UPDATE: On Sunday, runners throughout New York City were volunteering. Some runners gathered to go to Staten Island, the start of marathon, with backpacks filled with donations. Others took part in an informal marathon run in Central Park where runners were asked to bring donations.
Francis Ng was ready to run a marathon in New York City on Sunday but now the Toronto marathoner is instead looking to pitch in as the region recovers from this week's massive storm.
He's just one of the many Canadian runners who found out too late that the New York City Marathon was cancelled, a race that draws more than 47,000 entrants.
Other athletes from Canada and many from around the world were already on the way to the Big Apple when the mayor's office cancelled one of the world's largest marathons. The 2011 edition of the marathon drew 1,200 Canadians and more than half of the race's participants are from outside of the United States.
Ng found out at at the departure lounge in Toronto that the race was cancelled, so instead of running through the five boroughs on Sunday morning, he's now looking to make a trip up to the Bronx to volunteer at Pelham Bay Nature Center.
"Runners seem to all be disappointed, but they all seem to understand the circumstances," Ng said in an email from his Times Square hotel. "Everyone's in the same boat so it seems to be a good bonding issue for runners."
The race was cancelled on Friday afternoon, days after mayor Mike Bloomberg announced that the race would go on. Marathon Sunday in New York draws out millions of spectators and though many thought it would lift the spirits of New Yorkers, others thought the race was drawing away resources and emergency personnel needed for recovery efforts.
At the race expo, sports clothing manufacturers were still selling running gear at deep discounts, promising to give all proceeds to the Red Cross.
Race signs displayed at the NYC Marathon expo.
Frank Famularo from Mississauga arrived in New York early on Friday and had already picked up his bib when he found out the race was cancelled. He had landed earlier in the day in New Jersey and saw the lines of cars waiting hours to get gas.
Famularo understands the decision to cancel, but noted that it was a massive financial burden to those who decided to take the trip. He won his bib through a contest and noted that hockey commentator Nick Kypreos was also supposed to run the race.
"There are people who are coming from South Africa, South America, Europe, Asia and they came in yesterday," he said from his hotel in Manhattan. "No one is really questioning whether it's a good decision."
Famularo, who has run other marathons, thought that the move earlier in the week would signify that New York would be "back on its feet." He noted that the runners in town are spending, giving the financial boost the race brings to the city every year. On Sunday, he plans to join other runners who will congregate to Central Park, the finish area of the marathon, and run a few loops, then look for opportunities to volunteer.
Ng will be headed up to the Bronx when he would have been in Staten Island Sunday at 10 a.m.. But he has some plans to do what all runners do while they're in town.
"Going to start with a short run in the morning, " he wrote. "Might even wear the bib -- and then head to a park to do volunteer cleanup."
UPDATE: Sunday, runner Francis Ng tweeted this from the Bronx where he is volunteering
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