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NYC Marathon still planning, hoping to race Sunday after Sandy

CBSSports.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- The 26 miles might be the easy part.

The biggest challenge for this New York City Marathon on Sunday could be getting to the start, not the finish.

The mayor of storm-battered New York says the race is still on, but flying in runners from out of town will be tricky, and there may not be a subway to get everyone to the starting line.

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Superstorm Sandy shut down transportation, closed airports, flooded streets and left scores of neighborhoods without power -- formidable obstacles for the organizers.

Still, they were moving forward with plans Tuesday, leaving open the possibility of changes from past years.

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

The 26.2-mile route through the five boroughs mostly avoids the areas hit hardest by flooding. Organizers were expecting nearly 50,000 runners before the storm hit. However they have no idea how many will actually make it into start the race.

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

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it could be four or five days before the subways were running again, which means they may not be available on race day. Commuter trains may not be operating normally, either.

The starting line is on Staten Island and about half the entrants normally would take the ferry and others would take buses through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Both were closed because of flooding.

The marathon was projected to pour $340 million into the city, but it also requires major support from municipal departments strained by the monster storm that wreaked havoc Monday evening.

"The city is rightfully focused on assessment, restoration and recovery," Wittenberg said.

JFK Airport was set to reopen for some flights Wednesday; it wasn't known when LaGuardia and Newark airports would reopen, making it difficult to get in and out of the New York area.

Nearly 20,000 amateur international runners were scheduled to fly in for the race. Family and friends of runners must somehow find a way to their viewing spots.

Runners who can't get to New York should have until Saturday instead of Wednesday to withdraw from the race and reserve a spot in the 2012 marathon, but they won't get a refund and will have to pay again next year.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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