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November 8, 2012

What to do when your marathon is canceled

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last week, the New York City Marathon suddenly became a controversial endeavor.

Initially, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the marathon would go on despite the struggles of parts of the city to recover from the flooding and power outages caused by the storm. But the onslaught of negative publicity via social media and public pressure caused Bloomberg to reverse that decision and cancel the marathon Friday night, just two days before 40,000 runners were going to make their way through the city’s five boroughs.

Ultimately, it was the right call. Resources were already stretched thin because of the storm, and there were still many city residents without power, food or clean water. Admirably, New York Road Runners turned its attention to the recovery effort, deploying its volunteers (as well as many runners who would have run the marathon) to help out wherever needed. Meanwhile, runners wait to hear whether they’ll be able to run NYC next year.

The NYC Marathon is a great race. I’ve done it twice, and it’s a truly glorious experience, starting in Staten Island and making its way through the entire city before finishing in Central Park. It’s a big event, and no doubt the folks who were going to run it last weekend are disappointed. But they don’t have to let all the months of training go to waste.

The sold-out Philadelphia Marathon, which takes place Nov. 18, announced this week that it’s opening up 3,000 lottery spaces for registered NYC Marathon runners. In addition, 350 NYC runners were able to sign up for Philly using charity numbers. Other marathons are taking advantage of the post-NYC influx of runners: The Harrisburg Marathon, Richmond Marathon, Pensacola Marathon and Malibu International Marathon all take place in the next few weeks and offer a potential replacement for NYC. A visit to MarathonGuide.com reveals plenty of other races to choose from, as well.

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