New Yorkers participate in and millions more watch. While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division. The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination. We 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.”
The Times piece notes that no details had been offered regarding refunds for the entry fees already paid, upwards of $250 for the world’s largest marathon. It would be rare for a marathon to issue refunds.
Based on observations of past events, I would expect that hundreds if not thousands of the runners who traveled to New York, following assurances the marathon would go on, will attempt to run variations of the course on Sunday.