NYC Marathon Has 'Unprecedented' Number Of Unfilled Charity Slots; Some Speculate Boston Might Deter

It ranks among the top races to run before you die, but New York’s upcoming marathon has an “unprecedented” number of charity slots available.

Race organizers say that about half of the 8,200 spots that are reserved for entrants who raise money for charity are still unfilled, an unusually weak turnout that’s being attributed to a number of factors. Organizational issues arose because of last year’s last-minute marathon cancelation and, some are speculating that runners may be hesitant to race in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

New York Road Runners (NYRR), the group that puts on the race, faced a logistical nightmare after the marathon was canceled just two days before it was supposed to go on last year. By the time the organization determined how many slots would be available altogether for the 2013 event, it was five months behind schedule, so charities only started recruiting eight weeks ago for the November event, according to Runner's World.

NYRR ultimately decided that racers who had raised money last year were guaranteed spots in this year’s marathon and were not expected to fundraise again. About 64 percent have opted to partake, and some are even going so far as to raise money again, according to the Journal.

The organizations that are struggling most to recruit charitable runners are the large-scale ones, like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The nonprofit told the paper that it has more than 250 slots to fill, which could amount to more than $1 million in lost revenue.

“Everyone's struggling,” Chris Fenton, vice president of Team in Training –- the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s athletic arm-- told the Journal, “and we're just fortunate we have the breadth of a 25-year program with alumni to reach out to."

The smaller nonprofits -- those that are assembling teams of 15 or less -- have pretty much filled up their slots, Michael Rodgers, vice president of development and philanthropy at New York Road Runners, told Runner's World.

Though runners were outraged last year when the marathon was canceled when most had already descended upon a broken city, it’s not surprising that many who have chosen to return are still stepping up their charity efforts, even though they’re not required to.

On the November Sunday that the marathon should’ve taken place last year, hundreds of runners made their way, in their signature orange uniforms, to the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy to help out in any way they could.

"We initially were bummed, but also saddened by the perception that runners were indifferent to the needs of other people," Jordan Metzl, a runner who volunteered last year, told the Associated Press. "We wanted to turn a negative to a positive."