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Crews Race to Clear Downed Trees as Bloomberg Paints Marathon Finish Line

By Leslie Albrecht | November 2, 2011 2:14pm

UPPER WEST SIDE — The grueling ING New York City Marathon drains runners' bodies, but the race has the opposite effect on the city, pumping millions of dollars into the local economy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday.

Bloomberg touted the 26.2 mile race's economic benefits as he helped city and race officials paint the marathon's finish line in Central Park near West 67th Street.

Elsewhere in the park, crews worked feverishly to clear the more 1,000 trees felled by a freak storm last weekend.

"The Central Park Conservancy and private contractors have worked around-the-clock to clear the debris," Bloomberg said. "By this weekend the park will be back to normal."

The race, which starts at 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning, is the world's largest marathon, drawing more than 47,000 runners from more than 100 countries. An estimated 2 million people line the route to cheer the runners.

"Nobody puts on big events like New York City," Bloomberg said.

The marathon is the city's largest-grossing single-day sporting event, pumping $350 million into the local economy and generating $10 million in tax revenue that pays teachers, cops and firefighters, Bloomberg said.

The marathon also raises $30 million for charity, Bloomberg said.

But the race's real value comes from its ability to showcase New York, the mayor said, noting that many marathon runners and their families stay in the city for several days before or after the race.

"They get a chance to see what's great about New York City...and hopefully go home and tell their neighbors, 'Hey, New York is the place that's happening,'" Bloomberg said.