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1 year after Sandy, NYC marathoners ready to run

October 31, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York City Marathon is hoping to make a triumphant comeback this weekend after Superstorm Sandy forced its cancellation last year.

Security will be heightened following the deadly bombing at the Boston Marathon in April.

The finish line in Central Park has become perhaps the biggest worry after two homemade bombs exploded near the finish line in Boston, killing three people and injuring more than 260.

New York for the first time is fencing off part of the western perimeter of the park for the race. Spectators will have to pass through security checkpoints to enter that area.

The race has long been an international event. Many of the estimated 45,000 runners are from overseas.

“I’m not going to stop running the marathon because somebody thought it was a good idea to blow up a couple of bombs in Boston,” said 50-year-old runner Dave Kleckner. “I don’t intend to run scared.”

Sandy forced Kleckner and his family out of their Manhattan apartment building, but he was still preparing to run the marathon when it was abruptly canceled just days before it was to start.

A few months later, he ran the Boston Marathon and finished before the bombs went off.

After the 2012 New York race was called off, runners had the option of taking refunds or accepting guaranteed slots in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 marathons. Of last year’s 60,000 registered runners, 21,000 decided to take the guaranteed slots and 30,000 took the refunds.

But for some athletes, it was still a bit too soon to return to New York.

Irish runner Stephen Toal flew into the city last year determined to cap off his personal goal: running the London, Berlin and New York marathons before he turned 50. But he said when he saw photographs of the “utter devastation” from the storm, he understood why the race was canceled.

A few months later, Toal ran Boston, where the sound of the bombs going off reminded him of the sectarian violence he had lived through in Northern Ireland years ago.

He says he’ll return to New York to run next year.

“I didn’t think this year would be a good year to run it because it would be the anniversary of so many things,” Toal said. “Including those that died, those that are probably struggling in terms of, maybe, homes, jobs, livelihoods.”

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