Update: Mayor Bloomberg Friday afternoon called off the marathon. Our friend Danny, mentioned in the post below, managed to get off his plane before takeoff. He stayed in Dallas and ran the Dallas Running Club Half instead. In a heartwarming turn of events, runners from around the globe who had already landed in The Big Apple made the most of their marathon training by lending a hand to Sandy’s victims, “carrying garbage bags and backpacks full of donated supplies ranging from blankets to Home Depot gift cards that they brought to the destroyed homes of Staten Island residents,” according to Time.

New York City is in tatters and locals, including Matt Lauer, seem generally unhappy about the fact that the biggest tourist draw of the year, the NYC Marathon, is still set to take place. A few Dallas runners are making the trip, saying that as long as the race is on, they plan to be there.

Preparation for this particular marathon is painstaking and often goes beyond training to run 26.2. It is tough to gain entry and hopefuls can only get in by lottery, qualifying with an exceptionally fast race time, or raising $2,000 for a charity. That means many runners from around the world do a large amount of fundraising in the year leading up to the race.

White Rock Running Co-op and Dallas Running Club member Danny Hardeman, for instance, raised some $4,400 for Voices Against Brain Cancer, in honor of a friend running partner who succumbed to the disease.

John Killian, who we wrote about back in 2009, uses his annual running of the NYC Marathon as a vehicle to raise funds for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy for his 10-year-old son Sam, who suffers from the degenerative disease. John, accompanied by Sam, spoke on the radio yesterday about his choice to run despite Sandy, indicating that he was following the lead of the city’s decision-makers and leaders when it came to participating in the marathon.

I was in touch with Lakewood Heights resident Stephen Cohn right before he caught his flight to NYC. He says that while he was conflicted about running, he found the idea of canceling tough after investing so much time in preparation. “Once the mayor announced his support for the race,” he says, “I was committed to it as well.”

One of the hardest-hit places, Staten Island, serves as the starting line for the 45,000 marathon runners. I’m afraid the people of this small borough — who have recovered 19 dead bodies so far including two small children and who are still reportedly pulling bodies from the debris — aren’t going to welcome the masses of runners, port-a-potties and marathon staffers and volunteers. I feel for the people I know who are there for the marathon, because I know guys like Danny, John and Stephen, mentioned above, will be badly torn about all that is going on.

Supporters of the race’s continuation cite the event’s massive fundraising power — $34 million to charities last year — and the economic boom it brings to the city. However, if hotels are flood-damaged and subways are closed, the city could have a tough time accommodating the runners from our neighborhood and thousands of their fellow athletes.  It will be interesting to see, as Lauer pointed out, come Monday, how New Yorkers and travelers will be viewing the marathon idea.


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