Nov 2, 2012, 6:25 PM EDT
Mayor Michael Bloomberg canceled the New York City marathon Friday after backlash from some who say the city is misusing resources that could help those still struggling in the aftermath of Sandy.
Bloomberg disagreed with the idea that the race would divert resources from the recovery, but gave in to the detractors because it had become a “source of controversy and division.”
“We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event – even one as meaningful as this – to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
The New York Road Runners, who organize the event that brings an estimated $340 million to the city, redubbed Sunday’s marathon the “Race to Recovery” and pledged $26.20 to charity for every runner in the race – more than $1 million – and its sponsors had pledged another $1.5 million toward the effort.
An estimated 85 percent of the professional runners had already arrived in New York, including Stanley Kiwott of Kenya who told the USA Today that he started his four city journey from Nairobi on Tuesday.
There’s been no set date for the rescheduled race, but a petition has begun circulating to move it to the spring, which is way too far down the line considering how runners prepare for these races.
This year’s marathon was seen as an important reset button for top U.S. Olympians like Meb Keflezighi and Julie Culley, who begin to prepare for the new four-year Olympic marathon cycle.