Despite Sandy, New York City Marathon Still On

Audie Cornish talks with New York City restaurateur Joseph Bastianich, who is planning to run this weekend's New York City marathon. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the race will go on, even though the city is still dealing with the effects of superstorm Sandy.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Despite the damage to New York City's subways, bus service, ferry and its power grid, the New York City Marathon - slated for Sunday - will go on. The decision was made yesterday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who called it a great event for New York. Today, Bloomberg tried to reassure those who worry the marathon will tie up precious resources.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: The marathon is not going to redirect any focus by - keep in mind, by Sunday, we'll have electricity back downtown. That will free up an enormous number of police. Also, a lot of the transportation needs that we have during the week aren't there on the weekends.

CORNISH: The 26.2-mile race carves a path through all five boroughs of the city. Before the storm, it was expected to draw up to 50,000 runners, nearly half of them traveling from overseas. Among those runners is Joe Bastianich, who co-owns several popular New York restaurants with chef Mario Batali. Welcome to the program.

JOE BASTIANICH: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

CORNISH: So to start, tell us what are some of the concerns or factors you weighed in deciding to run this Sunday?

BASTIANICH: Well, for me, it's an annual event. It's the best day in New York of the year, and I don't think that, you know, even with nine closed restaurants, I think that we're all looking back to getting some normalcy. And running the marathon is the most normal thing I can do on the first Sunday of November. So I just want to kind of looking forward to everything to get back the way it is. It shows our resilience. It shows the kind of town New York is. And, you know, I was born and raised here. That's what we do.

CORNISH: You mentioned your restaurants are being closed. Can you tell us more about how you were affected by the storm?

BASTIANICH: Well, we own more than half a dozen restaurants in Eataly, which is the market south of, you know, basically 23rd Street and south. And obviously, there's been no power in that whole area since Monday, and the restaurants are closed. And we've been monitoring the situation, throwing out the food, getting ready. We just want to get back at it again and get ready to serve all these hungry marathoners who are going to be in town this weekend.

CORNISH: What do you say to the folks who have lost their homes and living in shelters who are openly questioning why this marathon would be still going, more important than getting things back to normal?

BASTIANICH: (Unintelligible) to think as the mayor said, it doesn't really reallocate any resources. It's a tribute to the city and kind of the healing process. I think people run this marathon for many reasons. You know, I ran it for myself at first and then for charity. And I think this year I'm running it for the city. I think there's a lot of that sentiment. People are running for this great city of New York, people who love it like me, running for the people who are suffering here and just to get us back on track to normalcy which is I think the greatest thing that could happen.

CORNISH: I understand that you're going to be running with a group of Italian runners. How are they getting here? What are the logistics of making that happen?

BASTIANICH: They are. They're coming from all over the world. Some are being rerouted through Istanbul, literally coming halfway around the world. The Italian runners are excited to be here. Italy loves New York, loves the New York Marathon. This is one of the mythical events. In Italy, people dream of it their whole lives. So (unintelligible) Italian and run in New York. We're part of Team Grana Padano, the great Italian cheese, to be part of that team to come and run in this marathon to support a great team, and to be a part of this event is a great honor for all Italians.

CORNISH: Thank you so much for speaking with us and good luck...

BASTIANICH: Thanks.

CORNISH: ...with your run.

BASTIANICH: Thanks for having us. Well, we're looking forward for the run this Sunday, and we're running for the great city of New York. Thank you and have a great day.

CORNISH: Joe Bastianich owns a number of restaurants in New York City, many of them currently closed because of Sandy. He'll be running the New York City Marathon this Sunday.

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