NEW YORK -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says New York City Marathon has been canceled.
His statement Friday came after mounting criticism that this was not the time for a race.
With people in storm-ravaged areas still shivering without electricity and the death toll in New York City at more than 40, many New Yorkers recoiled at the prospect of police officers being assigned to protect a marathon on Sunday.
An estimated 40,000 runners from around the world had been expected to take part in the 26.2-mile event. The race had been scheduled to start in Staten Island, one of the hardest-hit areas by this week's storm.
"We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it," the mayor said in a statement. "We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event — even one as meaningful as this — to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track."
Action News caught up with three local runners making the trip to New York for Sunday's race. Dana and Haley Stallings left for the Big Apple Friday called the decision disappointing. The two now plan to stay in the city over the weekend to help with recovery efforts.
"We're here in New York already," said Dana. "I'm hoping they're going to put some resources together so we can now help in some way." We want to go out and help those since we're here already."
The Stallings' help reaches beyond New York City. The pair raised $12,000 for the Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech. Haley suffers from moderate to severe hearing loss and graduated from the Jacksonville campus.