The New York City Marathon is pure magic — and it’s just two weeks away! That means it’s officially time to start stalking the weather and watching inspirational videos ’round the clock, right?
Everything about this race gives me happy chills, from the mile marker flags throughout the boroughs to the bleachers lining Central Park, leading up to the finish line. The marathon draws a palpable energy from runners and spectators alike and it is, to many in this city, the best day of the year.
If you’re a New Yorker, this is your hometown race. It starts with incredible views of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn, and the Hudson River. It winds through roads you know and love, and finishes in Central Park — the world’s best backyard.
If you’re a visitor to New York, welcome! This is the absolute best way to see and experience a taste of the five boroughs, in my opinion.
Every year, whether I’m running, volunteering, or screaming from the sidelines, I look forward to the first Sunday in November. If you’ve been training for the past few months, you’re probably already pretty psyched and ready to get to Fort Wadsworth, where the race begins. But if you need some extra pep in your tapered step, here are a few things that may help…
If you’re running the New York City Marathon for the first time and have questions about what it’s like at the start, this post will be helpful. (And reassuring — I’ve run the race twice and never felt like I was waiting around forever. It’s not bad, promise, and people are really nice!)
Want a super comprehensive guide to the course beyond the basics? Here you go.
Wondering what the difference is between the Blue, Orange, and Green waves? This post has loads of helpful pre-race information. (No, you won’t get peed on if you’re on the lower level of the bridge. Urban race myth!)
This video, because what’s more New Yorky than gorgeous shots of New York and Alec Baldwin’s voice? “Today, the city that doesn’t stop for anything — stops for this. A marathon.” Watch it without getting chills. I dare you.
This video, which is funny and well done and makes me cry. Of course.
This video, which also makes me cry. I cry at everything. Ugh.
This video, which gives you a good look at what the start village is actually like (don’t stress about it!) and then brings you along as Casey Neistat runs the race.
This video of Alicia Keys running the marathon. When she hugs her family at the finish line? Ugh. Precious.
This video, which gives a good idea of what it’s like along the course. So many sights and sounds! So many bands! So many happy people!
This video, which was adorable and creative, and helped these two runners raise $9,000 for Fred’s Team.
This video, which shows some cool angles of the race starting on the Verrazano Bridge. I love that view.
This video, which always makes me LOL. It’s funny…cuz it’s true.
Meb Keflezighi winning the race in 2009. Who doesn’t love Meb?
This list of FREE events happening in the city leading up to the marathon. Run with Meb and Shalane Flanagan!
As for me? I ran the marathon for the first time in 2013, then ran it again in 2014. Last year, I volunteered at a water station with November Project, which was just as fun — and possibly just as tiring — as running the race. It’s too late to sign up to be an official volunteer now, but I highly recommend doing it at least once.
My personal tips for the race offer nothing you haven’t already heard a million times:
- Bring warm clothes to wear while you’re waiting at the start village.
- If you normally run with headphones, consider ditching them, at least for the first half of the race. The crowds in Brooklyn are better than any Rihanna remix you may have cued up.
- Look around. Even if you’re going for a PR, there’s so much to see over the course of these 26.2 miles. Take it all in as best you can.
- There are porta-potties every mile along the course. Yay!
- Yes, the walk out of the park after you finish feels long, whether you checked a bag or not. But it’s kind of nice to keep the legs moving, so do that.
If you’re running it, enjoy every single step. Enjoy the views from the ferry and the camaraderie at the start village in Staten Island. Enjoy hearing “New York, New York” at the start line, then enjoy winding through Brooklyn (Brooklyn is my favorite part of the course!). Enjoy the official November Project water station at Mile 10! Enjoy the short-lived quiet as you climb — and then descend — the Queensboro Bridge, and then enjoy the madness that is Manhattan’s First Avenue (control the pace here, though!). Enjoy your quick jaunt through the Bronx, then enjoy the awesomely lively crowds in Harlem. Try to enjoy the slow, gradual climb down Fifth Avenue, and then make that right turn into Central Park.
As you turn into the park at Engineers’ Gate, give a little wave to my friend Bernie (Bernie’s Bench!), and take in all that gorgeous foliage. Enjoy breezing down Cat Hill (I always give a little salute to the cat perched on the hill, which will be on your right), then exit the park for a bit, knowing the finish line is, actually, right around the corner. Enjoy the people screaming along Central Park South, then make that final right turn back into the park.
Enjoy the first glimpse of the finish line up ahead, the music blasting, and the final tiny climb toward the line.
Enjoy it all. It’s the best day ever.
WHO’S RUNNING IT?! Who’s watching? Who’s volunteering? And of course, share anything you have on hand to spread the excitement! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!