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Sandy floods hinder marathon

THE biggest challenge for this weekend's New York City Marathon could be getting to the start, not the finish.

The mayor of storm-battered New York, Michael Bloomberg, says Sunday's marathon is still on, but flying in runners from out of town will be tricky, and there may not be a subway to get everyone to the starting line.

Superstorm Sandy has shut down transportation, closed airports, flooded streets and left scores of neighbourhoods without power -- formidable obstacles for the organisers.

"The marathon has always been a special day for New Yorkers as a symbol of the vitality and resiliency of this city," New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg said.

The 26.2-mile route through the five boroughs mostly avoids the areas hit hardest by flooding. Organisers were expecting nearly 50,000 runners before the storm hit. They now have no idea how many will actually make it to start the race.

Mr Bloomberg said it could be four or five days before the subways were running again, which means they may not be available on race day.

Commuter trains may not be operating normally, either.