Storm Sandy: New York marathon cancelled after protests


BBC's Steve Kingstone: "A street re-made by a vicious act of nature'

This year's New York City marathon has been cancelled in the aftermath of the super storm Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced.

In a statement, he said: "We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it."

Plans to press ahead with Sunday's event had prompted widespread anger in cyclone-ravaged parts of the city.

Ninety-six US deaths, 40 of them in New York, have been blamed on Sandy.

The storm had already killed 69 people as it swept across the Caribbean.

Across the US East Coast, some 3.5 million homes and businesses - 1.2 million in New York state alone - still have no electricity, four days after the storm made landfall.

Petrol shortages have also caused forecourt confrontations from New Jersey to Connecticut - one motorist was arrested after pulling a gun during an argument at a petrol queue.

In a bid to ease the fuel crunch on Friday, the US waived a law that normally bans foreign oil tankers from entering its north-eastern ports.

The Obama administration also ordered the purchase of up to 12m gallons (45m litres) of petrol and up to 10m gallons of diesel for areas affected by Sandy.

On Friday evening, musicians including Bruce Springsteen, Christina Aguilera and Billy Joel performed in an hour-long televised benefit for those affected by the storm.

New York marathon runner: ''We are very angry.... (they should have) cancelled it before we came''

Staten Island's anger

Mayor Bloomberg had previously insisted that the marathon would go ahead and would "give people something to cheer about".

But in his statement, he said that while hosting the event would not, as critics had said, divert resources from the recovery effort, "it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division".

"We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event - even one as meaningful as this - to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track," he said.

Food, blankets, portable toilets, generators and other items originally intended for the race are being donated by the organisers to storm-hit areas of the city.

The New York marathon is the largest in the world, with than 47,000 runners - about 20,000 of them from overseas - registered to take part this year.

It had been due to start in Staten Island, the hardest-hit part of the city, where 19 people died as a result of Sandy.

But before the race was cancelled, US Representative Michael Grimm, whose district covers the island, told CNN: "We're still pulling bodies out of the water and the mayor is worried about marathon runners and returning to life as normal."

Other local politicians, Republicans and Democrats, had also demanded the race be stopped.

Anger has also been rising in Staten Island at delays in bringing aid, as residents pick through the debris of their storm-pummelled homes.

Sandy swamped the low-lying borough with record tidal surges, sweeping entire houses off their foundations.

The bodies of two boys, aged two and four, who were torn from their mothers' arms by rushing floodwaters, were recovered in a Staten Island marsh on Thursday.

Time-lapse footage shows Sandy's passage over New York City - Footage courtesy New York Times/ Antoine Roux

Earlier, some runners who had signed up for the race told local website Gothamist they would instead volunteer on Staten Island. As the cancellation was announced, other runners said they would do the same.

However, some runners criticised the mayor's decision as having coming too late, after they had already arrived in the city.

"We spent thousands of dollars to bring our family here, paid for hotel rooms, airline tickets," said Terri Butler from Houston, Texas. "Cancel it before we come."

Meanwhile, New York utility company Consolidated Edison has announced it has begun restoring electricity to parts of lower Manhattan - including tens of thousands in the East Village and Lower East Side.

The firm says many in Manhattan will see electricity return by Saturday, and most of the city will be connected again by 11 November. But some customers could be without power for weeks.

New Jersey remains the hardest hit by outages, affecting 1.5m people.

In the city of Hoboken, on the banks of the Hudson river, the National Guard has been evacuating those stranded by floodwaters.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    My only quarel in this matter is thatt he marathon is being singled out when you have two NBA games, and an NFL match that will divert resources from the recovery as well and nobody seems to be outraged about that, when they should be called off or moved to another location.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    Mayor Bloomberg, your claim that needed resources for relief efforts weren't being used for the marathon doesn't hold water. And, to the little princess who is upset about not being able to run, I would say this: Too darned bad! You should be grateful to have shelter, food and other necessities while many others who live where you wanted to run do not. Grow up!

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    It surprises me how much damage the Americans allowed Sandy to make, and how long it's taking to recover

    My word, it amazes me how humanity has ever achieved its technological & evolutionary & humanitarian advances while carrying so much "dead wood".

    For the dumbos, this will take YEARS not days to fix, this is REAL life, not The Sims

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    It often seems like Humans are underestimating nature. These mega storms are becoming the norm. Global warming a myth? As long as we will live in denial, these storms will just get bigger and bigger. Yet none of the presidential hopeful has the courage to bring up the issue. As sad as it may be, you just got to prepare for worse then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    To the 'it should have been canceled' crowd....why do you need someone to tell you its canceled. THERE WAS A HURRICANE!!

    Are you really that STUPID.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    In a perfect world Bloomberg would have cancelled the marathon earlier, but lets face facts, the guy had a lot on his plate and so far has done a great job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    I understand the decision to postpone the race. Having said that, most of the outrage I saw seemed to be from the New York Sports Media, such as SNY, WFAN and ESPN RADIO 1050; all of whom decided to imposed their moral values on the situation. It's not their Job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    @73 JAMES H

    As an expat living in NJ for 7 years, I also lived in Kent in 1987 and experienced the gale that October. People here in NJ are dealing with a situation far more devastating than that. This has been horrific.

    I have just gained power and this is the first BBC article I have read. Sad to see that people use the opportunity to bash people in crisis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    As Sandy ripped its way along the Eastern Seaboard or should i say skirting it! Two scenarios!

    1 Turns right and goes into Atlantic,or.
    2 Keeps heading along Eastern Seaboard.

    By the time it passed Florida it seemed to me it was only going in one direction.How many days before it hit landfall was that?
    Being precautious on its arrival would have been a far better idea.Why wasnt it?BeOnSafeSide

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Catastrophe for the middle-classes - The woman in the video is "very angry", having spent thousands of dollars to bring her family, book airline tickets, etc.
    Have people lost all sense of perspective? Hundreds od people have lost everything. She can go back to her intact home!

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    It should have been cancelled last MONDAY. Pulling off last minute and blaming runners who came to NYC just don't make any sense. What an administration.

    Lot of NGO's need volunteers. New yorkers crying here, go do some volunteer work. I was shocked last week listening to NPR that NGO's are unable to find people to deliver food in high rise buildings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    93: What do you mean the charities don't have to lose out? How is that meant to work? I did a sponsored swim a couple of years back. If that had been cancelled for any reason then I wouldn't want to collect money that I hadn't earned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    There are two schools of thought on this. The obvious (and probably correct) one is that they don't need the hassle of thousands of runners hampering the clear up procedure. I still think though of the blitz spirit, when shops with windows blown out by bombs still were proud to state they were still open for business. I am proud to say New Yorkers showed that same spirit after 9.11.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Waterboarding on a massive scale, New York is left looking as if the Americans have invaded.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    To Rufus (80): IMF ranking of countries by GDP places USA at 6. Norway is the only other OECD country in top 6, at 4. Forgive my tardiness on that. The other 4 are not comparable with a fully fuctioning industrial economy. While your point about the level of US goverment debt is fair, its made out of context. My point is the US enjoys a standard of living most of the ROW can only dream of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    New York marathon runner: ''We are very angry.... (they should have) cancelled it before we came''

    Maybe if she banged her head against a wall hard enough she might achieve a spark to ignight her 1 disfunctional braincell & make an obvious assessment.

    Whats the betting she is a republican (maybe they should ask her) only a republican could be so selfish in such obvious circumstance

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Hurricane - cancel hotel reservations.

    Sometimes things don't go the way we would like in life. Grow up!

    I can only imagine the pandemonium on the streets of NY. Canceling the Marathon was the correct thing to do IMO. Add 40,000 runners amidst the chaos???????

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    It was right to cancel the race, and it should have been done much sooner.

    I saw on the TV news that charities could lose out because of the cancellation as runners had got people to sponsor them to run.

    No need for the charities to lose out, after all, if the charity is worthwhile to donate to if somebody does a run (often their hobby as well), then surely it is worthwhile regardless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Mixed emotions on this. On the one hand I have yet to hear from a friend in New York and I am more concerned for his safety than the marathon going ahead.

    On the other hand the bulk of the marathon runners are going to be charity runners. I know from personal experience that the training for that stuff takes a lot of effort. Now that effort has been wasted and the charities won't get any money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    The decision to run the race was right. The decision to cancel it is right.

    Those who can foretell the future can criticise the first decision.

    It surprises me how much damage the Americans allowed Sandy to make, and how long it's taking to recover.

    But then, it surprises me that they allowed the Pentagon computers to be hacked.


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