Declaring that “our whole focus now is on delivering an event that can aid in New York's recovery” from Hurricane Sandy, New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg emphasized Wednesday afternoon that preparations for Sunday’s ING New York City Marathon continue even as the organization and the City of New York remain in assessment mode.
“We will await official decision from the city,” said Wittenberg. “As Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg said last night, the hope is the marathon goes on. We will await confirmation that that will be the case as we work. Definitely the mayor's statement last night is the one that we should all continue to see as the best summary of where we are.
“To us the marathon really epitomizes the spirit of New York City, the vitality, the tenacity, the determination of New Yorkers, and now our every effort is to once again tell the world that … New York City, as the mayor would say, is open for business, and we welcome the support of the world at this trying time.”
Citing interest from runners, New Yorkers, and others who want to help the City in the aftermath of the storm, Wittenberg announced that the race has joined with one of its charity partners, Crowdrise, in the relief effort. Among the charities that will be supported through donations will be the Red Cross.
Among the plans proceeding on schedule is the opening of the ING New York City Marathon Health and Fitness Expo at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, where runners will pick up their race numbers. The convention center was in an evacuation zone, but expo setup resumed on Tuesday night.
The expo will extend its hours on Saturday as necessary to accommodate runners delayed by travel issues.
Wittenberg said that contingency plans as far as transportation, the course, supplies, and support are well under-way should they need to be implemented, including the possibility of hiring private contractors for some of the functions usually performed by the city. She also said that NYRR has, as of Wednesday, seen no spike in runner cancellations.
“I wouldn’t underestimate the creativity of people who want to run this event and their ability to get here,” she said.
Citing an economic impact estimated at $350 million, as well as the more-than $26 million raised for charity, Wittenberg added that “on top of sending the message to the world of the resiliency of New York City, those are the reasons this event is so important to New York City. Because of that we've always known that if it is possible to run the marathon, the marathon will run. If it's not, it won't.
“But I remain as confident as ever that the mayor will make the right decision for the city at this time, and that decision is solely in his hands.”
Photo by Kristine Smith