The New York Road Runners has begun the process of determining whether or not they can still hold the 2012 New York City Marathon this weekend after the damage from Sandy. While they remain optimistic, city officials do not seem as positive.
It's Tuesday, which means New York City (and the entire East Coast) is seeing in daylight for the first time the damage that Sandy has wrought. The destruction is in the billions of dollars, with massive flooding and major power loss left in the storm's wake. As clean up begins in New York, tens of thousands of runners (and their families) are wondering if the 2012 New York City Marathon will still be held as scheduled.
The first official word from New York Road Runners came Monday -- before the storm hit -- when race director Mary Wittenberg said, "From an operations schedule, we remain extremely confident that we're going to have an amazing weekend." And that optimism was still echoed on Tuesday by Richard Finn, a spokesman for NYRR:
"We're assessing today with the city what the damage was and the ability to recover as quickly as possible. The New York Road Runners is moving ahead with everything we can do to be on the way to putting on a great marathon this Sunday."
But Tuesday's press conference by Mayor Michael Bloomberg didn't paint such an positive picture. Many of the city's Subway stations were flooded Monday night, and it could be "four to five days" before the MTA is back in service. Which means there is a chance the Subway will not be functioning by Sunday morning, when some 47,000 runners will rely on it to get them to and from the start and finish lines.
MTA's Joe Lhota also spoke on Tuesday, saying, "This is the worst damage we have ever seen to the MTA system." They won't have a specific timetable until after their "assessment."
Already though, the effects of Sandy are causing issues for the marathon. The race expo is planned to be held in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, but that sits in a flood zone and NYRR staff have not been able to get inside to begin readying for bib pick-up. Additionally, travel to New York has been heavily impacted, and made near impossible in some cases. There are 20,000 runners coming from international locations, but with nearly 6,000 flights already canceled, many likely will not be able to make it to the start line.
Many runners will have a hard time even arriving in New York. Mary Wittenberg, chief executive of Road Runners, said in a conference call Monday that an elite runner from Italy rerouted his flight to Miami and, weather permitting, to Hartford. Kenyan runners who typically arrive on the Tuesday before the race face delays as well.
To help ease travel woes, NYRR has extended the deferment date from Wednesday to Saturday, giving runners a precious few extra days to determine if they want to forfeit their spot in this year's race for a guaranteed entry in 2013 (an additional entry fee will still be required).