JOPLIN, Mo. —
UPDATED, 4:19 p.m.: According to the the New York Times, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that the New York City Marathon has been cancelled.
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One of an estimated 30,000 out-of-town runners scheduled to race in Sunday’s New York City Marathon, Joplin marathon runner Ken Schramm will be wearing a jersey that not only bears the Restore Joplin logo, but one he had added this week: It says, simply, “New York.”
“It’s a nod to their disaster, what they’re going through,” he said.
Schramm learned Wednesday that the marathon in which he was selected to run is still a go, despite the devastation that Hurricane Sandy left in her wake.
New Yorkers and runners from around the world have debated openly this week whether a marathon should be run with disaster for a backdrop. It brings an estimated $340 million to the city, race officials say. The 2001 marathon went on as scheduled seven weeks after the Sept. 11terrorist attacks with organizers calling it a way to inspire residents and show the world the city's resilience.
Schramm said he believes race officials again made the correct decision to proceed — a decision that could help New York City get the help it needs from the nation and the world, much like the help Joplin has received since the May 22 tornado.
“I know a lot of them are still in shock and can’t believe why they should consider having a race,” Schramm said Thursday. “I guarantee every runner coming to run at this point isn’t doing it for themselves — they want to come forth, see what’s going on, and I know they will return to their state or country and tell those they know what they saw and what help is needed.”
He knows, because the same thing happend in Joplin, he said.
“People came here to help, saw what we were going through, went home and told others, those people came, and we’ve seen them return multiple times because they are connected to it now.”
“I say, ‘New York, open your arms, let people come in, because they want to help.”
Schramm his family will fly into LaGuardia Airport about noon Friday. Race organizers have been in continued contact with runners, and leading up until that day, the Schramms have watched everything they can on television about the aftermath of the storm.
“We’ve constantly been watching because we’ve experienced all that in our town — everything we’re watching and seeing and hearing is exactly what we went through after the tornado,” Schramm said. “The people who are in shock, they see the devastation, but they are happy to be alive and that there is no loss of life in their family. Everything can be rebuilt.”
The marathon route was not affected by the storm, but one of the biggest challenges is getting runners, race staff and volunteers to the start point at Staten Island.
“There is a large portion that takes the ferry across, and most of those people are relying on the subway to get to them to the ferry, but some of the subways are shut down. Right now organizers are working on getting busses to the ferry instead,” Schramm said.
Schramm, who also was selected to be in the Parade of Nations and unfurl the large American flag before the race, isn’t sure how well he’ll do Sunday. He said his usual pre-race preparations haven’t been what they usually are.
“It’s been hard. Typically when you have a big race coming up, that’s what your focus is on. You have to mentally be prepared. Right now, it’s been emotional, thinking what they’re going through,” he said.
Prior to the tornado hitting Joplin, a Boomtown Run Half-Marathon was slated for June 11. In the wake of the storm, it was cancelled.
But other running clubs came forth to offer help, Schramm said. Runners in St. Charles, Mo., decided to put on the Boomtown Run
Half-Marathon themselves, with proceeds benefitting Joplin’s recovery.
They invited Schramm, his daughter, and his wife, who is a teacher, to speak prior to the race.
“My wife is a teacher and spoke about what our schools needed. There were just a few hundred runners there, but they dug in their pockets and sent over $7,000 they raised back to Joplin,” Schramm said.
The medals and race bibs that were to be given out to Boomtown Run runners were sent to the St. Charles event.
“They had a something on them representing each one of the people that died during the tornado,” Schramm said. “It very emotional for all of us, but it was part of our healing process. I believe the same will be true in New York, Schramm said.
Race officials are dedicated this year’s marathon to the City of New York, the victims of the hurricane, and their families.