NYC Marathon Staging Area Jeopardized by Government Shutdown

Thursday, 10 Oct 2013 10:28 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The New York City marathon is looking for a new staging area for the iconic run — the traditional spot where more than 45,000 runners gather is closed because of the shutdown.
 
Marathon officials are considering backup sites for the Nov. 3 race because Fort Wadsworth may be off-limits — and park workers furloughed — if the federal shutdown continues, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Mary Wittenberg, CEO of New York Road Runners, which operates the marathon, said the organization is about 70 percent finished with a contingency plan for a second staging location.

She said the alternative would also be on Staten Island, where Fort Wadsworth is located.

Wittenberg told the Journal she hoped the shutdown impasse would end by race day, but officials needed to have a just-in-case option ready.

"Hope is not a strategy," she told the newspaper.

Runners can spend up to four hours in the holding area before the race starts, in staggered waves, on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn.

The fort — part of Gateway National Recreation Area and controlled by the National Park Service — is the preferred site because it has security from the Park Service and the Coast Guard, and is big enough to hold the mob of runners close to the starting line.

"It would be better to stay where we are," she said.

The Journal reported city officials are working with organizers on the contingency plans.

"We will find a way to run the marathon," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the Journal.

First held in 1970, the New York City Marathon attracts about 47,000 runners and 12,000 volunteers. An estimated 2.5 million spectators typically line the course, which winds through all five city boroughs.

The race was canceled last year in the wake of superstorm Sandy, which ravaged the New York City area.

Also weighing on minds of officials for this year's run is security; additional protection is planned after the Boston marathon bombing, which killed three people and injured dozens more in an attack near the finish line in April.


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