New York, NY
City officials and race organizers have decided to cancel Sunday's New York City Marathon, giving in to public clamor to focus the city's resources on rebuilding efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's devastation.
It was the first time the marathon was cancelled since its inception in 1970. Before this, the marathon had been held every year, even after the September 11 terrorist attack in New York in 2001.
"It's clear that the best thing for New York and the best thing for the marathon and the future is, unfortunately, to move on," said Mary Wittenberg, head of the New York Road Runners, the organization that operates the marathon.
"This isn't the year or the time to run it. It's crushing and really difficult. One of the toughest decisions we ever made," she added.
Earlier, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Wittenberg decided to push through with the event, saying it would provide morale and economic boost.
However, critics said that diverting the police and fire crews to perform marathon duties is a misuse of precious public services as New York struggles to get back on its feet after the devastation.
"The marathon is about uniting the city," said Road Runners chairman George Hirsch. "But all it was doing was dividing it. Is that what the New York City Marathon is all about? No, not at all."
The organizers did not provide details on how to compensate the field of 47,500 registered runners, 40,000 of whom already arrived in the city for the race.
Wittenberg also refused to say if elite runners will be paid appearance fees despite the cancellation.
"We have a lot to work through," Wittenberg said. "We appreciate the investment athletes have put into training for New York. As always we'll be sure to be fair. I think everyone knows and will expect that of us."
Deborah Rose, a Staten Island City Council member, expressed support behind the decision to cancel the race, saying relief and rebuilding efforts should come first.
Rose also called on participants to marathoners to go to Staten Island to help with the cleanup effort and to bring clothes and other relief goods to people temporarily living in shelters.
As thousands still shivered from Sandy, the New York City Marathon was canceled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg after mounting criticism that this was not the time for a race
New York Cancels Marathon for First Time Due to Sandy
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