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Published: Sunday November 4, 2012 MYT 6:38:00 PM
Updated: Sunday November 4, 2012 MYT 6:49:59 PM

Malaysians' NY marathon preparations go down the drain with Hurricane Sandy

NEW YORK: The preparation of seven Malaysian runners to participate in the New York City Marathon went down the drain after the event was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.

Five of them - Mizi Rahim, Muhammad Izuan Zainuddin, Azuria Camalia Camel, Farah Koh and Jamie Tan Jia Nee - flew all the way from Kuala Lumpur while Fairul Ghani and his wife, Irma Ibrahim, flew from Auckland, New Zealand.

All had a common objective - to take part in the prestigious event, dubbed the world's largest marathon on Sunday.

Two other Malaysian runners residing here - Zarina Mustapha and Warren Wei-Jen Lim - had also planned to participate in the event.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to reports, had cancelled the marathon amid furore over the Hurricane Sandy aftermath.

In a typical year, the marathon, with tens of thousands of participants, would turn the city into a giant party.

Speaking to Bernama, Mizi, 30, said he departed KL International Airport (KILA) on an Etihad Airlines flight on Oct 28, but was stranded in Abu Dhabi enroute to New York due to Hurricane Sandy.

The HSBC Bank officer from Kuala Lumpur said he had initially planned to stay at his friend's house upon arriving in the city on Nov 1, but had to change the plan after the transportation system, as well as water and power supply to the area were cut.

"I didn't know where else to go. It was hard to find a taxi, get a train or any other means of transportation.

"So, I decided to just walk to the hotel where Jamie and her husband, Tomi Tulin Entaban were staying.

"It was so frustrating when nothing is functional, no electricity, no water, nothing.

"This is one hell of experience. I was very optimistic about it, I have made all the preparations, undergoing training and watching my diet and I was really hoping to end the year with a bang," he said.

Muhammad Izuan, 30, and Azuria Camalia, 29, on the other hand, said they were informed on Oct 31 by their airline (Cathay Pacific) in KLIA that all flights to and from New York had been cancelled due to the hurricane.

With strong determination, the duo decided to change their destination to Chicago. They arrived at O'Hare International Airport on Nov 1 and had to endure a 15-hour bus ride to New York.

"I am really speechless and frustrated with the cancellation of the marathon, we don't have Plan B.

"We don't even have mood to stroll the city," Muhammad Izuan said.

Fairul, 33 and Irma, 29, also expressed their disappointment when their flight was ordered to turn back to San Francisco due to a technical glitch.

"I have been aiming to run long distance and dreaming to join the New York Marathon for the past two years.

"If they wanted to cancel the event, they should have cancelled it much earlier and not at the very last minute," said Irma, an accountant who has been living in Auckland over the past 15 years.

Zarina, an ex-student of Columbia University and now working at the university, when contacted said: "I have been preparing for this marathon since last year as this is my first... and I have taken part in nine runs just to qualify for this marathon." - Bernama

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