Runners cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge towards Brooklyn at the start of the ING New York City Marathon as seen from the air on November 6, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Controversy over NYC Marathon, has runners saying it shows the resiliency of the city

Superstorm Sandy came, destroyed and went, and everyone knew all resources in New York would be focused on helping the city regroup and rebuild. But with the New York City marathon on the horizon, suddenly a decision had to be made about whether to hold the race.

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to forge ahead with the marathon, he was met with joy from runners and head scratching from people who question why the race must go on.

“I didn’t think it was going to be cancelled,” says Venezuelan New Yorker Khartoon Ohan, who is running in her third New York marathon. “I thought there was a 10 to 15 percent chance they would cancel it. New Yorkers are so resilient it would almost have been out of character for them to cancel it.”

Ohan says she has heard many people say that running the race as planned is selfish. “They’re saying the city has enough on its hands with clean up. We should be focused on getting the city back together and why would we stop that to run a race?”

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The answer to those opposed to the marathon may lie in the economics of the event and what it brings to New York City. According to the New York Times, a recent study showed that the marathon generates $340 million in economic activity in the city, one reason the mayor is a backer of the race.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie he believes Mayor Bloomberg should postpone the New York City marathon as congressman Michael Grimm from Staten Island says he’s “angry” over plans to continue with the race.

Mary Wittenberg, the CEO and president of the New York Road Runners, the group which organizes the marathon, told the TODAY Show the race will “bring the city together and help the world unite to really support this relief effort.”

Wittenberg received pushback from TODAY’s Matt Lauer, who said no one he spoke with thought it was the right idea because of the 600,000 people without power in New York City, the subways operating on a limited basis, the streets being closed and so on.

Joanna Troncoso, a New Yorker who ran in her first marathon last year and is back again, is excited the race will go on and lauds Witternberg for pushing international runners and those coming to New York from across the country to donate to the Mayor’s Fund and CrowdRise on the New York Road Runners and marathon websites.

For Troncoso, and many runners, the chance to run the marathon wasn’t just about personal success. “I’m proud to run for Fred’s team, which donates every dollar to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, she said.

“I’m running in memory of my grandmother.”

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