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NY Marathon Canceled? Tell That To The Runners

Never mind the cancellation. Here comes the marathon.

 Large groups of joggers run through Centeral Park on Sunday, the day the NY Marathon was to be held.
Large groups of joggers run through Centeral Park on Sunday, the day the NY Marathon was to be held. (Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

Thousands of runners are pouring into New York City’s Central Park to do what they planned to do along — run 26.2 miles. That’s despite the official marathon being canceled Friday evening because damage from the superstorm.

Teams of runners from Italy, Germany, Spain and elsewhere started dashing into the park shortly after dawn to put together their own personal marathons. A little more than four laps around the park will do it.

It’s a throwback to the very beginning of New York’s marathon, which was run inside the park.

The organizer of one group called Run Anyway, Lance Svendsen, says, “A lot of people just want to finish what they’ve started.”

Many runners were finding a way to volunteer for storm victims. On the steps of a statue just outside the park at Columbus Circle, a newly created grassroots group called Run4All was collecting donations in cardboard boxes.

“A lot of people brought extra clothes,” said Gabriella Moreno, 23, from Mexico. She was amazed by the waves of runners but understood.

“If you’ve shaped your life around something for so long, what’s stopping you?” she said.

On Staten Island, the runners with backpacks emerged from the ferry for a quick briefing.

Staten Island resident Jonscott Turco gave instructions. “The devastation and damage you are about to wander into … ” He paused, almost teary. “It’s pretty extraordinary. The only thing I can prepare you for is they’re still finding people, remains.”

He told the runners that some people were grateful they were there but might not react very nicely.

They set off. “I’m a little nervous that they’re going to be like, ‘Who the hell are you?’” said runner Danielle Jakob.

The landscape worsened as they approached the waterfront. Shuttered gas stations. Long gas lines, with people asleep in their cars.

One man honked and yelled, “There’s no marathon! Go home!” But people standing outside one deli yelled encouragement: “Thank you, ladies!” ”God is good”"

Near the water, there were no traffic lights and far more sirens. Houses looked like they had been sacked. Furniture was in front yards, washing machines, TVs.

But one guy came out of his home and asked if the runners had flashlights, and they did. At another house, a family wearing face masks asked for batteries and sweatshirts. They said, “God bless you.” The man said, “Let me take your picture.”

For runner Hana Abdo, the whole scene was striking. When she found out the marathon had been cancelled, “I was almost in tears because I’ve been training for two years,” she said.

“But what is two years of my life to somebody’s whole life?”

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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