In the face of backlash, the New York Road Runners, organizers of the New York City Marathon, called a press conference today to announce a program called "The Race to Recover," a Hurricane Sandy relief effort, and will start the program off with a $1 million donation.
The surprise press conference and donation come in the wake of criticism by residents in the hard-hit sections of Rockaway, Queens and Staten Island who are still trying to pick up the pieces. "Just reached out to contact in Mayor's Office to state here and now on Wednesday that not one first responder and no resources should be diverted from our community to staff the NYC Marathon" wrote City Council member James Oddo, stressing the inherent point of most of the criticisms: that New York City's resources shouldn't be taken away from disaster zones so that a marathon can happen, and that New York City is having a hard enough time as it is getting resources to those who need it.
Earlier today, Mary Wittenberg, chief executive of the New York Road Runners defended the Mayor's decision to go through with the marathon despite the dire situation New Yorkers in Queens and Staten Island are facing. "This isn’t about running, this is about helping the city," Wittenberg told reporters Thursday morning. "We’re dedicating this race to the lives that were lost and helping the city recover. We want to raise money and awareness," she added.