New York City Marathon Canceled, Bloomberg Says

Amid mounting criticism about the timing of a major race in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Sunday's New York City Marathon has been canceled, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement late Friday.

New York City Marathon Canceled, Bloomberg Says
Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Earlier, some runners and elected officials had called for Sunday's race to be either canceled or postponed, as the storm's death toll mounted and thousands remained without power or heat.

"While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division," Bloomberg said.

"We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it," he said.

(Read more: Scope of Sandy's Devastation Widens, Death Toll Spirals)

'A Bad Idea'

Kevin Barney, who lives in the Los Angeles area, has been training and fundraising for the annual event for months. Yet when the storm hit Monday and Tuesday, he decided to cancel his plans in light of the tragedy.

"I'm an avid runner but I think they should have put the race off until some semblance of order has returned," Barney said. "I can't imagine what New York City is going through."

A marathon immediately following the superstorm "just seems like a bad idea," he said.

Earlier Friday, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer reversed his support to hold the marathon this weekend, saying the region isn't ready to hold such a monumental sporting event.

"The prudent course of action here — postpone the marathon, come back a different day," he told TODAY. he first priority, Stringer said, should be to "help people who lost their homes, who are missing loved ones." (Read more: Hurricane Sandy Special Report.)

Runners have been jogging around the edges of Central Park, which has been off limits since the storm.

Los Angeles runner Barney, who completed 11 marathons so far, nixed his own appearance in the event. He felt it could sap the city's vitally needed resources at a critical time.

Like many runners, Barney was planning to race and raise money for a cause, so making the decision to cancel a hard one. He lost a niece to Epidermolysis Bullosa, a rare genetic disorder, and was raising funds for a related group called Debra.

Though he feels guilty about not running, "I think they should cancel or put it off a couple of weeks," he said.

Marathon Backlash Hits Twitter

New York City Marathon Canceled, Bloomberg Says
D. Dipasupil | WireImage | Getty Images

Meanwhile, the city's promises to use private transportation for the marathon hadn't placated some irate citizens. Some people had taken to Twitter to vent their anger about the marathon and its impact on storm survivors.

Some survivors without power have been holed up in area hotels. But they can't get additional reservations because many hotels rooms previously were booked months in advance by runner, scheduled to participate in the race. (Read more: Available: NY Hotel Room, No Power for $400 a Night)

"#Disgraceful," tweeted one Twitter user.

Hotels are obliged to honor legitimate reservations — whether for stranded storm survivors or marathon runners. "If a guest has a legitimate reservation, you've got an obligation," said William Carroll, senior lecturer at Cornell University.

But there's nothing preventing hotels from proactively contacting those with reservations, who have yet to arrive, to confirm their travel plans, said Carroll, who is also a senior hotel and lodging analyst for market research firm PhoCusWright.

As the storm's aftermath continues, many travelers probably won't be able to get into New York City this weekend.

With additional reporting by Darren Booth.