American Athletes Show Support As Marathon Approaches

By Chris Lotsbom.
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

November 1, 2012

NEW YORK -- Days before the 43rd running of the ING New York City Marathon, Hurricane Sandy came ashore and wreaked havoc on New York and New Jersey, destroying homes and taking out power for millions of residents along the east coast. As recovery efforts begin, final preparations are being made for the world's biggest marathon, set to continue as planned here on Sunday. Many American athletes have supported the decision to proceed with the race, believing that doing so will only boost morale and inspire those impacted by the storm.

"I think the decision to go forward really is a great decision," said Jason Hartmann, this year's top American and fourth place finisher overall at the Boston Marathon. "I think the amount of things the marathon provides, it can be a springboard to raising money for charity and relief efforts for people that need it.

"I think it's awesome and it really shows what New York City is all about," he continued. "To recover from something so quickly and to make things go on like normal is pretty cool."

Hartmann also said the marathon could symbolically be like when Major League Baseball returned after September 11, 2001, as then President George Bush threw out the first pitch and showed the nation that we could indeed overcome the challenges faced.

"I think that's what Sunday could provide for a lot of people," Hartmann, 31, said. "Maybe just for two and a half hours they could get a break from reality; it can be a good thing too."

Such statement rings true for American Olympian Julie Culley, making her marathon debut on Sunday. A native of New Jersey, Culley's family owns a vacation house in Long Beach Island, which was heavily damaged by flood waters from Hurricane Sandy earlier this week.

"I think it's great perspective to have," Culley began, pausing briefly to reflect on her thoughts. "I don't want it to sound cheesy in any way, but I feel like if there's moments that get really hard [during the race], there's something that is bigger and more important in my heart that will keep me feeling strong throughout, at least emotionally."

Culley, 31, has gained strength in the outpouring of support from fans and residents of the Tri-State area.

"I have already gotten all kinds of tweets," she says. "Everyone's on the 'Jersey Strong' campaign right now, lots of tweets about making sure that 'you run hard for Jersey' and all that stuff which is great. It's very inspiring. I want to do my best for a number of reasons."

Amy Hastings, here American Olympic teammate, was also impacted by the hurricane and believes holding the race will only further demonstrate the strength of the region. Part of her family who lives in New Jersey were without power as of yesterday, staying with friends who owned a generator.

"It's absolutely devastating to some of the people in New York and New Jersey," Hastings told Race Results Weekly yesterday. "However it is New York City. If any city is going to pull it off, it's New York. It's going to be incredible when they do."

Today, the New York Road Runners announced the creation of the 2012 ING New York City Marathon Race to Recover Fund which will benefit those impacted by the storm. NYRR has pledged $1 million, or $26.20 for each of the approximately 38,000 runners expected on Sunday.  Moreover, race sponsors the Rudin Family and ING have pledged $1.1MM and $500,000, respectively.

"New York Road Runners thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy," said Mary Wittenberg, president CEO of NYRR, in a statement. "On Sunday, as runners cross through the five boroughs we want them to bring with them a sense of hope and resilience. The marathon is not just a race -- it's about helping NYC find its way down the road to recovery."

George Hirsch, Chairman of the NYRR Board, added, "All of the NYRR members are New Yorkers either by locale or in spirit and we hope that they'll join in this effort to help New York get back on its feet."


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