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Western Pa. marathoners support N.Y. decision

| Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, 3:26 p.m.

Faced with the decision to run or pass, Bob Shooer, a lifelong runner and native of Queens, N.Y., passed.

Shooer, 62, of Mt. Lebanon saw the images of large generators to be used for the New York City Marathon and just didn't feel right about running in what would have been his third marathon through the five boroughs and 26th overall.

“As a former New Yorker, the thought of running this marathon for my own enjoyment at the expense of those in dire need of the resources just didn't work for me,” said Shooer, who owns the Fleet Feet Sports running store in Bethel Park.

Organizers on Friday canceled the marathon in response to Hurricane Sandy's destruction, only hours after Mayor Michael Bloomberg insisted it would go on as scheduled. The issue became divisive, as many believed resources devoted to the 26.2-mile race would be better allocated elsewhere.

Shooer planned to run with store manager Claire Plassmeyer, 27, of Mt. Lebanon, but Thursday they took advantage of a deferment opportunity that allowed runners to postpone their involvement until next year.

“I know there are two sides to this. It does bring revenue to the city,” said Shooer, whose family on Long Island wasn't extensively affected by Sandy. “But to me, right now the main issue is they need resources. Money, of course, is always needed. But they need resources. They need gasoline. They need to be able to get from Point A to Point B.”

Plassmeyer said she was disappointed but, like Shooer, believed the decision to cancel the marathon was the right one.

“This was supposed to be my first time to New York City,” said Plassmeyer, who has run one marathon. “We were so lucky to get in. … I just feel really bad for the people who live there. My heart goes out to them.”

Like Plassmeyer, Kevin McQuillan, 47, of Upper St. Clair has never run in the New York City Marathon, but this year was supposed to be his first. He was born in Brooklyn and attended Duquesne. His family lives in Spring Valley, N.Y., about an hour northwest of New York City. His parents and two siblings are still without power.

“I think they did make the right decision,” he said. “I was torn. I trained for four months, and there were a lot of reasons why I wanted to do it. But I decided collectively with my wife and friends … that it just was not the right thing to do at this time.

“Earlier in the week, I was pretty convinced it would be cleaned up. There was a feeling it would happen, New York could pull it together, but the last 48 hours as the news got out about how devastating it was, it made the decision that much easier.”

Rob Amen and Karen Price are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Amen can be reached at ramen@tribweb.com or 412-320-7982. Price can be reached at kprice@tribweb.com or 412-320-7980.

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