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New York City Marathon threatened by aftermath of super storm Sandy

October 30, 2012|By Chuck Schilken
  • The Battery Park Underpass was completely flooded by super storm Sandy, which caused major damage to New York City and surrounding areas.
The Battery Park Underpass was completely flooded by super storm Sandy,… (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles…)

Even as super storm Sandy started to pummel New York City on Monday, New York City Marathon officials insisted the annual race would be able to go on as planned on Sunday.

But on Tuesday, the city looks anything but ready to host an event of such magnitude in only five days. The airports and public transportation are shut down, streets are flooded and power is out in many neighborhoods.

Marathon organizers promised an update Tuesday. New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg said Monday they had contingency plans in place to deal with any situation that might arise.

“We have time on our side," she said.

While the course through the five boroughs mostly avoids high-risk flood areas, transportation appears to be a major issue, with nearly 20,000 amateur international runners needing to get into the country and another 30,000 American participants having to find their way to the Staten Island starting line. In addition, family and friends of the runners will be seeking to get to their viewing spots and the finish line.

All of the above will be difficult or impossible if the airports, public transit and river crossings are still closed Sunday. As of Tuesday morning, it was unclear when any of those would reopen.

And while the marathon pours an estimated $350 million into the city each year, the event also requires major support from city departments that are currently being strained by Sandy.

But the running club, which organizes about 50 events a year, has dealt with such issues as heavy snow, lightning and security concerns in the past.

“We've been through close to it all,” Wittenberg said.

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