NEW YORK CITY — Four local women traveled to the Big Apple last week to participate in the New York City Marathon, but found their plans changed by Hurricane Sandy.
Jayme Brant, Lone Cooke, Nancy Dixon and Kelly Hull were all scheduled to run in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Brant said three of the four had run a marathon before and all of them were excited about participating for a good cause.
Brant is the daughter of Dr. Jim Reeves, while Dixon is the wife of Dr. David Dixon and Cooke is part of the Cooke Rentals family.
The community banded together to raise money for the marathon entry fees and trip expenses. Brant said they joked about having T-shirts made that said, “We sold 3,000 chicken pies to get here.”
When the hurricane hit the East Coast so hard, the women figured the race would be canceled. However, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city needed this event to help start the healing process.
All four of them struggled with whether they should go to New York or stay here. Part of it was worrying that the efforts going into putting the race on could be put to better use in helping those affected by the storm.
Plus, the city was messy and in disarray so the experience of taking part in the race wouldn’t be exactly what they had envisioned.
Brant said she had to avoid social media like Facebook and Twitter because people were arguing quite nastily on both sides of the decision to hold the race.
After talking it over, the foursome decided to go.
“We abandoned our families every weekend for four months for training,” Brant said. And with all the people who bought pies to help the cause, she felt an obligation to take part.
There were families left homeless by the hurricane who were staying in NYC hotels. Some of them appeared on a news program telling how they were told that they had to check out because of joggers who had made weekend reservations.
Brant said she could feel for these people. There were large stores of water bottles and several power generators set aside for the race that were better off going to storm shelters, she said, so the decision to cancel the race was okay with her.
Still, she and her friends wished it could have been sooner as they only found out at 5:30 p.m. on Friday for a weekend race.
Sure, there was disappointment, but the women made their peace with it, she said.
“It’s all about perspective,” she explained.
Still, the women were geared up for a big run through the city. Since the 26.2-mile marathon was out, the four decided to get up Sunday morning and do a five-mile jog around Central Park.
That’s where the race first was held in 1970, she noted.
When they arrived at the park, however, they found that they were far from alone.
As a CBS news crew discovered, shortly after dawn, groups of runners started gathering on the edges of Central Park to warm up, take photos and drop off clothing and other items for storm victims.
A group of Italian runners stretched en masse near the Plaza Hotel. The German contingent started from Columbus Circle. Everyone plunged into the park to pursue their own race. Some ran around the park clockwise, some counterclockwise, startling dog walkers.
There were 45,000 runners in the 2010 marathon, and estimates of the park on Sunday were close to half that despite no organizers or staff of volunteers.
Instead, what transpired was better.
People saw the runners circling the park and began to gather round, said Brant. The crowd began cheering the runners on. Strangers started searching out water bottles and bringing them out to the course. Others brought crates of fresh fruit so the joggers could keep their potassium up.
It was a special feeling, according to Brant. Maybe even more so than any official race might have been.
Those who were scheduled to run in the NYC Marathon were eligible for deferments to run in 2013, but Brant said she and her friends haven’t made a decision on that yet.
Reach Jeff Linville at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1920.