Before Hurricane Sandy hurled a 13.88-foot storm surge at Manhattan and before New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg canceled the 2012 ING New York City Marathon, Chattanoogan Lacie Stone was planning her marathon debut with this weekend’s race.
The runner—who got her start eight years ago with 5Ks and worked her way up to 10Ks and half marathons—decided to forgo the trip a day before Bloomberg announced on Nov. 2 that the Sunday race would not take place.
Stone explained that she was drawn to the iconic route through the metro area’s five boroughs and storied Central Park so much that she said early on in her running career that if she ran any marathon it would be New York City’s 26-mile race.
"I felt if I were ever going to do a marathon in my life, the NYC marathon would be the one," Stone said. "But I also knew I wasn't fast enough to qualify, so I started putting my name in the lottery for it with the thought, 'Hey, when and if they ever pull my name, then I'll run a marathon that year.' I let fate decide. That was three years ago, and this April, I received an email from the New York City Road Runners that simply said, 'You're in.'"
Following Hurricane Sandy's landfall in New York City on Oct. 29, Bloomberg had originally announced that the race would move forward as planned. The position was bolstered by the event's significant economic impact on the metropolitan area, particularly Manhattan: The 2011 marathon netted approximately $340 million, according to the New York Road Runners. That figure took into account the tourist dollars that runners and their guests, spectators and vendors spent on hotels, restaurants and other New York City attractions.
However, bringing nearly 50,000 people from racers to spectators to vendors into a city whose subway system had just sustained the worst damage ever in its 108-year history presented serious logistical concerns. Starting the race in Staten Island, where the majority of residents were wading through water and not expecting to have power for a few days, presented a few ethical concerns for Stone.
"When Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey, I sat and watched it on the news like everyone else. I began to ask the question 'Will the race go on?'" Stone said. "After Mayor Bloomberg had announced that the race would be held and LaGuardia Airport was finally reopened, my questions [was], 'Should the race move forward?'"
Stone withdrew her entry for the marathon on Thursday. The next day, Bloomberg canceled the race.
Luck of the draw
Runners earn a spot on the ING New York City Marathon's roster by either meeting a qualifying time based on their age group at another race, or they submit their name to a lottery system. With a personal best time of two hours and 10 minutes for a half marathon compared to a standard of one hour and 30 minutes, Stone said that she felt the lottery was her best bet.
After the initial surprise of being selected wore off, Stone was hard at work with two very familiar trainers. Jennie Wallace Gentry and Lisa Flint began pushing her with short runs, consisting of two to six miles up to three times a week with one long run toward the end of the week. The women began the training routine in July, and Stone said her body was ready to endure the grueling pain of a full marathon.
Stone said that though she was disappointed in the cancelation, she agrees with the sense of doing right by people whose lives were affected by the storm. Given that she has achieved her training goals, she may look to participate in some full marathon located nearby. Race organizers made no indication that the event would be rescheduled, but the INC New York City Marathon will be back in 2013.
"Honestly, I look forward to running the New York City Marathon in 2013 in celebration of that great city, its amazing people and what they've overcome," Stone said.
Updated @ 8:31 a.m. on 11/5/12 for clarity and to add more information.