New York runners get going

2012-11-04 07:58
Commuters wait in a long line to board a New York Waterway ferry bound for midtown Manhattan at the 14th Street pier in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Joe Epstein, AP)

Commuters wait in a long line to board a New York Waterway ferry bound for midtown Manhattan at the 14th Street pier in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Joe Epstein, AP)

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New York - Hundreds of runners in New York City are refusing to let a cancelled marathon spoil their Sunday plans and are channelling months of preparation into informal runs intended to benefit victims of superstorm Sandy.

Amid criticism from victims of Monday's storm that the race would divert resources away from efforts to help flood-ravaged parts of the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday abruptly cancelled Sunday's marathon. The event was expected to draw more than 40 000 runners to the city - including Kelly Rooney, a 31-year-old stay-at-home mother from Florida.

Rooney was at first irked that Bloomberg called off the marathon after insisting earlier in the week that it would go ahead in spite of Sandy, whose 130km/h winds and record surge of seawater devastated coastal communities and claimed at least 110 US lives.

Rooney travelled with her husband and 6-year-old daughter in tow, while her parents flew in from Mexico to cheer her on.

By Saturday afternoon Rooney was over her disappointment and looking forward to a charity run on hard-hit Staten Island that she had found advertised on the internet.

Running with dog food

On Sunday, Rooney will be running with a backpack full of dog food, cat food, batteries and some water donated by her hotel, the Ritz-Carlton across from Central Park.

"I truthfully at this point don't care if I run, I just want to give this stuff out," she said.

The idea for the Staten Island run came to 46-year-old Jordan Metzl, a doctor of sports medicine, and his running friends just as the debate was heating up last week about whether storm-battered New York City should hold a marathon.

He was discouraged that the running community was being perceived so negatively when it holds so many races to raise money for a variety of causes.

Metzl is expecting more than 500 runners to show up on Sunday at the Staten Island Ferry terminal in Manhattan, including participants from Germany and Italy. US rower Alison Cox, who won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, is also expected to participate.

Informal runs

The runners will take different routes across Staten Island and distribute supplies along the way.

Other informal runs will be held on Sunday that loop around Central Park, mimicking the original 1970 route of the New York City marathon.

Mindy Solkin, a running coach, already organised a five-mile run on Saturday that started at the marathon's finish line in Central Park.

She is now planning a run on Sunday called "The Ad Hoc Marathon." Solkin and fellow coaches from The Running Centre in Manhattan will be on hand at 09:00 with water and "power gels" to pass to runners.

Since Friday night, Solkin has also been scrambling to get some of the 50 runners she coaches registered in upcoming marathons in places such as Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Metzl, who has run 29 marathons in his life, said it would be pointless to let well-trained limbs go to waste.

"Initially we were just going to do a run to raise some money and then we thought, hey, we've got these legs that are ready to run 26 miles, why don't we actually run in Staten Island and get things that people need?" he said.

Read more on:    us  |  superstorm sandy  |  weather
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