NEW YORK -- New York City Marathon runners can receive a refund of their entry fee after this year's race was canceled because of Superstorm Sandy.
When the event was called off last month, officials said they had a no-refund policy but had not made a final decision on whether to make an exception. Organizer New York Road Runners informed entrants Thursday that they had three options to choose from -- one of them a refund.
Runners can otherwise go for a guaranteed spot in the 2013, 2014 or 2015 marathon. They would have to pay the entry fee again, but at the 2012 rate. Getting into the race is extremely competitive, making a guaranteed spot very valuable to runners.
Or they can accept a spot in March's NYC half-marathon, paying the entry fee for that race -- though availability is limited.
The refund applies only to runners who had not withdrawn before Oct. 24, when forecasts of a massive storm started to emerge. The refund excludes an $11 processing fee. Entry costs ranged from $216 to $347.
Sandy devastated neighborhoods across the New York area six days before the marathon was to have begun on Nov. 4. Among the hardest hit by flooding was Staten Island, home to the starting line. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYRR officials initially announced the race would go on. But as criticism mounted, they canceled the marathon less than 48 hours before it would have started.
By then, thousands of out-of-town runners had already arrived in New York, with international entrants often spending several thousand dollars on the trip. They vented that while they supported the ultimate decision, it should have been made days earlier, before they boarded planes.
Organizers initially expected about 47,500 runners to compete.
"Our commitment is to work hard over the coming year to serve our runners and community and to return the ING New York City Marathon to being our city's best day," NYRR President Mary Wittenberg said in a letter to entrants Thursday.