As New York battled to cope with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was adamant that the city’s marathon would still be going ahead on Sunday as planned.
The mayor said the event would give the Big Apple a chance “to show solidarity with one another,” while New York Road Runners president Mary Wittenberg declared that the marathon “really epitomises the spirit of New York City – the vitality, the tenacity, the determination of New Yorkers.”
It was fighting talk and reminded me of the 2001 New York marathon, which took place just seven weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
My husband ran that year in aid of Mencap and it was one of the most memorable, moving events of his life. On the Sunday morning, just before the race began, he was in the crowd when the then mayor, Rudy Guilliani, told the competitors: “Freedom is going to win.”
The band played God Bless America and the whole 26-mile route was lined with cheering spectators. Many of the runners were taking part in memory of loved ones who had died and my husband was moved to tears as he ran alongside competitors with photographs of friends and relations taped to their chests.
But tonight, with more than 69 people dead, the lower half of Manhattan still without power and many homes, schools and hospitals completely uninhabitable, the 2012 event was cancelled. It was a sad, but wise decision.