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Mayor Bloomberg: NYC Marathon should go on

The New York City skyline and Hudson River

The New York City skyline and Hudson River are seen from Hoboken, NJ as Hurricane Sandy approaches on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Hurricane Sandy continued on its path Monday, as the storm forced the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets, sending coastal residents fleeing, and threatening a dangerous mix of high winds and soaking rain. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes) Credit: AP Photo Charles Sykes

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he expects the NYC Marathon to go on as scheduled Sunday.

Bloomberg spoke at a news conference Tuesday after superstorm Sandy pounded the city. Five days before the marathon, public transportation was shut, airports closed and streets flooded, with power out in many neighborhoods.

Marathon organizers say they are moving ahead with plans for the race, leaving open the possibility of changes from past years because of the storm.

New York Road Runners says in a statement that "the marathon has always been a special day for New Yorkers as a symbol of the vitality and resiliency of this city."

On Monday, as superstorm Sandy started to pound the city, NYC Marathon officials insisted they would have enough time before Sunday's race to prepare the course and for runners to travel to New York.

But it was uncertain Tuesday when life in the city would return to normal, and organizers promised an update on marathon preparations.

Nearly 20,000 amateur international runners need to get in the country. Another 30,000 or so American entrants must get to the starting line; the family and friends of runners must somehow find a way to their viewing spots.

And on Tuesday, it was unclear when public transit, river crossings and airports would reopen.

The marathon pours an estimated $350 million into the city each year. But it also requires major support from city departments that are being strained by the storm.

New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg said Monday they had a long list of contingency plans already in place to deal with any obstacles that might arise. The biggest concerns centered on getting runners to the start on Staten Island.

The 26.2-mile route through the five boroughs mostly avoids areas considered at highest risk for flooding.

"We have time on our side," Wittenberg said Monday.

NYRR organizes about 50 events a year and has dealt with issues ranging from heavy snow to lightning to security concerns in the past.

"We've been through close to it all," Wittenberg said.

Organizers expected to reschedule flights to get all the elite athletes to New York in time. Wittenberg hoped that most of the amateur international runners signed up would make it. The hours for number pickup will probably be extended for those who arrive late Saturday.

For runners who can't get to New York, the deadline to withdraw from the race and guarantee a spot in next year's event likely will be pushed back from Wednesday to Saturday. Under normal NYRR policy, organizers won't refund entry fees, and runners would have to pay again next year.

The ceremonial finish-line painting scheduled for Wednesday was canceled, along with a news conference Tuesday. A children's run Thursday was moved from Central Park to an indoor track, and the pavilion in the park has been taken down for the time being. Wittenberg said generators or backup systems were in place in key locations.

Extra time is always built into planning, and 700 part-time workers and 8,000 volunteers ensure the course can be set up quickly.

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