The controversy over the ING NYC Marathon—and the city's decision to hold it in spite of widespread Hurricane Sandy damage and then cancel it after intense backlash—turned what is usually a joyous NYC event into an uncomfortable topic. And it turned the runners, who truly do love NYC and the experience seeing it across 26 miles, into unwitting villains. Let's leave the villainy to others—ahem, New York Road Runners Club—and celebrate the runners' spirit: About a thousand headed to Staten Island this morning to help with relief efforts, while 2,000 are in Central Park running a marathon and raising money for relief efforts!

New York Runners In Support of Staten Island organized marathon entrants to mobilize at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in lower Manhattan this morning. Their message, "Now that the NYC marathon is cancelled, let’s put these legs and healthy spirit to good use! We are organizing an impromptu group of NYC marathon runners (and friends) to head over to Staten Island to run and distribute food and helpful items." One group of runners just found one center closed to new aid, so they are running to new spots—" To help Staten Island residents, take the ferry, then the Staten Island train to the New Dorp or Oakland Height stations. Neighborhoods further out from the Ferry Terminal need help more than closer neighborhoods."

Over in Central Park, an unofficial marathon was planned to raise money for efforts—and to give entrants a chance to run. Four loops of the park is a marathon (the original NYC Marathon course used to be in Central Park only), and the Run Anyway Marathon is accepting donations (details).

Jack Waitz, widower of beloved NYC Marathon champion Grete Waitz, told the Daily News he had come from Norway, "We all understand why they canceled and we will be back and even better next year, but it is still very important to run today. We all paid substantial money to be here, and we raised money."

A group of Brooklyn-based marathoners—the American Cancer Society's DetermiNation Marathon runners—will run 7.7 loops in Prospect Park and have raised $3,000 while another group is holding a massive supply drive at the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge at 132 West 32nd Street. The ACS tells us, "On a whole, the American Cancer Society ING Marathon DetermiNation team has 327 members who have raised $1.3 million for the fight against cancer."

There are other marathon-day relief races and efforts—NYC 2012 Marathon of Relief, which is coordinating runners to help where needed, and Run For Red Hook for the community.