They train for four months, maybe six months a year. They run unreasonable amounts, becoming obsessed with mileage spread sheets and Epsom salt baths, they wake up before dawn to sneak runs in, hoping not to anger the running-widowed family. Sunday mornings are spent on dreaded 20-mile training runs while friends are brunching with Bloody Marys — all in anticipation of crossing the finish line after running 26.2 miles through the streets of the city. 


But for people who trained to trot through New York City’s five boroughs last Sunday, those efforts were put to waste when the city made the wise call to cancel the event in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. A small price to pay in comparison to what so many storm victims lost, but no matter how much runners may have been in agreement with the decision, their legs remained antsy and longing to run.


One large group put their training to use by descending upon Staten Island on marathon Sunday and running supplies stuffed in backpacks to hard-hit areas. Another group ran a DIY marathon, looping Central Park four times for an unofficial 26-miler.


And many runners looked longingly — like kids coveting puppies in a pet shop window — to the sold-out Philadelphia Marathon taking place on Nov 18. Easily accessible to East Coasters and scheduled only two weeks after New York’s scrubbed race, a few easy tweaks to the training schedule would make the City of Brotherly Love’s world-class run a viable alternative. But alas, the Philadelphia race sold out its 30,000 spots in early October.


But in a statement released last night, Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that the Philadelphia Marathon will be opened for an additional 3,000 race participants who were registered, but unable to compete, in New York’s race.


New York City runners can enter a lottery to register for the Philadelphia Marathon, beginning Nov 7 at 9 a.m. EST until Nov. 8 at 5 p.m. EST.  


“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the many challenges created by it, we are honored to welcome New York City marathon participants to Philadelphia,” said Nutter. “We understand that marathoners have invested a great deal of time, training and dedication to prepare, and so we’ve decided that adding up to 3,000 competitors is something we can do to support the running community.”


Mary Wittenberg, CEO of New York Road Runners, which produces the New York City Marathon, said today, “We are grateful to the Philadelphia Marathon and Mayor Nutter for their generosity in inviting runners who were affected by the cancelation of the ING NYC marathon.”


The registration fee for the NYC runners is $200, half of which will be donated to the Hurricane Relief Fund for the American Red Cross. A computerized lottery system will randomly choose the runners; the selection will take place immediately after the deadline, and those chosen will be notified by e-mail.


Eligible New York marathoners interested in applying for the Philadelphia Marathon should visit  And for runners who want to go the extra mile, so to speak, visit to create a personalized online fundraiser for disaster relief.


Related race stories on MNN:

Sold-out Philadelphia Marathon opens 3,000 slots for NYC entrants
The cancellation of the New York Marathon left 50,000 runners with restless legs and no race. Organizers over Philadelphia step in to help by opening new slots