El Paso, TEXAS - Sunday marked the day the ING New York City Marathon was meant to run.
Instead of thousands of runners, streets remained calm. Replacing water bottles, runners, and police barricades were men and women recovering from the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy.
Larisa Pitchkolan, a marathon runner from El Paso, was in New York City. Instead of waking up early to trek 26.2 miles, she woke up and ran with a group of runners for a fun run. All of them had traveled from across the country, or in some cases around the globe, to perform in America's most famed road race. Instead, they found out on Friday that the race had been called off.
"It was disheartening," said Pitchkolan. "We got off our shuttle bus and found out they'd cancelled the race."
She had planned to stay in El Paso last week. Once Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, she assumed the race was off. However, race clubs sent emails saying the marathon was ready to go. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke publicly saying the marathon would be a much-needed economic boost, adding it would show the resilience of it's people.
Fast forward to Friday morning, the same day Pitchkolan made it to New York City, Bloomberg issued a joint statement with ING New York City Marathon organizers calling the race off. It came after mounting pressure from natives upset over the idea of water bottles, generators, and police manning barricades being used for the race when people remained in need.
"It's clear that it was becoming the source of controversy and division, we would not want a cloud to hang over the race," read a portion of the statement jointly released by Bloomberg.
"I wish they would have made the decision early-on, but I think the natives are happy they aren't doing the marathon," said Pitchkolan.
Pitchkolan had trained for months, even fought back from a knee injury to prepare for Sunday's race. She said she understood the need for the change, but didn't feel it was fair for organizers to change their mind so late in the game.
Sunday morning wasn't a marathon, instead a fun run. Pitchkolan told KVIA that she would run with her fellow El Pasoans in New York City and a group from France instead. While it wasn't the same, she said she would look forward to another year, and another race.