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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs