NY Marathon canceled, but runners stride on — on their own

Paul Casino
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Updated 01 November 2020

NY Marathon canceled, but runners stride on — on their own

  • The annual race, originally set for Sunday, was one of many events canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic

NEW YORK: In Central Park or along the Hudson River, runners will complete the storied New York City Marathon — just not along the same course.

The annual race, originally set for Sunday, was one of many events canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but diehard runners are not missing their shot in what would have been the marathon’s 50th year.

“The day they announced that it wasn’t going to happen, that’s the day I said I’m going to run it anyway,” said Paul Casino, 55, who has competed every year since 2004. “If I stop, I’m going to regret it.”

Casino, who is originally from the Philippines, even joined hundreds of people who ran the marathon in 2012, despite its cancelation following the direct hit from Superstorm Sandy.

Organizers canceled the marathon on June 24 but, like many other major road races, offered runners the option of completing the 26.2 miles between Oct. 17 and Nov. 1 — anywhere in the world.

A smartphone app measures the distance covered, allowing the competitor to log an official time and — if they finish — obtain the coveted finisher’s medal.

For many runners, months of lockdown and no other races on the horizon cramped their preparations. For some, like Matt Coneybeare, the coronavirus took a direct toll.

After suffering through two days of acute symptoms in early April, the computer engineer needed a month — but only a month — to get back to where he was pre-Covid.

Coneybeare has already completed his marathon, running through four of New York’s five boroughs in a little more than three hours.

He had to skip Staten Island because the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge linking it to Brooklyn — closed for the tens of thousands of runners during a normal marathon — has no pedestrian path.

Casino is keeping his Manhattan marathon itinerary a carefully guarded secret — but says if seen from the sky, the route design will spell out a clear tribute to the world’s biggest marathon.

The banker said he couldn’t just do “four laps” around Central Park.

“That’s just mentally draining. I don’t want to run it just for the sake of doing 26.2 miles. That’s just not fun,” he told AFP.

“And so I thought about it and then I looked at Google Maps...”

Casino admits he stopped running for two months out of fear of being infected at the start of the health crisis, and sank into a depression because of the lack of exercise and the lockdown.

Usually, he would run 60-80 miles a week while training for a marathon.

He headed to therapy, which he says helped. And then he started to run again.

“The way I see the marathon, it’s like a goal. It’s perfect timing at the end of the year,” he said.

Many runners, like Coneybeare, said exercise helped them keep going as the pandemic dragged on.

“The routine of getting out there every day and running just keeps me sane throughout all of this,” he said. “It was important for my mental health.”

Casino, who says he gained 15 pounds because of the pandemic, says he has no specific goal time, especially given that he will have to stop for traffic lights and cars.

For Coneybeare, “no one’s ever going to compare a virtual race versus a real race. It all comes down to whether you feel that you did a good job on your own or not.”

A virtual marathon is a personal challenge — no one is watching, there are no real competitors, and given the need to remain distant from others, it is a solitary pursuit.

Jack Hirschowitz, a 75-year-old psychiatrist, says running this year will certainly be less stressful.

He normally juggles while running — earning the admiration of onlookers — which makes it harder to look ahead, so completing the race on his own will be a lot easier.

In a regular marathon, “I have to dodge people and sometimes you get stuck behind a group,” he says.


Doctors warn over Delhi’s ‘suicidal’ half-marathon

Updated 27 November 2020

Doctors warn over Delhi’s ‘suicidal’ half-marathon

  • Organizers say the “highest level of safety-standards, with bio-secure zones” have been laid on for the race starting at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
  • Delhi has been hit by a winter pollution crisis each year for the past decade when crop-stubble burning from nearby states, cold temperatures and car and industrial pollution produce a toxic mix

NEW DELHI: Top doctors have warned elite runners are taking a major health risk by competing in Sunday’s New Delhi half-marathon in the midst of a major coronavirus outbreak and soaring air pollution.
Women’s marathon world record-holder Brigid Kosgei from Kenya and Ethiopia’s two-time men’s winner Andamlak Belihu are among the 49 elite athletes running the 21-kilometer (13.1 mile) race, while thousands of amateurs are taking part virtually.
Organizers say the “highest level of safety-standards, with bio-secure zones” have been laid on for the race starting at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
But with New Delhi recording more than 500,000 virus cases, and air quality in the world’s most polluted capital hovering between ‘unhealthy’ and ‘hazardous’, health experts said the athletes should think twice.
“It will be suicidal for runners to run the race this time. We have such high levels of pollution, we have the risk of coronavirus,” Arvind Kumar, founder trustee of the Lung Care Foundation, told AFP.
“With the presence of this twin threat if people are still running despite knowing everything, well, I have no words to express my anguish.”
“Whether you are an international elite runner or you are a small boy from a village, the damaging potential of a damaging agent remains the same,” said the doctor.
Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the country’s top research body, told AFP that “in an ideal situation” the race should not be run.
“Because of high levels of air pollution, exercising outside in this weather sometimes can lead to aggravation of underlying lung problems,” he said.
“Even if you are an elite runner the air pollution would still affect your lung.”
Normally thousands of amateurs would also take part, but because of the coronavirus they have been told to run their chosen route between Wednesday and Sunday and chart their time on an app.
Delhi has been hit by a winter pollution crisis each year for the past decade when crop-stubble burning from nearby states, cold temperatures and car and industrial pollution produce a toxic mix.
This year, the Indian capital is also a major concern in the battle against the coronavirus. India is the world’s second worst-hit country behind the United States, with about 9.3 million cases.
The city is considering imposing a night-time curfew because of the rising number of cases, according to media reports.
Kosgei, who is visiting India for the first time, acknowledged her concerns about traveling for the race.
“We have definitely been affected by Covid-19. I had to convince my parents and family back home to allow me to visit Delhi for the half-marathon,” she said.
“The virus has affected most of the sporting events. But it is important for us to take care of ourselves.”
As in other countries, nearly all sport in India has been canceled.
After repeated delays, the Indian Premier League cricket went ahead in the United Arab Emirates and the Indian Super League football is being held in a bio-secure “bubble” in Goa.