- (Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)
Hundreds of disappointed NYC marathon runners still opted to run on Sunday even after Mayor Michael Bloomberg canceled the race but instead of running in the annual event, many volunteered to help hurricane victims by transporting supplies.
A group of approximately 1300 runners, who had previously planned to run alongside 40,000 others in the 26.2-mile marathon, instead boarded the Staten Island Ferry from Manhattan carrying garbage bags and backpacks filled with supplies to assist the hard-hit Staten Island where as many as 90,000 residents remain without power. A number of residents are also said to be homeless and so far approximately 20 deaths have been reported as a result of the hurricane, which devastated many parts of the east coast.
"I've run the marathon three times, and there was an odd familiarity getting on the Staten Island Ferry this morning with a group of runners for a completely different reason," New York runner Jon Bennion told CNN. "It was fascinating, the anxiety and jitters were replaced by an overwhelming sense of community."
Runners transported various donated supplies, ranging from blankets to Home Depot gift cards, to desperate victims. It is understood that the idea for runners to volunteer was crafted by Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports-medicine physician at New York City's Hospital for Special Surgery.
Groups were divided early Sunday to transport the donated goods to the worst parts of Staten Island. Metzl, who personally transported a large bag of batteries on foot, admitted that he was overwhelmed by the turnout.
"It is one of the most compelling things I've ever seen in my life," Metzl said. "Part of the myth of this whole thing was that runners were callous to the suffering and just wanted to run their marathon. Nothing could be further from the truth."
On Friday Bloomberg explained his decision to cancel the marathon, an event which attracts thousands of runners from around the world. His administration had initially received widespread backlash when he insisted on proceeding with the annual event just days after the hurricane hit.
"We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it,"Bloomberg said in a statement. "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."