New York City’s canceled marathon left thousands of runners who had traveled to the storm-damaged city with nothing but free time and a good pair of shoes.
The result: Sunday morning’s hastily arranged mercy run in which hundreds of would-be marathoners are expected to jog through Staten Island with backpacks full of food and other supplies.
Dr. Jordan Metzl, a doctor of sports medicine and a runner himself, organized the event through Facebook. He told Bloomberg News that he wanted to focus the relief effort on Staten Island, one of the areas hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy early last week.
“We have our courses mapped out and we will use our legs to do charitable work,” Metzl told Bloomberg. “The running community is the most charitable community I know. People say runners are selfish, but that’s not true. Runners are always running for a cause.”
Kelly Rooney, a 31-year-old stay-at-home mom, had made the trip to New York with her family so she could run in the marathon. When it was canceled, Rooney decided to turn her energy to helping those in need, according to Reuters.
Rooney said she was annoyed at first that the race was canceled after she and her family had come to the city. But now, she’s eager to get her backpack filled with dog food, batteries and donated water from her hotel near Central Park out to Staten Island.
“I truthfully at this point don’t care if I run, I just want to give this stuff out,” she told Reuters.
As many as 500 runners are expected to join today’s supply run, including many international marathoners and Alison Cox, who won a silver medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics in rowing, according to Reuters.
“Yes, it’s going to be harder with 15 pounds of stuff on my back,” said Metz. “That’s only a minor inconvenience.”