Bloomberg, in his first comments since canceling the marathon, said he fought to keep it going but the controversy was becoming "so divisive" and too much of a distraction.

"I still think that we had the resources to do both, and that we want people to be able to take a break and that sort of thing. ... It's a big part of our economy," Bloomberg told WCBS-TV on Saturday during a visit to the borough of Queens. As he spoke, he was met by catcalls from residents angry about the city's response to the storm.

Many runners understood the decision to call off the marathon. The overall death toll from the superstorm was 105, including 41 in New York City. The widespread power outages made many New Yorkers recoil at the idea of police protecting a foot race and evicting storm victims from hotels to make way for runners.

The cancellation forced runners to deal with what to do with no race.

More than half of the 40,000 athletes were from out of town. Their entry fees were paid. Their airline tickets were purchased. Their friends and family had hotel rooms. And all week the race was a go, even after Sandy came ashore Monday.

"I understand why it cannot be held under the current circumstances," Meb Keflezighi, the 2009 men's champion and 2004 Olympic silver medalist, said in a statement. "Any inconveniences the cancellation causes me or the thousands of runners who trained and traveled for this race pales in comparison to the challenges faced by people in NYC and its vicinity."

ING ( ING), the financial company that is the title sponsor of the marathon, said it supported the decision to cancel. The firm's charitable giving arm has made a $500,000 contribution to help with relief and recovery efforts and is matching employee donations. Sponsor Poland Spring said it would donate the bottled water earmarked for the marathon to relief agencies, more than 200,000 bottles.

"When you have a significant amount of people voicing real pain and unhappiness over its running, you have to hear that. You have to take that into consideration," said Howard Wolfson, deputy mayor for government affairs and communications.

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