Running the New York City Marathon is on the bucket list for many avid runners, but three first-timers from the Lowcountry planning to do Sunday’s run have been on stand-by since Hurricane Sandy struck on Monday.
Immediately after the storm, the New York Road Runners indicated the marathon would still be held, but as the extent of damage was realized in the ensuing days, some doubt was cast whether the 43rd annual event would be held. NYRR ceded the decision to city officials.
“The marathon will go on,” said New York mayor Michael Bloomberg at a Wednesday press conference, noting that he expected most, if not all, of the power would be back on by the weekend.
Despite that news, those intent to run it still have worries about getting to New York, and around it, this weekend. Transportation will top the list of unusual inconveniences during the world’s largest marathon event.
“Superstorm” Sandy already has caused chaos in another marathon for Summerville’s Crystal Stubbs Limehouse, who has plans to fly to New York on Friday.
As part of a contingent of Lowcountry runners in the Leukemia Society’s Team in Training, Limehouse ran the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday as Sandy’s chilly winds started battering Washington, D.C.
Because her afternoon flight had been canceled due to the storm, she and two other runners rented a van and drove home — arriving back at 3:30 a.m. on Monday.
Limehouse, a stay-at-home mom with two daughters, doesn’t usually run back-to-back marathons, but last summer she was notified by Nissan that she had won one of two all-expense paid trips in the Innovation for Endurance Sweepstakes and was already committed to doing the Marine Corps Marathon.
After all, the sweepstakes prize package included airfare, a hotel near Times Square for three nights, a Nissan car with a driver all weekend, a Saturday afternoon run with Olympian Ryan Hall, pasta party tickets and automatic, paid entry to the New York City Marathon.
“I saw the contest advertised on Facebook in June, entered it and then forgot about it because I never win anything,” said Limehouse, adding that she’s wanted to run New York for five years. “When I found out I won, I cranked up Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ and started dancing around my house.”
That dream trip was put in jeopardy by Sandy, and Limehouse has been checking up on plans.
As of Wednesday, her flight was still scheduled, but she had been unable to reach her hotel to confirm whether it was open. She’s confident that if there are any changes to plans, Nissan officials will contact her about changes, though she already knows the run with Hall is canceled.
Bobby Fancher, 42, of Mount Pleasant, said his flight is supposed to land Friday afternoon in LaGuardia Airport, which was severely damaged and still closed as of Wednesday.
Fancher also is among the thousands of marathoners expected to board ferries at Battery Park in lower Manhattan, which was flooded during the storm, to get to the marathon start on Staten Island early Sunday morning. Many get to the departing ferry via the subway.
Fancher is looking forward to running the marathon because he actually qualified to get an automated entry. Those qualifying times, however, have been tightened since then.
NYRR has offered to let runners defer participation to the 2013 race, but will not refund the $255 registration fee, which Fancher understands.
“They can’t give thousands of people $250 back because a lot of that money has already been spent on preparations,” he said.
Mike McKenna, 38, a consultant at Blackbaud, grew up in New Jersey and saw many of the places he used to live or work get flooded by Sandy on TV, online and in print media. The storm literally hit home for him.
While McKenna was looking forward to running his first New York Marathon, especially after enduring 20-mile training runs in the Charleston heat in the last four months, he is torn about whether running marathon within a week of a massive natural disaster is appropriate.
“I have mixed feelings about using resources, such as police and EMS, for the race. They should be helping out people who really need their help.”