Bloomberg: Despite Protests, New York City Marathon Must Go On

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYC Marathon organizers ignore pleas to cancel race.

Martin Lel of Kenya raises his arms as he crosses the finish line in front of Mayor Michael Bloomberg to win the New York City Marathon on Nov. 2, 2003.

Martin Lel of Kenya raises his arms as he crosses the finish line in front of Mayor Michael Bloomberg to win the 2003 New York City Marathon.

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Update 11/2/12 5:15 p.m. EDT: According to NBC News, the New York City Marathon will not be run Sunday.

It's the one of the world's largest races and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the show must go on. But with many New Yorkers still suffering in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the city's decision to go on with the marathon on Sunday has been blasted from all angles.

Thursday, Bloomberg said "this city is a city where we have to go on," and the mayor noted that the marathon, with its more than 40,000 runners could be a healing event for the city. The same day the New York Road Runners announced the race would be dubbed the "Race to Recover," and that more than $1 million would be donated to charities benefiting hurricane victims. But critics far and wide say the city's decision to go through with the race is, at best, tasteless, and at worst, destructive.

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A change.org petition asking Bloomberg and NYRR CEO Mary Wittenberg to postpone the race until Spring 2013 has already gathered more than 20,000 signatures, and a Facebook page asking the city to cancel the marathon has more than 40,000 "likes."

"Police, fire and other emergency services should not be diverted to the Marathon during this time of crisis," the petition says.

Bloomberg says that, with most of Manhattan expected to regain power by Sunday, more police officers would be freed up to work the event, and that resources wouldn't be taken from the recovery effort.

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But Simon Ressner, a New York City Fire Department lieutenant told the New York Times that going on with the race would be insensitive.

"We're not going to show the world we're resilient, we're going to show them we're selfish," he told the paper. "There's a concrete example of why you need all the city resources available right now."

NYRR has already admitted there will be "substantial modifications to the logistics and operations of the race," and has asked for more volunteers to help run the race. They have changed their cancellation policy to allow for last-minute cancellations without penalty.

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But as lines for gas stations creep up near three hours, people in Staten Island go hungry, and many in the area remain powerless, public sentiment seems to be leaning towards postponing the race.

"This event is always a positive event and it should not be turned into a hugely negative drain on city resources. The potential effects can be devastating," the Change.org petition says. "New York City is not behind your decision."

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Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at jkoebler@usnews.com.


Updated 11/2/12 5:15 p.m.: This story has been updated from its original version.