Skip to main content

NY Marathon 'was going to be divisive,' says deputy mayor of cancellation

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:07 PM EDT, Sat November 3, 2012
Friends and members of the Puglia family sift through the remains of their missing home for valuables on November 6, 2012, after Hurricane Sandy hit Staten Island, New York. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/29/us/gallery/ny-braces-sandy/index.html'>View photos of New York preparing for Sandy.</a> Friends and members of the Puglia family sift through the remains of their missing home for valuables on November 6, 2012, after Hurricane Sandy hit Staten Island, New York. View photos of New York preparing for Sandy.
HIDE CAPTION
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
New York recovers from Sandy
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some "found the marathon -- the very idea of it -- to be painful," the deputy mayor says
  • The race organizer says she was concerned about animosity toward runners
  • Social media posts applaud the decision to cancel the race
  • The 26.2-mile course typically winds across New York's five boroughs

New York (CNN) -- The New York City Marathon -- scheduled for Sunday -- was canceled Friday amid burgeoning criticism as the area recovers from the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy, city and race officials said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg had said earlier in the week the race would go on -- despite transportation, power and other issues -- contending, among other things, that businesses could use the economic boost the event provides.

But on Friday, he and the race's organizer issued a joint statement saying they'd decided to cancel the race because they did "not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants."

"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 statement said.

Runner: Canceling marathon a 'lose-lose'
NYC Marathon canceled

"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."

In the end, marathon didn't feel right

The announcement was widely applauded on social media with Twitter posts such as, "Finally...Marathon Cancelled! After Days of Pressure, #Marathon Is Off."

In a Friday evening press conference, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson elaborated on the cancellation of an event he said is traditionally "one of the very best days in the city, a moment of unity ... and joy." Yet the growing criticism of the race weighed on officials, including the sense that some New Yorkers "found the marathon -- the very idea of it -- to be painful."

"It was clear that this was not going to be a celebration of New York. It was going to be a divisive, difficult day," Wolfson said. "That's not what anybody wanted."

Mary Wittenberg, the CEO of the New York Road Runners, said one factor in the decision to nix this year's race was what she saw as an emerging "animosity toward the runners."

"We became concerned that ... no runner -- the best in the world or somebody hoping to finish -- was going to receive the welcome that we thought they'd receive," Wittenberg said.

Officials have been meeting for days to discuss what to do about the marathon, with a number of options being considered. These included postponing the race a few weeks, altering the course, having a shorter 10-mile event, or even having a marathon just for the elite runners that had come to New York.

Crippled NY subways spark infrastructure, climate questions

But Wittenberg said the decision was made to cancel this year's race entirely, cognizant of the real-life strains on volunteers and that many participants had planned everything around a November 4 race date.

While there has been significant progress since Sandy, large swaths of the city remained without power Friday and public transit options remain limited.

First held in 1970, the New York City Marathon attracts about 47,000 runners and 12,000 volunteers -- not to mention an estimated 2.5 million spectators who annually line the course, which goes through all five city boroughs.

The race had been scheduled to begin Sunday morning on Staten Island, where runners would have crossed the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge into Brooklyn and run through Queens before crossing the 59th Street Bridge into Manhattan and the Bronx.

But the 26.2-mile course does not include lower Manhattan, where heavy flooding left many neighborhoods in the dark.

Even with the travel woes caused by Sandy, about 40,000 runners were expected to run this year's marathon, according to Wittenberg. In addition to promising them places in the 2013 race, she apologized to them for the cancellation.

"We are really sorry to the runners who have come from around the world," Wittenberg said. "We ask for their patience and understanding."

Health risks after Sandy

CNN's Eden Pontz, Chris Kokenes, Deborah Feyerick and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
CNN recommends
updated 8:17 AM EST, Mon November 5, 2012
A mother learns that her newborn is part of a hospital evacuation. Facebook posts from a member of the HMS Bounty turn ominous. A man worries about the wind and rain, but another force of nature hits home.
updated 4:19 AM EST, Thu November 8, 2012
President Barack Obama faces a lengthy and familiar set of challenges after riding a wave of support from moderates, women and minorities to a re-election victory.
updated 2:24 PM EST, Wed November 7, 2012
In a historic turnaround, the ballot box is showing America's shifting attitudes about same-sex marriage. The rights passed in at least two states.
updated 9:42 PM EST, Mon November 5, 2012
How far are consumers willing to go in their quest for homegrown goods? The answer might surprise you.
updated 1:03 PM EST, Tue November 6, 2012
For all of its expected action and drama, the new "Halo 4" boils down to an essential question: Are its central characters humans, machines or something in between?
updated 3:37 PM EST, Tue November 6, 2012
Lakota warrior Crazy Horse has long been a controversial figure, so perhaps it's only appropriate that his memorial follow suit.
updated 2:18 PM EST, Sun November 11, 2012
It may be one of the most-quoted lines in American literature -- and if you dare to quote it, you might have to pay.
updated 10:02 AM EST, Wed November 7, 2012
While the U.S. presidential election dominated coverage, news from across the world certainly hasn't stopped.
updated 1:05 PM EDT, Thu September 20, 2012
For their extraordinary efforts to help change the world and better the lives of others, 10 everyday people will receive $50,000 to continue their work.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT