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The most memorable marathon that never happened

Scott A. Ehling is Plainfield resident.

Scott A. Ehling is a Plainfield resident.

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Updated: December 6, 2012 11:48AM



It’s been nearly five years in the making for me: running in the New York City Marathon. The NYC Marathon brings participants from all over the world together to run in one of the most prestigious races in the world. However, this year due to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy earlier in the week, the question of whether or not to even hold the race with millions without shelter, food, water and electricity was filled with controversy.

Once the decision was made that the NYC Marathon would go on, I made the decision to go as well, albeit with a heavy heart for those affected by Sandy. Suddenly the headache and logistics of my travel didn’t seem to matter as much compared to what the people of Staten Island and other burroughs were dealing with. My original hotel in the financial district was closed due to flooding and my Friday flight into LaGuardia was a race against time to see if the airport would open in time to honor it. That said, these distractions were insignificant to what I would see firsthand after arriving in New York City.

I arrived to New York City with my brother early in the morning on Friday and within minutes was humbled. We saw police checkpoints for entrance into the city, long lines of people waiting for gas and supplies, garbage piled up three rows high on sidewalks. Those were just some of the images. And suddenly the thought of running in a marathon event less than 48 hours later didn’t have the same build up and anxiety to it that most do.

We arrived at Marathon expo around noon and all signs from Mayor Bloomberg and the New York Road Runners (NYRR) still pointed toward the race getting the green light and that it would go on as planned. Meanwhile, public outcry was mounting, and at the center of it were two huge transportable generators that provided electricity to the event tents at the marathon finish line and thus were not made available to those people without power.

Around four o’clock reports started to surface that the marathon had been cancelled. A statement from Mayor Bloomberg’s office and NYRR President and CEO Mary Wittenberg confirmed the news.

My initial reaction to the cancellation was one of selfishness and anger but those feelings quickly subsided when thinking that those affected by Sandy still were without basic life needs. My brother and I felt compelled to help those in need. Although the logistics of going through the Red Cross volunteer training didn’t work out for us, we donated funds and whatever needed supplies we could find to the local center.

Early Saturday morning hundreds, maybe thousands, of runners converged at Central Park to run together in unity. Early Sunday morning (what would have been race day) fellow runners were out collecting donations for Sandy relief and helping out those affected and in need on Staten Island. I’m proud to say that in the time of need the running community responded.

Although I never ran the 2012 New York City Marathon, it will forever be the most memorable event that I have ever been a part of.

Scott A. Ehling is a Plainfield resident.



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