The 2012 New York City Marathon may not be televised, but it is being organized on an unofficial basis by men and women who have banded together to run anyway. The official race was belatedly cancelled on Friday in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Teams from Canada, Germany, and Switzerland (identifiable because they carried their national flags) started running on their own before 8 AM Sunday morning.
Lance Svendsen of Summit, N.J. put up a Facebook page after the official cancellation and spread the word about the unofficial run with the Twitter hashtag #runanyway. "I organized this running movement so that people who were planning to run the NYC marathon for causes could complete their 26.2 mile obligation," Lance said as a crowd of several hundred formed at the marathon finish line in Central Park. "We don’t have any water bottles. We didn't ask for any at all. We didn't want to take anything away from any relief efforts at all."
Instead, Lance asked everyone to bring enough sustenance (water, gels and the like) for themselves and one other person. Proceeds were also being collected by Svenson's church for the relief of Hurricane victims in Staten Island. No scores will be kept. Lance emphasized the event was a "run, not a race."
Groups who answered the #runanyway call took off in waves of 10 to 30 people, starting at the Central Park finish line shortly after 8 AM.
Taking a page from when the long-distance course was located entirely in Central Park in the early 1970s, the unofficial marathoners will circle the park's six-mile loop four times. Unlike those early pioneers, however, they will be able to double-check their distance with GPS computers on their watches.