In a press conference Thursday afternoon, New York City Marathon race director Mary Wittenberg announced the Race to Recover Marathon Fund to help with Superstorm Sandy relief efforts. Already, the initiative has raised $2.6 millions, with $1 million coming from NYRR, another $1.1 million from Jack and Susan Rudin and the Rudin Family Foundations, and a $500,000 gift from title sponsor ING.
"NYRR's thoughts and prayers go out to all of those impacted by the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy," said Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of NYRR. "On Sunday, as runners cross the five boroughs, we want them to bring with them a sense of hope and resilience. The marathon is not just a race-it's about helping NYC find its way on the road to recovery."
Wittenberg also announced that the course of Sunday's race will remain as originally planned while transportation alternatives to get runners to the start line on Staten Island would be announced Friday (although a bus alternative has already been made public). Race officials expect a total of runners somewhere "in the high [30,000s]," well short of the 47,500 from a year ago.
Wittenberg and fellow organizers are not deaf to the criticism holding the marathon is receiving, calling Mayor Bloomberg's decision "a bold move, a move that does not come without controversy."
But, she speculated, "if the city had made a decision to cancel this race, there would have been just as big a controversy." [NYRR chairman of the board of directors George] Hirsch ventured, "I guarantee you, by Sunday, when Race to Recover is completed " -- he was making the title of the charity the title of the marathon -- "there will be no discussion or misgivings or controversy over whether the race should have taken place."