Sunday, November 04, 2012

Run Anyway

NEW YORK >>Never mind the cancellation. Here comes the marathon.

Thousands of runners poured into New York City's Central Park on Sunday morning to do what they had prepared so long to do — put in 26.2 miles.

That's despite the abrupt announcement Friday evening that the world's largest marathon had been called off because of Superstorm Sandy.

Hundreds of other runners, wearing their marathon shirts and backpacks full of supplies, took the ferry to hard-hit Staten Island and ran to hard-hit neighborhoods to help.

Shortly after dawn, groups of runners started gathering on the edges of Central Park to warm up, take photos and drop off clothing and other items for storm victims.

Italians stretched en masse near the Plaza Hotel. The Germans started from Columbus Circle. Everyone plunged into the park to pursue their own race. Some ran around the park clockwise, some counterclockwise, taking over startled dog walkers with a riot of color.

"A lot of people just wanted to finish what they started," said Lance Svendsen, who organized an alternative marathon called Run Anyway. By 8:45 a.m., his group had sent off five waves of runners from the marathon's official finish line, which had not yet been taken down. "It is amazing. My guess is about 600 people have left so far."

It was a throwback to the original New York City Marathon in 1970, which was run ragtag with 127 people and stayed completely within Central Park.

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