NYC Marathon runners help with relief efforts

(CBS News) When Sunday's New York City Marathon was canceled on Friday, nearly 50,000 runners from 125 countries had no race to run. Many of them ran anyway, while others got involved in superstorm Sandy relief efforts.

However, the controversy over the race lingers.

Hundreds of would-be marathon runners in orange jerseys set out on a new course on Sunday. They carried relief supplies to devastated parts of Staten Island.

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Michael Reed trained for almost four months for Sunday's marathon. He'd spent thousands on preparations, hotels, and flying in from London.

"I got on a plane expecting to run, hoping to run," he said. "At first, the reaction is a bit of a disappointment. But you get over it when you see everything that is going on."

Initially, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city would hold the race as planned. But, following Sandy, many were outraged that resources and attention would go to a race rather than relief.

Friday afternoon, Bloomberg backtracked, saying, "We just don't need the distraction."

Canceling just two days before the marathon created its own stir. Mary Pilon, a sports reporter for the New York Times, said, "The decision could have been made earlier in terms of international travelers, elite runners. But hindsight is 20/20. I think that the anger on Friday was a lot greater than what people expected."

Reed and his running partner Sheri Harpez took it all in stride. They clocked about 10 miles on Sunday with relief supplies on their backs.

Harpez said it's "really a bit overwhelming ... I don't know, it's sad but it's nice to see humanity come through in times like this."

New York Road Runners, which organizes the marathon, donated race supplies to the relief effort. And in the hard-hit neighborhood of Staten Island, Laurette Downey was just happy to get some attention -- finally.

Asked how it felt to have people come to her neighborhood, she said, "It's wonderful, it's a godsend."

On Staten Island, people urged the media to take pictures of the devastation to let people see how much they're suffering.

As for the marathon runners helping on Staten Island on Sunday, they told CBS News they were happy to have a new focus, despite all the controversy surrounding the race.

Watch Seth Doane's full report in the video above.

To help victims of Sandy, donations to the American Red Cross can be made by visiting Red Cross disaster relief, or you can text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

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