Smith expects New York Marathon changes

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 13:34 01/11/2012

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New Zealand Olympian Kim Smith has arrived safely in storm-battered New York and is now waiting to see what course changes will be required for Monday's (NZT) New York City Marathon.

Smith has driven down to the city from her home in Providence, Rhode Island - she was originally going to travel by train but the tracks were waterlogged - and has settled into her hotel near Central Park in mid-Manhattan.

The 30-year-old from South Auckland came through the super storm unscathed but hasn't had a chance to undertake a first-hand assessment of the damage to lower Manhattan.

''It was fine where we were; Providence wasn't as badly affected as the coastal areas,'' she said today. ''Where we are in New York, near Central Park, it doesn't look too bad but obviously lower Manhattan is where most of the damage is.''

Despite the devastation caused in America's largest city by Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has confirmed the marathon will go ahead. Race officials and athletes had been awaiting final word from city officials regarding the staging of the 42.19km race.

The route through the five boroughs mostly avoids the areas hit hardest by flooding, though Smith reckoned there would ''definitely'' be changes to the course.

However, flying runners in from out of town, and getting them to the start line, might be the most tricky assignment for organisers.

The start is on Staten Island and about half the entrants normally would take the ferry and others would take buses through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Both were closed because of flooding.

The subway and commuter trains may also not be operating on race day, though airports should be open by then.
About 47,000 runners had entered the marathon but organisers have no idea how many will make it to the start line.

''We will keep all options open with regard to making any accommodations and adjustments necessary to race day and race weekend events,'' said Mary Wittenberg, president of the New York Road Runners.

Smith finished fifth in the NYC Marathon the past two years.

She was a disappointing 15th at the London Olympics but bounced back to win the Boston Athletic Association half marathon last month and pocket $US100,000 for winning a three-race distance medley series.

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