Park halts Brooklyn Marathon expansion plan

Park halts Brooklyn Marathon expansion plan
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The New York City Marathon it really ain’t!

Prospect Park officials have slapped down a petition by Brooklyn Marathon organizers to up the amount of participants in this year’s run from 500 to 1,500, claiming that runners won’t have room to race next to all the emergency service equipment being staged in the green space.

“Federal Emergency Management Agency and Parks Department equipment are being stationed in the right hand lane of the Park Drives, rendering it unusable, and their vehicles have priority usage on the Park Drives,” said Prospect Park Alliance spokesman Paul Nelson, who added that emergency service vehicles will be stationed in the park “for as long as the recovery efforts continue.”

Moments after Mayor Bloomberg cancelled the New York City Marathon amid demands that the city put all of its efforts toward ongoing Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, Brooklyn Marathon organizers opened a waiting list so runners itching to participate in the annual five-borough run had a place to stretch their legs.

With Prospect Park officials putting a kibosh on its plans, the Brooklyn Marathon has turned away more than 200 eager runners who signed up on the waiting list, organizers say.

“We would have really liked to accommodate a larger field. It was feasible and the right thing to do, even if it would have impacted the race negatively by making it too crowded,” said Brooklyn Marathon organizer Steve Lastoe. “This would have been the one time I would have been okay with that.”

Yet Lastoe says he’s accepted the Prospect Park Alliance’s decision.

“We’re not going to slam the city for doing its job,” said Lastoe, who explained that Brooklyn’s 26.2-mile race through Prospect Park’s curvy loops and trails will still go on with its original 500 runners and have a surprise “Brooklyn signature moment” at the finish line.

A portion of each entry fee will be donated to the Prospect Park Alliance to help repair the storm-ravaged park, where more than 300 trees were toppled, Lastoe said.

“I’m happy that we get to be a apart of the healing as well as the fixing,” said Lastoe.

The Brooklyn Marathon [Center Drive and West Drive inside Prospect Park]. Nov. 18, 8 am. For more information visit www.brooklynmarathon.com.