Scott Stringer Joins Ranks of Marathon Opponents

race nyc marathon Scott Stringer Joins Ranks of Marathon Opponents

Can the city really handle a marathon right now?

“My first instinct was sure, we’re going to be ready for the big event. We can do anything in the world. We’re New Yorkers and that’s what New Yorkers do,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. “But after visiting shelters around the city, seeing the devastation in Staten Island and Breezy Point and knowing that people are trapped in buildings on the Lower East Side and we cannot get to them, this is not the time.”

On Friday, Mr. Stringer voiced his opposition to holding the marathon this Sunday, joining a growing number of politicians who feel that the city should not host a major event while so many residents are struggling for access to electricity, food and water.

Even in the midst of rising opposition, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city officials have pressed on with plans to hold the marathon, asserting that it’s an important sign of resiliency for the city and will help raise money for relief as well as reviving the local economy. The marathon has rechristened itself a “race to recover,” declaring its dedication to helping communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Still, an increasing number of New Yorkers are criticizing the decision to go through with the marathon, arguing that the resources needed to host thousands of runners cannot be spared when whole neighborhoods still lack basic necessities. In a particularly unfortunate coincidence, the race’s starting line is in Staten Island, which suffered the highest death toll in the city with 19 dead. And the number may rise in the days to come as search teams continue digging through the debris of thousands of destroyed homes. Staten Island Councilman James Oddo has called the decision to hold the race “idiotic,” and at least one Brooklyn runner is planning to scrap her race plans in favor of volunteering in the battered borough.

“I think it’s admirable that Bloomberg wanted to hold the event to show the city’s resiliency. The mayor has done an excellent job providing resources around the city,” said Mr. Stringer. “But right now we don’t have enough generators and people are lining the streets of the Lower East Side looking for food and water. We cannot take fire services and ambulances away from the places that need them.”

kvelsey@observer.com