More than 47,000 runners were scheduled to participate today in the New York City Marathon, canceled at the last minute because of Hurricane Sandy.
Matt Krieger, a Jerusalem-based public relations executive, was one of more than 30,000 out-of-towners signed up for the annul event. He’s still going to run – not in New York, but in Jerusalem.
At 7:00 this evening, the former New Yorker will set off from his home in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem and run the 26.2 mile marathon on his own.
“I decided that since I had put six months of training into this, I wasn’t going to let that go to waste,” he said. “But more importantly, the marathon for me was a way to raise money for a cause I believe in, and I wasn’t going to disappoint all the people I had committed to.”
Krieger, a 32-year-old father of three, has already raised close to $3,000 for Aleh, an Israeli non-profit organization that helps children with severe mental and physical disabilities, from individual sponsors. That’s already more than the $2,500 goal he set for himself, and he plans to continue raising money throughout the day for this personal marathon he’s dubbed the Matt-a-thon.
“Thank God, I can run,” he says. “Just thinking of all those children who wish they could run but can’t is what drives me.” Unlike most marathon runners, he notes, “The running itself is not something I particularly enjoy.”
Last year, Krieger, who moved to Israel nine years ago, participated for the first time in the New York City Marathon. He has also run the half-marathon in Tel Aviv and other smaller races around Israel.
On Thursday, he decided to cancel his participation in this year’s New York City Marathon because relatives he had been planning to stay with in the area still did not have electricity.
That was a day before New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the cancellation of the marathon, bowing to public pressure and an overriding consensus that it was not in good taste to hold the marathon after dozens of New Yorkers had been killed in the hurricane and thousands were still without electricity.
The route Krieger will take this evening will take him through the neighborhoods of Rehavia, Katamon, Kiryat Moshe, Har-Nof and finally Gan Sacher where a group of friends will join him for the final 7-mile stretch.
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