New York City Marathon canceled

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New York City Marathon canceled

NEW YORK Under growing pressure as thousands still shivered from Sandy, the New York City Marathon was canceled Friday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg after mounting criticism that this was not the time for a race.

With people in storm-ravaged areas shivering without electricity and the death toll in the city at more than 40, many New Yorkers recoiled at the prospect of police officers being assigned to protect a marathon, storm victims being evicted from hotels to make way for runners, and big generators humming along at the finish-line tents in Central Park.

Around 47,500 runners from around the globe had been expected to take part in the 26.2-mile event Sunday, with more than 1 million spectators usually lining the route for the world's largest marathon. The race had been scheduled to start in Staten Island, one of the storm's hardest-hit places.

Bloomberg had pressed ahead with plans run the marathon on schedule, but opposition intensified quickly Friday afternoon from the city controller, Manhattan borough president and sanitation workers.

Finally, the mayor backed down about three hours later.

"We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it," Bloomberg said in a statement. "We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event even one as meaningful as this to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track."

The cancellation means there won't be another NYC Marathon until next year.

Bloomberg called the marathon an "integral part of New York City's life for 40 years" and "an event tens of thousands of New Yorkers participate in and millions more watch."

He still insisted that holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, but understood the level of friction.

"It is clear it that it has become the source of controversy and division," Bloomberg said. "The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination.

Bloomberg's decision came just a day after he appealed to the grit and resiliency of New Yorkers, saying "This city is a city where we have to go on."

The nationally televised race that winds through the city's five boroughs and has been held annually since 1970 it was held in 2001, about two months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Mary Wittenberg, president of the organizing New York Road Runners, said it was the right move to cancel.

"This is what we need to do and the right thing at this time," she said.

"It's been a week where we worked very closely with the mayor's office and felt very strongly, both of us together, that on Tuesday it seemed that the best thing for New York on Sunday would be moving forward. As the days went on, just today it got to the point where that was no longer the case."

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association the police department's largest union called the decision to cancel the marathon "a wise choice."

Wittenberg said about 10,000 runners were expected to drop out after the storm arrived.

As of now, NYRR is sticking to its policy of no refunds for the runners, but will guarantee entry to next year's marathon. But Wittenberg said they will review that stance.

Eric Jones said he was part of a group from the Netherlands that collected 1.5 million to donate to a children's cancer charity if the runners competed.

"We understand, but maybe the decision could have been made earlier, before we traveled this far," said Jones, whose group came to New York a day earlier.

Steve Brune, a Manhattan entrepreneur, was set to run his fourth NYC Marathon.

"I'm disappointed, but I can understand why it's more important to use our resources for those who have lost a lot," he said.

Brune said he thinks foreign runners who traveled for the race will be even more disappointed.

"When you have a significant amount of people voicing real pain and unhappiness over its running, you have to hear that. You have to take that into consideration," said Howard Wolfson, deputy mayor for government affairs and communications.

"Something that is such a celebration of the best of New York can't become divisive. That is not good for the city now as we try to complete our recovery effort, and it is not good for the marathon in the long run," he said.

Earlier in the day, race preparations seemed under way as normal.

White tents where the runners would meet were already erected. Plastic crates lined the park's wall for two blocks, with tangles of electric wires and other setup equipment where workers buzzed around. A few TV news crews set up camp.

Along the race route in Queens, a couple of marathon banners hung from street lamps.

In Brooklyn, the effects of the storm were more apparent. One gas station had a long line of cars extending down the block. Another had dozens of people standing on the sidewalk, clutching red fuel cans.

At the midtown New Yorker Hotel, the lobby was filled with anguished runners, some crying and others with puffy eyes. In one corner, a group of Italian runners watched the news with blank looks.

"I have no words," said Roberto Dell'Olmo, from Vercelli, Italy. Then later: "I would like that the money I give from the marathon goes to victims."

Gisela Clausen, of Munich, told her fellow runners about the cancellation as they walked in.

"You don't understand. We spend a year on this. We don't eat what we want. We don't drink what we want. And we're on the streets for hours. We live for this marathon, but we understand," she said.

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Associated Press writers Verena Dobnik, Michael Rubinkam and Cara Ana in New York contributed to this report.

Blakely: Game 4 loss shows just how much Celtics miss Isaiah

Blakely: Game 4 loss shows just how much Celtics miss Isaiah

CLEVELAND --  Down the stretch in Game 4, the Celtics were desperate for someone, anyone, who could slow down Kyrie Irving.
 
But short of that, Boston could have used an offensive closer, too. You know, someone like Isaiah Thomas.

GAME 4: CAVS 112, CELTICS 99

 

The Celtics have relied on the two-time All-Star to carry much of the offensive burden this season, but he was almost always at his best in the fourth quarter.
 
A right hip injury knocked him out of this series after 1 1/2 games. Still, Boston managed to win Game 3 without him and, for large chunks of Tuesday night, seemed poised to beat the Cavs again on their home floor.
 
But as much as Game 4 was a reminder of just how special a talent Irving is (42 points, 21 in the third quarter when the game’s momentum swung in Cleveland's favor), it also provided a clue to the clueless who thought the Celtics were actually better without Isaiah Thomas.
 
Defensively?
 
Absolutely.
 
It’s no secret that teams go to great lengths to try and use his 5-foot-9 stature against him. And as we have seen, the deeper we get into the postseason the more trouble he and the Celtics seem to encounter from a defensive standpoint.
 
But just as we praise Irving for being such a special talent, Thomas has shown that he, too, has offensive gifts that, throughout this season, have left many fans, media and defenders befuddled as to how “the little fella” keeps coming up with one big play, one big shot after another.
 
But as we have learned, he has been dealing with a sore right hip injury for several weeks. The pain and discomfort eventually became too much to bear and so the Celtics did the right thing and shut him down.
 
Without him, the C's are still a good team that on any given night can knock off anyone, even the defending champs.
 
But as Game 4 reminded us, they need Thomas in order to be their best.
 
When Irving torched Boston’s entire defense with jumpers, ankle-breaking crossovers, Euro-step lay-ups and free throws, the Celtics had no one to turn to who could maybe, just maybe, go back at Irving at the other end of the floor.
 
That's what Thomas does that makes him such a special, unique talent in this league.
 
He can score in a variety of ways, with the best in the NBA.
 
We saw that this past season, when he led all players in the Eastern Conference in scoring with a 28.9 points-per-game average.
 
Boston’s excellent ball movement and high assist numbers are certainly important to the team’s success. But to make a deep and meaningful playoff run, you need one or two guys who can just go get buckets regardless of what the opponent does defensively.
 
That’s not Avery Bradley.
 
That’s not Al Horford.
 
That’s not Kelly Olynyk.
 
You can search, poke and prod this roster all you want, and you'll come up empty when it comes to finding a player like that . . . other than Isaiah Thomas.
 
The fact the Celtics were able to avoid getting swept is a victory of sorts in itself. Boston’s coaching staff, as well as the front office, has repeatedly said that as talented as their team is, they aren’t on the same level of the defending champion Cavaliers.
 
And yet here we are four games into this series and the Celtics are basically a bad half of basketball away from being tied, 2-2.
 
It says a lot about their mental toughness, their ability to handle and navigate past adversity to give themselves a chance to be competitive against any team -- including the Cavs.
 
But their success this season has always been about the collective group, regardless of how many late-game shots Isaiah Thomas knocks down.
 
And while he has his shortcomings defensively, not having him available is going to hurt them in those late-game moments when they need a closer. It’s not a coincidence the Celtics were just 2-4 when he didn’t play during the regular season.
 
So as cool as it was for them to win Game 3 without Thomas, he’s still the straw that stirs the Celtics emotionally, bringing them to levels few think they're capable of reaching.
 
They were able to get by for one night without him, but remember this: It took Marcus Smart having an Isaiah Thomas-like game of 27 points and seven made 3’s, for them to win.
 
No one did anything remotely close to that Tuesday night.
 
They looked like the Isaiah Thomas-less Celtics, which is a look they don’t need this time of year.
 
Because that look is so not about winning.