Hurricane Sandy is “taking a toll on the weeklong schedule leading up to” the ING N.Y. Marathon on Sunday, according to Belson & Pilon of the N.Y. TIMES. Many of the roughly 47,000 runners “have had to juggle travel plans.” One youth event has been “moved indoors and other ceremonies have been delayed.” Temporary structures that were “built in advance will have to be rebuilt later in the week” as NYRR “scrambles to prepare the course.” NYRR President & CEO Mary Wittenberg said, “What we have focused on at this point is doing what we could in advance, and now we’re looking at a greatly reduced schedule for the remainder of the week.” For now, the runners’ exposition at the Javits Center on Manhattan's West Side where runners pick up their bibs "is to open as expected.” Shoe company Brooks “canceled an event” today in Manhattan featuring runner Amy Hastings and “hoped to reschedule for later this week.” A Nike spokesperson said that the company “did not anticipate any of its scheduled activities to be affected.” Wittenberg said that runners before the storm “would have had until Oct. 31 to withdraw their entry,” but added that the deadline “will be extended to Saturday.” While runners “will be guaranteed a spot in next year’s marathon, they will lose their entry fee from this year and have to pay a new entry fee next year” (NYTIMES.com, 10/29).
TRANSPORTATION ISSUES: USA TODAY’s Kelly Whiteside writes a “major logistical concern” of the race remains getting its “18,000-20,000 international runners into the city, given the airport shutdowns.” United Airlines, one of the marathon's corporate partners, is “helping rebook elite athletes.” The race's cancellation policy also is “being altered in light of the travel difficulties.” In addition, flooding at the ferry stations is “being monitored -- half of the field is taken by ferries to the race’s start.” Wittenberg: “Contingency planning is always part of our mode of operation. We have the room in the schedule” (USA TODAY, 10/30). In New Jersey, Tom Gulitti notes race officials last year had to “clean up after a snowstorm eight days before the race” and Hurricane Sandy “will create a bigger challenge.” Wittenberg: "We're extraordinarily lucky the marathon is not today” (Bergen RECORD, 10/30). The AP's Rachel Cohen noted if “flooding or other damage affects the course or logistics, NYRR has contingency plans every year to adjust to any potential problems.” The race’s route through the five boroughs “mostly avoids areas considered at highest risk for flooding.” The “biggest concerns center on getting entrants their numbers and to the starting line on Staten Island.” The storm also “could knock down trees and limbs in Central Park, where the 26.2-mile race finishes.” Wittenberg said that the city was “able to clear the park in time for last year's race a week after a freak snowstorm caused extensive damage” (AP, 10/29).