After the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy shuttered the New York City Marathon, some runners bolted to Hamilton to run in the Road2Hope Marathon instead.
Getting out on the course was cathartic for many who made the trip.
“We trained so hard for this and it just really took our minds off things a little bit,” said Dan Giblin, who made the trek up from Rochester, New York after the New York City Marathon was cancelled.
“But your mind still snaps back to the folks that are down there — my cousins, my friends who are doing the cleanup and helping.”
Around 40,000 people were expected to take part in the New York City Marathon Sunday before Hurricane Sandy hit the city.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg cancelled the event after mounting criticism that because the region is still recovering from the storm, it 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.
Because of the New York City Marathon's cancellation, the 42.2 kilometre Road2Hope race became the final North American qualifier for the Boston Marathon.
Some runners lined up as early as 7 a.m. at Confederation Park in Hamilton to fill an extra 250 spots created for the event.
Giblin and fellow runner Matt Kellman drove to Hamilton from Rochester, New York early Saturday Morning.
Road2Hope was Giblin's 52nd marathon and Kellman's 42nd.
“I think it's fabulous that the organizers of this event opened up another 250 spots to accommodate us that got displaced out of the New York Marathon,” Kellman said.
“We've got some experience doing this, and we love this event.”
Kellman said it was the right decision for the mayor to cancel the New York race, but questioned his timing.
“It's an unbelievable natural disaster there, and I don't think people understand the impact of it,” he said.
“To hold out until Friday night to make the decision was really a hardship on a lot of people.”
Giblin said he believes the wait was caused by the large amount of money the race brings to New York.
“They estimate that it brings in about $344 million in a week and unfortunately, I think [Mayor Bloomberg] got caught up in that,” he said.
We have a winner
New Zealand exchange student Jesse Gibbs won the race with a time of two hours, thirty-one minutes and thirty-eight seconds.
“It was a lot of work,” the Brock University student said after the race, surrounded by his girlfriend and friends.
“Every time you ask yourself why you run them,” he laughed. “Around 35 k, my legs really weren't having a good time.”
The 20-year-old Brock University student told CBC Hamilton he's shooting to run an Olympic marathon, but admitted he has a lot of work to do yet.
The Road2Hope Marathon included a full marathon and a half marathon, as well as a 10 kilometre run, a five-kilometre run and a one-kilometre kids run.
Fundraising efforts went to City Kidz Hamilton and Joy and Hope of Haiti.