The New York City Marathon was canceled because of the destruction occasioned by Superstorm Sandy, but almost a thousand runners showed up at the starting line in Staten Island Sunday morning anyway.
However, they weren’t there to run -- they were there to help the city’s relief efforts.
Largely coordinated by the folks responsible for the Facebook page New York Runners In Support of Staten Island, created by sports-medicine physician Dr. Jordan Metzl, the nonrunning runners first met at the Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan around 8:30 a.m. From there, they took the Staten Island Ferry to the St. George Ferry Terminal, where they began distributing relief items across the borough of Staten Island.
New York Runners In Support of Staten Island describes its mission on the Facebook page: "Now that the NYC marathon is cancelled, let’s put these legs and healthy spirit to good use! We are organizing an impromptu group of NYC marathon runners (and friends) to head over to Staten Island to run and distribute food and helpful items."
The Facebook page has been brought up-to-date throughout the day, sharing photos of those affected by the storm and inspiring stories of relief efforts by the runners.
"The reason we run the NYC marathon is because of the people and the crowds and the energy of the crowds," a volunteer who preferred to stay anonymous told the local cable-news channel NY1. "We wanted to come and give back to the people of Staten Island and let them know that they're not forgotten.
While some marathon runners spent the day helping out in Staten Island, others continued to run a full marathon despite Sandy. About 2,000 runners have been holding an unofficial marathon in Manhattan's Central Park -- with four laps around the park close to equaling one marathon -- to raise money for victims of the storm, according to Gothamist.
The American Cancer Society's DetermiNation Marathon runners are holding a similar event, doing 7.7 laps around Brooklyn's Prospect Park. The group has already raised $3,000 for those affected by Sandy, Gothamist reported.