TODAY   |  November 03, 2012

And it’s off: NYC Marathon canceled

In a city devastated by Sandy, holding a race through five battered boroughs just seemed like the wrong idea, according to officials. “I think there’s a thin line between demonstrating resilience and being insensitive,” one runner said. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this year's new york city marathon is over before it ever got started. new york's mayor cancelled it two days before runners hit the starting line . stephanie gosk is in central park with more on that. stephanie , good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, erica. this is the first time in the new york city marathon 's 40-year history has ever been cancelled. extraordinary circumstances. since the moment that mayor michael bloomberg announced it was going forward, anger began to build, not just among the victims of hurricane sandy, but also their public officials and even some runners. it finally hit a tipping point. in a city devastated by this storm, holding a road race through five battered boroughs finally just seemed like the wrong idea.

>> the marathon ceased to be about running and it was all about how best to aid new york city .

>> reporter: it was a decision that left some runners disappointed.

>> i feel for all the people that have problems, but you don't pull the plug at the last minute. he could have made that decision days and days ago.

>> reporter: but many city residents relieved.

>> i think there's a thin line between demonstrating resiliency and being insensitive.

>> reporter: the reversal came as a surprise. mayor michael bloomberg had defended his decision to hold the new york city marathon on sunday, a race that had never been cancelled in its 40-year history.

>> new york has to show that we are here and that we're going to recover, and give people something to cheer about.

>> reporter: but far from cheering, many new yorkers had been angry about the possibility of diverting city resources at a time of suffering. police, sanitation workers who may have been needed elsewhere.

>> they'd rather have a marathon and give the water to people running than the people who need it that don't even have house light or heating.

>> reporter: food, water and porta-potties had already been trucked on to the course. enough generators to power 400 homes were standing by, while many new yorkers were still in the dark. the outrage of it all had been building for days, especially on staten island , the hard-hit borough where the race was to begin.

>> the city of new york right now is prepared for a marathon . we're pulling bodies out of the water. you see the disconnect here?

>> reporter: instead of holding a press conference, the mayor released a statement. it reads, "we would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it. we cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event -- even one as meaningful fernandez 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." so there will be some relief for people that criticized the marathon , but it will probably be short-lived. the city has a lot of recovery to do. erica?

>> that's for sure. stephanie gosk in central park , thank you.