SEATTLE -- Holli Martinez could have been disappointed when her first planned marathon was canceled this weekend in New York. Instead, the wife of former Mariners great Edgar Martinez decided to look for a positive way to help other runners and New York residents affected by Superstorm Sandy.
As a result, the Martinezes are organizing an informal marathon Sunday morning in Central Park to raise money for New York Cares and its relief efforts.
"This just feels like the right thing to do," Edgar Martinez said by phone Saturday from New York, where he and Holli are feverishly working to connect runners and set up a loop through Central Park to be used for the event. "There are a lot of runners here and there are a lot people in need in New York, and this is something we can do to help."
The Martinezes are asking runners to show up at the corner of Columbus Circle and Central Park Drive for the informal event at 8 a.m. ET on Sunday and run as far as they want on a course that will require five laps to complete a full marathon.
More important, says Holli, is the opportunity to raise awareness and collect donations for New York Cares, which has set up a website for the event at www.newyorkcares.kintera.org/martinezfoundation.
"I completely understand why they had to cancel the New York City Marathon," Holli said. "But I'm thrilled we're here to do something positive and helpful. We love this city. I chose my first marathon to be in New York because nowhere else in the world is like this city. I love New York and the people. If we can help in any way, it will be more meaningful than ever to have this be my first marathon."
Holli ran the Las Vegas half-marathon last year and "got the bug," according to Edgar, who retired after 18 seasons with the Mariners in 2004 and is now raising three children with Holli at their home in Bellevue, Wash.
Martinez will be at Sunday's informal event, but he won't be running.
"I'll be passing out water," he said with a chuckle. "I don't even drive that far."
The Martinezes have no idea how many runners might show up, but they're getting word out through social media and word of mouth and are hoping at least 100 or more will gather.
"It'll be really interesting to see how many people show up," said Holli. "But mainly it's to get word out that there's an organization here with a great pulse on what is happening and what people need and how to access supplies. Regardless of how many show up, if we get people to realize that New York Cares is out there, then it's a success. That's the ultimate goal."
Holli noted that there will be no staffing or city help with the event, so runners need to bring their own water and supplies and support groups.
It will be Holli's first marathon, but not her first fundraiser. She and Edgar are co-founders of the Martinez Foundation, which supports teachers of color and provides scholarship help to minority educators in the state of Washington.
Sunday's event is not for their own charity, however. After a dinner discussion Friday following the official marathon's cancellation, the Martinezes contacted New York Cares to see if they wanted to partner in the informal run.
"It's a work in progress right now," said Martinez. "New York Cares seems like a great organization, and there are so many runners here in New York right now that just want to run. At the same time, it's a crisis here, so this just makes sense.
"Why not do something to raise money and help the victims? So we just said, 'Let's try it. Let's make some phone calls.' And things started snowballing. Now we're going to do it and see what happens."
People who want to help out can do so at www.newyorkcares.kintera.org/martinezfoundation. It's also possible to stay connected through social media by following The Martinez Foundation on Twitter (twitter.com/MartinezFellows) and Facebook (facebook.com/TheMartinezFoundation).