Susan Bourque was in the car, halfway between Boston and New York, when her father called Friday evening to say the race was canceled. Still on the road, Bourque started researching whether she could enter a different marathon in the next couple weeks so as not to waste her training. Sure enough, Sunday’s race in Manchester, N.H., had extended its registration deadline to attract jilted New York runners.
Bourque and her husband kept on driving because their two children had never been to the Big Apple. They arrived at 9:30 p.m. and squeezed in visits to the Empire State Building and Times Square before heading back to New England at midday Saturday, pleasantly surprised their hotel refunded the rate with their early departure.
Francesco Caielli, Mario Di Sabato and Luciano Sala were two hours from landing in New York on Friday when they saw the news on the plane’s video screens. At least their trip was smooth: A friend whose initial flight was canceled flew from their native Italy to Hong Kong then New York, determined to make the marathon.
And now there’s no race.
Di Sabato scoffed that if the same thing happened in his home country, outsiders would accuse the Italians of stereotypical disorganization. But this fiasco took place under the watch of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In his first comments since canceling the race, Bloomberg told WCBS-TV on Saturday his message to out-of-town runners was: ‘‘I'm sorry. I fought the battle, and sometimes things don’t work out.’’
Runners signed up this year will be guaranteed entry into the 2013 marathon or the half-marathon in March, a valuable promise since it’s so hard to get into the race. That could leave few spots next year for anyone else, though.
But some vowed to never again enter the NYC Marathon. Pia Nielsen, who flew in from Copenhagen, said city and race officials would have to regain her trust.
Lucy Marquez said she would come back, even as tears filled her eyes at the thought of the three young children she left at home in Mexico to race what would have been her first marathon.
‘‘Shock. Denial. Rage,’’ is how Marquez described the stages of digesting the news that the race had been scrapped. Twelve years ago, she watched her father run the course.
‘‘I love New York City,’’ she said. ‘‘This is the marathon I want to run.’’
Cara Anna, James Martinez and Karen Matthews contributed to this report.