I attended my first NYC Marathon, while Aracely ran in her first NYC Marathon. This was an amazing event to both participate in and be a spectator. The race had over 45,000 starters, ranging from 18 years old to 87 years old.
NYC Marathon Course
The NYC Marathon is considered a difficult course, spanning the 5 boroughs of New York City. The starting line is in Staten Island, and runners first cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge bridge to Brooklyn. After running through the narrow streets of Brooklyn, they cross into Queens and then onto the Queensboro bridge landing on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Running north on 1st Avenue through Harlem, they enter the 5th borough, the Bronx. The runners finish by returning south and running a half a loop around Central Park. The 26.2 marathon distance is challenging in NYC because of the many turns, spanning bridges and crowded field of runners.
As a spectator of the NYC Marathon, I watched runners from all over the world. Some of the most notable contingents were from France and Italy. They were wearing the same shirts and could be easily identified. It became a game identifying runners from different countries.
Not only was it interesting to see many countries represented, but it was fun to spot the off the wall costumes on some of the runners. There were also some runners dribbling basketballs the entire race.
The wheelchair group passed by the spectators first, spinning at rapid speeds down the streets. Next to pass were the professional women and followed by the professional men. Each group was accompanied with large entourages of press and police vehicles. The core group of women and men in 3 major waves made up the largest segment of runners, including handcycles. It was non-stop cheering, cow bells, and vuvuzelas. Celebrities are out running too, so keep your eyes open for the likes of Bobby Flay, Robin Quivers, Amani Toomer, Al Roker and Meredith Viera.
All Marathon All Day
On this day the Marathon rules the city. Driving around and even walking across town can be challenging. We were able to see Aracely after she entered Manhattan on 1st Avenue at mile 18 and then again in Central Park at mile 24. Getting over to Central Park involved us running across 1st Avenue and then trying to find a way to enter the park without running across the course again. I imagine it’s a mess for New Yorkers going about their daily routines. It’s a lot of time standing for the spectators, but we can’t complain much, considering there are others around us running 26 miles.
The organization of the NYC Marathon is incredible. Each runner has their own number and a bar code on their bib for easy scanning. The marathon entrants are provided transportation, food and loudspeaker instructions for the start of the race. Plenty of water, bathroom and food stations are spread throughout the course. The process of checking and picking up your belongings is seamless. There is no reason to be afraid of the size and scope of the NYC Marathon.
Aracely normally runs under 4 hours, but she twisted her ankle at a crowded water station at mile 21. For the last 5 miles she walk ran through the pain to finish just under 5 hours. I tell her it’s reason to race it again.
What makes the New York City Marathon so special is that it’s very difficult to get in. They do offer a lottery drawing, but after 2 attempts Aracely didn’t make it. She entered the race by running in 9 qualifying races as determined by the NY Road Runners club. Basically, it’s a lot of entrance fee money for the club. You don’t have to run specific times, but you do need to run in all those races and volunteer in one. The last 2 ways to become an entrant are through good qualifying times in other marathons or raising money for charity.
Tips for the NYC Marathon
Wear clothes that you will donate
At the start of the race you will want to stay warm. Runners will throw off their warm clothes after the race starts. The clothes are all collected and donated.
Know where family & friends will be
Plan on a particular street block where your friends or family will be watching so you can spot them. With so many runners, you might miss each other unless you are both aware of a planned area. It’s a great motivation for the runners to see someone they know cheering them on.
Wear your name on your shirt
This is a classic tradition for Marathons. Spectators love to cheer you on by shouting your names. Wear your name proud!
Represent your country
The NYC Marathon is an international gathering of people throughout the world. Display your country proud and you will most certainly find supporters in the international crowd. Aracely wore her Ecuador soccer shirt and was a hit through Brooklyn and Queens where she high-fived many Latin kids.
Cell phone in your checked bag
As a runner who plans to meet guests after the race, it helps if you can call them when you finish. The post finish line of the NYC Marathon is a mile long. Runners can spend up to an hour escaping Central Park. Family and friends should remain patient and wait for the phone call from your runner.
Have warm clothes waiting for you
Remember, runners threw their warm clothes away at the beginning of the race. Have your friends or family waiting with warm clothes in hand at the end of the race.
A marathon is a great way to discover a new city. Many marathon runners see the world this way. Start running!