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New York Marathon

04/11/2012

John Green was amongst the 40,000 runners disappointed at the cancellation of the New York Marathon...

"On Sunday the 28th of October, Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on the Eastern seaboard and was predicted to hit land on Monday night, all Monday and Tuesday flights (which included mine) into New York were cancelled. There was still a chance that the hurricane might have gone out to sea or that the damage would be limited, so I re-booked a flight for Thursday.

When the storm hit, I was convinced that the flight wasn't going to happen as Newark Airport had no power and both Staten Island and Lower Manhattan were severely damaged by floods. On Wednesday, Newark started a limited service - a flight left Newark for Edinburgh and I was scheduled to go on the return. Mayor Bloomberg said the marathon was going to go ahead, as a sign that New York would bounce back; it was going to be the "race to recover". When we arrived in Newark we were the only passengers going through customs.

I was staying in Chatham, New Jersey, which is about a 25 minute drive from the airport. The drive to the house showed the extensive damage to power lines houses and trees, so doubts about the race going ahead set in.

The next day, Friday, we drove to Manhattan as buses and trains were still a long way from operational. Going through Times Square with neon signs blazing away, I was amazed how busy it was. Runners were picking their way through the crowd and a group of about 30 runners from a French club were warming up to be taken on a guided run. I headed down to the expo where thousands upon thousands of runners were registering for their numbers and chips. For the first time I felt I was going to run the New York marathon. I collected my number and headed back across to New Jersey, arriving there around 3:00pm.

By 6:00pm however, the race had been cancelled - only 36 hours before the start. We now had electricity but no cable (phone/internet and television) so I hadn't seen the TV images or heard about the growing anger around the marathon going ahead. There was upset that there were generators being used to provide power for the marathon instead of to houses, while water and energy drinks were being stockpiled for the runners whereas people from Staten Island had nothing. I do agree that they made the right decision in cancelling the race, although it was perhaps two days too late. I was also aggrieved that the Giants v Steelers game went ahead on the same day, and whilst 60,000 football fans were tucking into beer and hotdogs, many of the 40,000 runners volunteered to help with the clean up."

John Green

 

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