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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs