By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Just a few hours after landing at LaGuardia Airport in New York City, Joplin marathon runner Ken Schramm, his wife and three of their children were in shock: They’d traveled 1,200 miles to run a marathon that was canceled.
“We’re still in shock,” Schramm said by phone from Times Square Friday evening. “It’s not just us coming all that way, it’s all of the other people that have come in — we’re seeing them from Brazil, from lots of other countries — and now won’t be running.”
Some 40,000 runners from around the world were expected to take part. Upon hearing the news, some of them turned to Facebook pages like NYC 2012 Marathon of Relief, which encourages marathoners to instead do volunteer work on Sunday.
The family’s return flight to Joplin is Monday, so they said they’ll just try to make the most of their time in New York over the weekend.
“It’s disappointing,” said Schramm, who qualified for the marathon at a half-marathon in Columbia, Mo., then was selected to participate based on a lottery system. He also was chosen to represent Missouri to be in the Parade of Nations and the unfurling of the American flag — pre-marathon events similar to the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.
He was selected, he believed, because he was from Joplin.
Schramm had told the Globe for a story that appeared in Thursday’s edition that he believed race officials should proceed with plans for the marathon; it would bring global awareness to the city’s plight as a result of Hurricane Sandy, he said, much the same way Joplin received help after the initial wave of volunteers who responded went home and told friends and family.
“What we can’t figure out is, if they were going to call the race, why not call it Monday — they had every reason to do it then — and right now, what could possibly be going wrong that would have caused them to do that?” Schramm said.
He said he believes the decision should have been made much earlier in the week before runners began traveling — some of them won’t arrive until tomorrow — rather than at the last minute.
“I think everyone would have understood if they would have called it after the tragedy, but when (Mayor Michael Bloomberg) announced going forward in order to pump money into the city, then waits until the last second and everyone is already here...it’s not that he made the wrong call, but the call should have been made Monday or Tuesday,” Schramm said.
Mary Wittenberg, the president of the New York Road Runners, said in a joint statement with Bloomberg that “registered runners would be guaranteed a slot in next year's race or in the 2013 NYC Half Marathon, which will be run March 17.
Schramm doesn’t know whether he will run either event; he already has qualified to be in the Boston Marathon in April and has made plans to run it.
“We’re going to weigh whether we come back (to New York City) next year, not because of what happened, but because there are other races I want to be in. I just don’t know if New York will fit yet.”