NYC marathon cancellation affects local runners - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

NYC marathon cancellation affects local runners, Honolulu Marathon

Alice Velasquez Alice Velasquez
Rachel Ross Rachel Ross
Dr. Jim Barahal Dr. Jim Barahal
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The New York City Marathon is the largest one in the world, with about 47,000 finishers in last year's race. This year's marathon was canceled due to the devastation from superstorm Sandy. But there's a chance some of those runners may end up coming to Hawaii instead.

Staten Island, where the New York marathon starts, was among the areas hit hardest by the storm.

"Everything's different," said Staten Island resident Alice Velasquez. "We have nothing left. FEMA came and looked really quick yesterday. Red Cross hasn't been around. No one's been here to help us. We need help."

"From the earliest days this week the marathon ceased to be about running and it was all about how to aid New York City," said Mary Wittenberg, President and CEO of New York Runners.

That was also evident to Oahu runner Rachel Ross, who has competed in several races here and on the mainland. She was planning to run her first New York marathon.

"And when I saw the photos of the ferry and the subway stations, I thought, you know what? This is not going to be a fun trip. This is going to be a logistical mess. And so this is not the right time to go," Ross said.

"To cancel a marathon of that magnitude is a huge decision on a number of levels, but I'm happy that they made that decision today and I think it was the right decision," said Dr. Jim Barahal, president of the Honolulu Marathon.

According to Barahal, the Honolulu Marathon contributes more than $100 million into the local economy. New York's marathon generates about $325 million in economic impact. For some of the runners, the cancellation of the New York race is still a big blow because they run for charity. Those runners are looking at coming to Honolulu.

"We have heard from a couple of people already that want to come and run Honolulu so they can raise money for the charities that they're supporting, and we're certainly going to work with them and make that possible for them and help them out," said Barahal.

Ross canceled her trip to New York on Tuesday, just a day after Sandy struck, but has no regrets. "You don't want to go when it's not at its best and you can't use the subway and the stores aren't open, and people are searching for water and food. It's not the time to go be a tourist," she said.

Ross said she'll run the Boston Marathon and visit New York in April, and plans to run the New York marathon next year.

The Honolulu Marathon will be held December 9.


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