NYC Marathon
Runners crossing the Verrazano bridge as they compete in the 2011 New York City Marathon Reuters

The 42nd annual New York City Marathon will take place Sunday despite growing concerns from New Yorkers about whether the race should go on at all.

The destruction of Hurricane Sandy throughout the city’s five boroughs has pushed police, firemen, and emergency workers to their max, though the marathon’s route does not go by the city's worst hit areas of the storm in Staten Island and Lower Manhattan.

Transportation has been limited in and around New York, with flooding in subways, tunnels, and airports. New York Road Runners, which organizes the race, said they expect 40,000 runners this year, a 15 percent drop off from their registered total.

The 26.1-mile race begins in Staten Island then goes into Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx, with the home stretch and finish winding back to Manhattan’s Central Park.

A map of the route is available here.

Known as the largest marathon in the world, more than 46,000 runners representing 19 different countries finished last year’s race. Established in 1970, the marathon welcomes runners of all levels, from Olympians to enthusiasts.

Last year, Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai won the men’s division with a course record 2:05:06, and Ethiopia’s Firehiwot Dado took the women’s half.

The last American to win the men’s division was Meb Keflezighi in 2009, but before him the United States hadn’t won since 1982. No American woman has won the race since Miki Gorman took her second consecutive title in 1977.

The U.S. does hold the most men’s open wins with 14, but Kenya is second with 10 and have won five since 2002.

Controversy is brewing over Mayor Michel Bloomberg and marathon officials’ decision to even go ahead with the race. Many have cited the estimated $340 million in revenue the marathon is expected to generate as the main motive to move forward.

Bloomberg has said electricity should be restored to all of Manhattan by Sunday, which will free up much of the police force typically staked out along the marathon’s route.

NYRR and sponsors like ING have pledged more than $1 million in donations to hurricane relief efforts, and have said the marathon can lift the city’s spirits in the wake of Sandy.

“NYRR’s thoughts and prayers go out to all of those impacted by the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy,” NYRR CEO Mary Wittenberg said on the organization’s website.

“On Sunday, as runners cross the five boroughs, we want them to bring with them a sense of hope and resilience. The marathon is not just a race—it’s about helping NYC find its way on the road to recovery.”