Running for a different cause.

By Samantha Baker

A different type of marathon was held in Staten-Island on Sunday.  The annual celebration of the New York Marathon was cancelled before its start this year, a historic first that no one really knew how to react to.

Hundreds of runners, however, refused to let the cancellation spoil their Sunday run that they prepared months for.  Instead, the participants partook in an informal run intended to benefit the victims of Superstorm Sandy and carried backpacks filled with household necessities around the New York boroughs.

Early Sunday morning, more than 1,000 people crowded onto two ferryboats and headed to a place that was hit very hard – Staten Island. With over 19 people dead because of Sandy, including two young boys who were swept from the arms of their mother’s by the waters, the people’s emotions were just as devastated as the land they lived on.  There was not any place more evident than the usual Staten Island starting point for the runners to begin.

Central park was also crowded with runners, near what would have been the finish line, where people were just looking to help.

There were no bands playing on the corners, no water cups being passed out at the stations, no one setting a personal best time… just runners trying to do some good and rise above a bad rap pinned on them by the greedy race organizers.

“We initially were bummed, but also saddened by the perception that runners were indifferent to the needs of other people,” said Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine doctor in New York. “We wanted to turn a negative to a positive.”

And Metzl did just that.  Coming from a person who has run 29 marathons in his life, he stated that it would be pointless to let well-trained bodies go to waste on this day.  Although the idea that the marathon could lift the spirits of the city following this superstorm was a stretch from the start, it was appealing to have thousands of legs help in the recovery of New York.

Volunteers from all over the world worked together for one purpose—to piece together people’s lives and communities back together.  Trading in one day of running for a day of service, hundreds of people found their relief efforts more rewarding than running across a finish line.

Kelly Rooney, a 31-year-old stay-at-home mom from FL, was one of them.  Having traveled with her husband and 6-year-old daughter to the shattered city, Rooney was looking forward to the Staten Island charity run where she could run with a backpack full of dog food, cat food, and batteries.  “I truthfully at this point did not care if I ran.  I just want to give the stuff out,” she said Sunday morning.

New York will have another marathon- that is not the problem.  The problem would have risen, however, if people were parading through the streets at a time when people are crawling out from beneath the wreckage or where people are burying loves ones.

The marathon cancellation, in my opinion, was the right thing to do.

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