Half Marathon Help for Sandy-Hit Businesses

Thousands of half marathon runners gathered last year at the South Street Seaport. Photo courtesy of New York Road Runners (NYRR)

Feb. 21, 2013

Struggling Downtown businesses hit hard by Hurricane Sandy are hoping to get a boost next month from the 15,000-runner half marathon.  Organizers of the March 17 event will be putting on a street fair in the South Street Seaport, where race crowds can sample food and shop for merchandise at dozens of booths set up along Fulton Street between Gold and Water.

Some merchants are offering single-day discounts to runners and their families in their stores; others will have week-long promotions starting Monday, March 11.

As of Feb. 21, some 20 Downtown restaurants, shops and other businesses  signed on to "Run the City," the New York Road Runners program, including Fresh Salt, Les Halles, Cowgirl Seahorse, Stone Street Tavern and Battery Gardens restaurant.

The goal is “to build a whole weekend of business down here, not just the one day,” Peter Ciaccia, the Road Runners event and technical director, told a Community Board 1 committee on Tuesday.

For the second year in a row, runners in the 13-mile race will finish on Lower Manhattan’s east side. In previous years, the marathon’s massive crowds of runners and their supporters gathered in Battery Park City for the end of the race, prompting complaints from residents about noise, traffic congestion and other problems. Last year, the city denied CB1’s request to have the race end in Brooklyn because that plan would require closing traffic lanes on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The race finish line is blocks south of the street fair, at Water and Wall streets, and CB1 members asked if the race could end on Fulton Street to attract more runners to the South Street Seaport, the neighborhood hardest hit by Sandy.

Ciaccia said there is not enough room in the area to accommodate the crowds. “We don’t want to drive a mass of 15,000 runners out toward the piers,” he said. Road construction at Fulton and Water Streets, he said, would also get in the way.

The route of the eighth annual half marathon will begin on the Upper West Side, travel down West Street through the Battery Park Underpass, turn onto Old Slip and Water Street, and finish at Water and Wall streets.