News / USA

Marathoners Disappointed, But Understanding of New York Cancellation

Dressed to run, people pose for photos at the finish line for the 2012 New York Marathon, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 in New York’s Central Park.Dressed to run, people pose for photos at the finish line for the 2012 New York Marathon, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 in New York’s Central Park.
x
Dressed to run, people pose for photos at the finish line for the 2012 New York Marathon, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 in New York’s Central Park.
Dressed to run, people pose for photos at the finish line for the 2012 New York Marathon, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 in New York’s Central Park.
Margaret Besheer

Runners hoping to compete in the 43rd New York City Marathon were very disappointed to have the city cancel the race less than 48 hours before it was to take place, but on Saturday they expressed understanding that the time was not right as many city residents struggle to recover from the deadly and destructive superstorm Sandy.

In 2010, Ethiopian runner Gebre Gebremariam won the New York City Marathon with a time of 2 hours 8 minutes 14 seconds. He was looking forward to running again this year, hoping to reclaim his title, lost last year to Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai. But he said he understood why the mayor had decided to cancel the race which was to take place this Sunday and follow a 42-kilometer course through all of New York's five boroughs.

“It's the right decision. We saw the damage. We saw that people are without homes, they lost their lives, they lost their homes, they lost their businesses, and we are part of them," he said.

Moroccan Abderrahime Bouramdane, who finished fifth in the 2008 and 2009 marathons and tenth in 2010, said he understood the cancellation, but felt that the city should have made the decision earlier in the week to spare the approximately 20,000 runners who come from abroad from expensive and lengthy travel.

“I said it's Friday night, it's too late to make the change and cancel the race, not for only me [but] for all people and all athletes, coming to run, [and] people running for fun," he said.

Somali-born American runner Abdi Abdirahman, who also competed at the 2012 London Olympics, said the main thing is that the people of New York recover. He said events this week would not deter him from coming back to run in the 2013 marathon.

“I will, definitely, I will come back next year and run. And it's going to be better than ever. I think the New York Road Runners is a first class organization and they do more than just a race, I think that they are part of New York and they will come back stronger than ever," he said.

Ethiopian Gebremariam, who perhaps got his start as an endurance runner walking 20 kilometers roundtrip each day to school, said he hopes people will learn from superstorm Sandy about the dangers of climate change.

“This is not a natural problem, this is a manmade problem, it is coming from the climate change - people damage their trees, the people they damage their ice [glaciers] and everything, and it is coming through," he said.

Professional athletes such as these men are known as “elites” in the running world. At the New York Marathon many of the top competitors come from Africa, with Kenyan and Ethiopian male and female runners winning or finishing in the top five for at least the last five years.

The elites train intensively, running twice a day and covering some 200 kilometers each week. They typically run two marathons a year, which have lucrative prize money, so for them, the cancellation of the marathon can mean the loss of as much as $200,000 for a first place finish.

But it is also costly and disappointing to the amateur runners who have come from all over the United States and across the world to run, for what is for many of them, a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Mexican runner Gerardo said he trained for over a year and only found out the race was canceled when his flight arrived in New York on Friday. But he was stoic about the situation.

"We came from Monterray Mexico, and we had the same situation two years ago from Hurricane Alex and we understand that there is a lot of pain here. Yes, it is very difficult for the people, we understand that," he said.

Canceling the race will also have economic implications for the city, which makes around $340 million in spending from the some 40,000 runners - many who come from outside New York and use the city's hotels, restaurants, shops and transportation.

After Sandy hit, the mayor said the race would go on, but changed his mind after widespread anger over the decision. Irate New Yorkers said it was inappropriate after so many had died and feared the race would divert important resources from the recovery effort.

And that recovery effort continued on Saturday. The marathon organizers said they are donating blankets, water and $1 million to the relief effort.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said 80 percent of the subway system is back up and running, power has returned to most of Manhattan and the military is helping to move millions of gallons of fuel to the area to help alleviate the sudden gasoline shortage.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More