Image: A worker clears logs in New York's Central Park
Mike Segar  /  Reuters
A worker clears logs in New York's Central Park on Wednesday.
updated 11/3/2011 6:42:58 PM ET 2011-11-03T22:42:58

The tens of thousands of runners in the New York City Marathon this weekend will have a clear path through Central Park after workers labored to remove branches and trees downed by a late October snowstorm, park and race officials said Thursday.

Even though the cleanup will continue for a couple more weeks, the park will be ready for Sunday's massive marathon, which winds through the Manhattan park, Central Park Conservancy spokeswoman Dena Libner said. On Thursday, workers were high up in trees using saws to cut branches in danger of falling, and large trucks hauled away tree debris.

NYC Marathon spokesman Richard Finn said city agencies had done a superb job cleaning up after the storm, which dumped about 3 inches of wet, heavy snow in the park.

"All the people stepped up in New York City," he said at Central Park early Thursday afternoon. "The race course is clean. It's ready."

He said race officials were lucky the storm didn't hit on the weekend of the race because it would have caused some "major disruption."

"It would have been a spectacular shock," he said. "It would have been like playing in a blizzard in a football game."

Thousands of trees were damaged — about 1,000 were expected to be lost — during the storm, affecting about 400 acres of mostly the southern end of the park. The storm caused an estimated $500,000 in damage.

Trees as large as 3 to 4 feet across were toppled, with snow weighing down leaves and branches until they gave way.

The marathon's finish line is in Central Park, but the race gets its start at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island, with runners crossing first over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge into Brooklyn and then traveling through the city's other boroughs.

More than 47,000 people participated in last year's marathon, and many thousands more watched from the sidelines, cheering the runners on as they weaved through the city's neighborhoods.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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