Though the New York City Marathon was officially canceled due to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, athletes from all over the world still flocked to Manhattan. Some organized impromptu 26.2 mile routes amongst traffic and pedestrians, grabbing hot dogs from carts for sustenance along the way, while thousands of others joined the volunteer efforts.
There are still thousands of residents in New York City without water and power, so aid workers collected and distributed clothing, delivered food and water and helped with clean up in some of the city's hardest hit neighborhoods, like Staten Island.
Mayor Bloomberg promised that the marathon would go on as planned last Wednesday, before the scope of Superstorm Sandy's destruction had been fully measured. Runners from Europe, Canada, Australia, Asia and Africa all pushed forward with their plans to participate, most arriving in the city just in time for Bloomberg's second statement on Friday, which confirmed that the race would be canceled.
Many athletes had no where to stay, as local hotels were full with New York residents who had been displaced by the storm's damage. Even with reservations made months in advance, there wasn't room for the influx of almost 50,000 participants and spectators anticipating the race on Sunday.
Attitudes have been mixed towards the runners who did plan on completing a marathon on Sunday, officially or not. Most storm-torn locals were appreciative of the extra helping hands though. Even though every entrant to the marathon is guaranteed placement in the 2013 race, many won't have the means to make the trip again, let alone the stamina to continue grueling training for another year. There were no crowds of fans or the celebration that is meant to go along with a 26.2 mile accomplishment for the racers that decided to still run, but their strength and dedication was a much needed glimmer of positivity in the turbulent week NYC has endured.
If you want to help the relief effort but you're not from the area, renting a car in New York is a great option to get you to the hard-hit Jersey shore. You can also donate or volunteer here.