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NYC marathoners -- with no race to run due to Sandy -- can get entry-fee refund

By Kristina Sgueglia, CNN
December 21, 2012 -- Updated 0131 GMT (0931 HKT)
iReporter Rachel Cauvin says that every New Yorker should watch the ING New York City Marathon at least once in their lives.
iReporter Rachel Cauvin says that every New Yorker should watch the ING New York City Marathon at least once in their lives.
  • The New York City Marathon was canceled in the wake of Superstorm Sandy
  • Race organizers say runners can now get refund for their entry fees
  • Or runners can opt for guaranteed entry into an upcoming race

New York (CNN) -- They never got to run their race because of Superstorm Sandy, but ING New York City Marathon entrants can now at least recoup their entry fee, organizers of the marquee 26-mile test of human endurance said Thursday.

Citing "extraordinary circumstances," the New York Road Runners organization is offering runners the option of getting a full refund of their entry fee. Entry fees for the canceled 2012 race varied from $216 for members of the New York Road Runners and $255 for non-members to $347 for runners from outside the United States. The refund offer exclude an $11 processing fee, race organizers said.

Race organizers also offered two other options -- a guaranteed place in the always-crowded field for the New York Marathon one year during the next three years, or guaranteed entry into the NYC Half Marathon in March. But in those cases, runners would not get back their fees for this year's race and they would have to pay fees for whichever future race they chose.

Runners vented frustrations about the latter two options on the marathon's Facebook page, complaining that they unfairly created a one-race-for-two-fees deal.

Meanwhile, John Shostrom,captain of the Brooklyn Road Runners, told CNN the offers by marathon organizers gave runners "a decent range of options to choose from."

The situation is "really good for people who are leaning toward option one (refund of 2012 entry fee)." Shostrom, a copy editor for Sports Illustrated, said Thursday.

But the other two options make for "an income maximizer for the Road Runners in terms of all those people who feel like they really have to do another race ... it's a way of getting double payment for one actual race."

Whichever options runners choose, a considerable total amount of money is involved. For the 2011 New York City Marathon, more than 47,000 runners paid their fees and pounded the pavements on a 26.2-mile course that snaked through all five of the city's boroughs.

The 2012 marathon, scheduled for November 4,was canceled for the first time in its history so as not to draw resources and attention away from the response to Superstorm Sandy, which had blasted the New York and New Jersey areas only days before. By the scheduled race day, many areas were still without electricity and thousands of people were in need of aid.

Just as the cancellation marked a first for the marathon in its 42-year history, race organizers pointed out that the refund offer also was a first.

"We started with the premise that despite (organizers') no-refund policy, we needed to be able to offer runners that choice. Beyond that, we wanted to make sure they had as full options to run again as possible," Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of New York Road Runners told CNN in an e-mail.

Wittenberg said while race organizers would have liked to have offered waived entry fees for other events, "we couldn't do that protect our other races and running programs."

Runners have until January 25 to choose an option.

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