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Ebola cautions for New York City Marathon

Police and U.S. Coast Guard helicopters fly overhead

Police and U.S. Coast Guard helicopters fly overhead during the New York City Marathon as runners cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, just after the starting point of the route. (Nov. 3, 2013) Credit: AP

New York City Marathon officials, amid the frenzy over keeping the Ebola virus from spreading in the United States and aware that roughly 40 percent of the race's 50,000 entrants hail from other nations, already have determined that the Nov. 2 field does not include a single runner who lists Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea as a residence.

Neither competitors in the marathon's professional division nor amateurs registered to run -- or even international volunteers -- are based in those West African nations severely impacted by Ebola.

Given the training required for the 26-mile, 385-yard race -- a rule of thumb for completing the race is the ability to run about eight miles per day for months before the event -- any person suffering with Ebola would be highly unlikely to make it to the starting line.

Nevertheless, marathon officials, according to a statement by race spokesman Chris Weiller, are "carefully monitoring updates from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the NYC Department of Health and will continue to coordinate closely with our health department partners at the City and State levels as we work on race-day preparations. The safety and security of our runners, spectators, volunteers and staff is always our main priority."

Meanwhile, the Ebola outbreak will get the attention of marathon participants running for charitable causes. The 70 runners who signed with Team UNICEF last spring, committed to raise at lease $3,500 apiece for the organization's global initiative for children's relief in exchange for a guaranteed spot in the marathon, now will have their donations re-directed to the Ebola emergency, according to UNICEF spokeswoman Kirsten Sheldon.

The UNICEF project expects to raise at least $250,000 and, in an agreement with the Paul G. Allen Foundation, the total will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $3.6 million in the Ebola fight.

There are more than 300 charitable organizations with similar arrangements for guaranteed entry into the marathon, including AmeriCares, which also has announced it will direct donations to Ebola relief.

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