Cyclone causes New York City Marathon runners to break stride

Patty Snodgrass had qualified to run in her first New York City Marathon three years ago, but injuries derailed the retired U.S. Treasury Department employee from fulfilling that dream. She was going to use what is essentially a rain check from the New York Road Runners Club to enter this year's event, which was scheduled to be held last Sunday.

Snodgrass and her husband, Don, left their Annapolis home for New York a few days before the race, only to be among the tens of thousands of runners to find their plans changed dramatically by the cyclone Sandy. After announcing that the race would go on despite the devastation in and around the city, event organizers finally canceled this year's race less than 48 hours before the start.


While the Snodgrasses were able to fulfill most of their nonrace schedule in New York — which included taking in the Broadway show "Wicked" and going to the Carnegie Deli for pastrami sandwiches — it also forced Patty to figure out what she was going to do about her training schedule and whether another marathon was on the horizon.

Since taking up running in 1994 after she and her husband both quit smoking, the now 58-year-old Snodgrass has run in more than two dozen marathons — "I have lost count, it's like 28 or 29," she said — and actually had the same exact time, down to the second, the two times she ran in the Boston Marathon in 2005 and 2007.

"What are the odds of that happening?" she said.

Instead of winding down and taking time off after the New York City Marathon, Snodgrass will now run in Jacksonville (Fla.) Marathon next month. It is about four hours north of her winter home and is run on a pretty flat course, according to what she has been told.

"Really I thought my long runs were over, so when we were up in New York [and the race was called off] I thought I would have a good time and when we got home, not that I would have to start over, but I would have to keep it going a little longer," Snodgrass said.

The biggest disappointment might come in the fact that runners who are unable to compete in the New York City Marathon after qualifying or signing up have in the past been given a one-time entry to be used in the future, though it comes with a new entry fee of around $200. The policy was supposed to be changed after this year so the raincheck might no longer be valid.

"I knew they were changing it, and I kept saying, 'If I don't do it this year, I don't know if I will get to do it,'" Snodgrass said. "I just got an email the other day saying that they are looking at their options, please be patient. They're trying to figure out what is the best way to handle it."

While she and her husband enjoyed their trip to New York, they did cancel a reservation at one of their favorite restaurants, Carmine's.

"I figured if I wasn't running 26 miles, I'd save it for a time when I could afford a few extra calories," she said with a laugh.