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New York Marathon to go ahead this weekend

Pedestrians walk past a submerged taxi in Brooklyn, New York, October 29, 2012 as Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the northeastern United States. Hurricane Sandy began battering the U.S. East Coast on Monday with fierce winds and driving rain, as the monster storm shut down transportation, shuttered businesses and sent thousands scrambling for higher ground hours before the worst was due to strike.

Gary He/Reuters

For many people, running a marathon is a story of strength, determination and overcoming often insurmountable odds.

Come Sunday morning in New York, it will have taken every ounce of those qualities just to get runners to the start line.

With the Big Apple still coming to terms with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the question of how to get the city up and running to host an annual event that attracts around 50,000 athletes – to say nothing of the nearly two million spectators who traditionally pour into the five boroughs – is understandably at the forefront of organizers' minds.

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg, no doubt aware of the $340-million (U.S.) economic boost the marathon gives New York each year, confirmed Tuesday evening that the race would go ahead as scheduled, although further details would be provided on Wednesday.

With the city's subways, airports and many streets shut down, – as well as the loss of power in many homes – the timing could not be worse. But through the years New Yorkers have shown their resiliency and ability to pull together when the going gets tough, most famously in the days and weeks following the 2001 terror attacks.

"The marathon has always been a special day for New Yorkers as a symbol of the vitality and resiliency of this city," Mary Wittenberg, president of race organizer New York Road Runners, said in a statement.

The 42-kilometre route starts on Staten Island and about half the entrants normally would take the ferry and others would take buses through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Both are closed because of flooding and it's not clear when they will be back in service.

"We will keep all options open with regard to making any accommodations and adjustments necessary to race day and race weekend events," Ms. Wittenberg said.

But not everyone is on board with the idea of attempting to go ahead with the race given the myriad issues currently troubling the city.

"They need to cancel and focus on getting their city back together," Crystal Sara Martin wrote on the New York City Marathon's event page. "It doesn't seem right to continue to have this marathon when their city and their own people are affected."

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– With a report from New York Times News Service

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