In a joint statement from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of New York Road Runners, it was announced late Friday afternoon that the 2012 ING New York City Marathon has been cancelled.
“Earlier this week, we sat down with the Mayor and decided that the ING New York City Marathon would be an amazing opportunity to honor the city, embrace those hurt and lost in the storms, and help the city move forward,” said Wittenberg at a press conference. “From the earliest days this week, the Marathon had ceased to be about running and was all about how best to aid New York City. Today it is my job to say there will not be a 2012 ING New York City Marathon.”
Many of the race’s assets, including blankets, food, port-o-johns, and generators, will be diverted to relief efforts, and NYRR’s “Race to Recover” campaign, which has raised $2.6 million since it was announced on Thursday, will move forward.
Calling the Marathon the only event in New York City that traditionally has no dissenters, Michael Wolfson, deputy mayor for government affairs and communications, said that the controversy that has grown since Hurricane Sandy battered the city and region on Monday had become a distraction to relief efforts.
“Those of us who love the city and those of us who love this race recognize that it wasn't Marathon if it wasn't a unifying event,” he said. “It wasn’t the Marathon that we knew and loved if there were people pained by the running of it.”
Wittenberg said that many alternatives were considered, including a modified course: Staten Island, where the race begins, has faced a worsening toll of damage and deaths as the week wore on.
Among the other alternatives considered were conducting a marathon for the professional athletes only, or having a 10-mile race for all registered runners.
“The Marathon is a five-borough race,” said Wolfson. “It unifies everybody, and a 10-mile race unfortunately is not the Marathon, and we thought it was better to cancel and have a great Marathon next year than have some sort of truncated version this year.”
Wittenberg expressed gratitude to the many runners who had already arrived in New York for the race.
“This is not an easy decision to make, she said, “but we really want to thank those runners from around the world that want to give back to New York City. We appreciate that they came.”
Photo (from left): Howard Wolfson; Mary Wittenberg; George Hirsch (chairman NYRR board of directors) at press conference.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg