The New York City Marathon, that was slated to be still underway as of early Friday afternoon, has been officially canceled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as mounting criticism said that this was not the time for the race to go on while the region is still recovering from Superstorm Sandy. Though the mayor strongly said earlier that the race would help bring people closer together, many New Yorkers recoiled at the idea of police being assigned to protect a marathon on Sunday.
It was estimated that 40,000 runners from around the world would take part in an event that would have lasted 26.2 miles. Staten Island, that was one of the hardest-hit areas by the storm, would have been the starting point of the race. The mayor said in a statement that, ‘‘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.’’ Bloomberg continued as he called the marathon an ‘integral part of New York City’s life for 40 years’’ and ‘‘an event tens of thousands of New Yorkers participate in and millions more watch.’’
It seems more and more people were dead-set on the race being canceled and to have had it would have had many people up in arms. Joan Wacks, whose Staten Island waterfront condo was swamped with four-feet of water, called the Mayor “tone deaf” before he made the choice to cancel it. She said, “He is clueless without a paddle to the reality of what everyone else is dealing with. “If there are any resources being put toward the marathon, that’s wrong. I’m sorry, that’s wrong.” She also added: “We totally understand the public relations aspect, to show everyone survived. But this is not one of those times.”
Those who could not understand why the mayor was adamant on having the race, one reason would be that the New York Marathon generates an estimated $340 million into the city. Bloomberg said earlier this week that “It’s a great event for New York, and I think for those who were lost, you’ve got to believe they would want us to have an economy and have a city go on for those that they left behind,”
Social media, it has been said, wasn’t the reason that the mayor finally changed his mind about canceling the race. However, with so many people voicing their displeasure about the race going on, the decision had to be finally made. What many did not realize was that entry fees will be non-refundable and have to pay a new entry fee next year. Wittenberg had said earlier this week that anyone who wanted to cancel would be guaranteed a spot in next year’s marathon; however, would lose their entry fee from this season and have to pay a new entry fee next year. This year’s fee ranged from $216 to $347 for non-U.S. residents. Also, according to the instructions for the application, it says, “entry fees are non-refundable and non-transferable under any and all circumstances, including, but not limited to, cancellation of the event or of your participation.”
Whether an exception will be made is unclear but according to the application instructions, none technically need to be made. Wittenberg, who has been in charge of the race since 2005, did apologize to runners. “We want to tell them we’re sorry, and we ask for their understanding. “All somebody has to do is turn on the television, and we’ll have their understanding.”