NYC Marathon Runners Offered Refunds in Sandy-Canceled Race

NYC Marathon Offers Refunds to Runners After Sandy Cancellation
A worker takes down signs at the finish line of the New York City Marathon after the race was cancelled. Photographer: Mehdi Taamallah /AFP/Getty Images

Runners prevented from racing in this year’s New York City Marathon due to Hurricane Sandy will get a full refund or entry into the race in one of the next three years, organizers announced today.

The New York Road Runners, which stages the race and has a no-refund policy, said “extraordinary circumstances” forced the group to offer a return of the entry fee -- which ranged from $216 to $347 -- to runners who hadn’t canceled before Oct. 24, 2012. The largest Atlantic storm on record struck on Oct. 29, with the race set for Nov. 4.

Runners who want to return were offered a guaranteed spot in the 2013, 2014, or 2015 race, NYRR said in a letter to participants, which was also released by its press office. Those entrants will be required to pay the entry and processing fees for the year of the race they choose. If the entry fee increases, runners will continue to pay the 2012 price.

“We are sorry that it has taken us longer to resolve these issues than we had originally hoped,” NYRR President Mary Wittenberg said in the statement. “We have been working to offer the best possible solutions in order to meet the needs of the many different groups associated with the marathon.”

Organizers also offered the choice of a guaranteed entry for the 2013 NYC Half marathon, scheduled for March 17. Runners must pay the entry and processing fees for the 13.1-mile race.

‘Indecisive’ NYRR

“I’m glad they gave the runners a variety of options,” Adam Levy, an Atlanta-based runner who had planned to compete in this year’s race, said in an e-mail. “It’s the least they can do after being so indecisive and costing us in canceled flights and hotels.”

Levy said he lost $850 due to the cancellation. The Road Runners won’t cover additional fees incurred by participants. Those who entered the race through a charity or an international travel group will have the same refund or rescheduling options, NYRR said.

The marathon, with about 20,000 overseas entrants in its field of 47,000, was canceled two days before the scheduled running as people in the New York area worked to recover from Sandy. The hurricane killed 41 people in the city and left 4.8 million in the region without power. U.S. President Barack Obama asked Congress this month for $60.4 billion to pay for repairs.

Relief Effort

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg canceled the race two days after he said it would go on. The initial plans to hold the event, which hasn’t been skipped since its first edition in 1970, drew widespread criticism, with many arguing that race manpower and supplies such as generators could be used to help the recovery effort. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

The event accounts for 40,000 more hotel rooms than usual per day for at least five days, NYC & Co., the city’s tourism office, said at the time.

NYRR, which gains more than $20 million from the marathon, was seeking as much as $15 million in insurance coverage from the cancellation, the amount that comes from registration fees, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The group had been in negotiations with a syndicate of insurers put together through the Lloyd’s of London insurance marketplace, according to the Journal.

Along with entry refunds, fees associated with other marathon-related events, including a Nov. 3 dinner, reserved grandstand seating and runner-tracking services, will also be returned.

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