Facing mounting backlash over holding the New York City Marathon in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Friday that he has canceled this year’s race, despite his early assurances that no resources needed for those affected by the storm would be diverted. It marks the first time in the marathon’s 42-year history that it won’t be run.
“The Marathon has been an integral part of New York City’s life for 40 years and is an event tens of thousands of New Yorkers participate in and millions more watch. While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division,” Bloomberg said in a statement Friday evening. “The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination. We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it.”
Bloomberg had initially cited the marathon’s ability to pull the city together, such as in the time after 9/11, as a reason to let the race be run this year. But the growing backlash made canceling it seem almost inevitable. The move comes after more than 25,000 signed a petition against holding the race, believing that the city’s focus should be on recovery of devastated areas. In New York City alone, 41 people have died as a result of the storm and 549,000 still remain without power, according to Con Ed. Entire areas of the boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island remain decimated. Indeed, one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in Staten Island, South Beach, is located less than two miles from the marathon’s traditional starting point at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.