WABC had been promoting a return of the ING New York City Marathon to the station — the first time since 1993. This was to be the first year of a 5-year deal that WABC and sister network ESPN struck with the New York RoadRunners club. ESPN2 was planning to run 3 1/2 hours of the race, the first time in 19 years the marathon would have a national audience. But late today Mayor Michael Bloomberg called off the race, just hours after saying it should — and would — be run.

But the voices to cancel the marathon had grown louder in the last day and had been loudest from Staten Island, where the race begins, and which was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.

Reporter Marc Santia, who, in June, joined WNBC from WDIV in Detroit, was all set to run his first New York City marathon Sunday. But after days of reporting from hard-hit Staten Island and talking to residents there, he said he just couldn’t do it. This morning, he called his wife to tell her he wasn’t going to run. Mayor Bloomberg’s call to cancel the race late today made the decision a lot easier for anyone else who was conflicted about running.

As for the athletes from around the world who have been training for months and have spent thousands of dollars — the entrance fee alone for non-U.S. runners is $347 — the decision is not as easy to take.

For the last 12 years the New York City marathon, the world’s largest, has aired on WNBC, hosted by WNBC’s Bruce Beck and called by sports announcer Al Trautwig. Tonight on WNBC’s 7pm news, Beck agreed that it was the right thing to do to call off the race.