For the first time since 1970, thousands of devoted athletes -- many of whom have spent months training -- won't be crossing the finish line of one of the most famous road races in the world, all thanks to Hurricane Sandy.

Despite Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg's insistence that the New York City marathon would go on, the NYRR and city leaders changed their tune Friday evening, and have decided to cancel the iconic event.

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"The Marathon has been an integral part of New York City's life for 40 years and is an event tens of thousands of New Yorkers participate in and millions more watch," Bloomberg said in a statement (via The New York Times). "While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division."

Added the Mayor, "The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination. We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it. We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event -- even one as meaningful as this -- to distract away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track."

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Almost 50,000 runners had signed up to participate in Sunday's event, whose 26.2 mile course takes runners through all five New York City boroughs.

This article originally appeared on New York City Marathon Canceled