After hearing about the devastation and destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, I thought for sure the marathon would have been canceled. On Wednesday, I received an email from New York Road Runners stating this:
Following Wednesday's announcement by Mayor Bloomberg, the ING New York City Marathon will proceed on Sunday, November 4. This year's marathon is dedicated to the City of New York, the victims of the hurricane, and their families.
We're adjusting Marathon Day plans as a result of the storm's impact on our operations and resources. At every turn, we will be working to ensure that our planning doesn't affect any recovery efforts.
Even though I didn’t agree with the decision, I wanted to run in support of all the families and victims of this tragedy.
My flight got into LaGuardia Friday morning with no problems. I hopped right into a taxi, but getting into Manhattan was a different story. Every vehicle had to have 3 or more people, so traffic was backed up for miles while they inspected every car.
Once in the city, tour buses were running and people flooded the streets. It seemed like they city was back up and running as usual. My first task was to head to the Javits Convention Center to pick up my race packet. There were thousands of runners heading in the same direction as me and you could feel the excitement building.
After loading up with plenty of running gear, I headed back to the hotel to Skype with Karma for a package that was going to air during the 5 o’clock news. I talked about my trip into the city, what I saw and the feeling I got from the runners about this race after such a devastating event.
Only a few minutes after my conversation, the news broke that the marathon was canceled. I had so many mixed emotions at first. I didn’t understand why this decision wasn’t made immediately after learning about the devastation. Why did they have to wait until most of the runners were already there? I was shocked. I pulled myself together and came up with a plan. I was going to make the best of this trip. A friend and I decided we were going to head out the next morning and still run the 26.2 miles. Not only that, we also decided to lend a helping hand to the victims and volunteer our time.
We learned quickly the next morning that we weren’t the only runners with the same idea. Hundreds of runners were out with their orange NYC marathon shirts on running the 26.2 miles. As we ran through the streets of Central Park, we would high five the other runners and give them words of encouragement. It was such a positive experience. We ran by tents, hundreds of boxes and bleachers that were already set-up for the marathon.
We even took our picture under the 26 mile marker in Central Park.
That next morning we headed to Brooklyn, one of the hardest hit areas to volunteer. We threw our marathon shirts on, and we were ready to get our hands dirty. We made our way to the Red Hook area, where they had a food distribution site set-up. This area still had no power, no heat, and no running water. The line of people waiting for food was wrapped around the block. It was touching to see so many other runners also volunteering their time on what would have been marathon morning.
I believe everything happens for a reason. It was such an eye opening experience, and I wouldn’t have changed a single moment of it. My thoughts and prayers are still with the families and victims of this horrible event.