NYC Marathons

| by Jason | 11 Comments » | Adventures, North America, United States

New York City Marathon

NYC Marathon Runners on 1st Avenue

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.

New York City Marathon

NYC Marathon Runners in Central Park

International Event

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.

New York City Marathon

Guy Running in Full Orange Suit

Marathon Entrants

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.

New York City Marathon

Runners Entering Central Park

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.

New York City Marathon

NYC Marathon Water Station in Central Park


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.

New York City Marathon

Cheering for Marathon Runners

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.

New York City Marathon

NYC Marathon Runners Central Park

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.

New York City Marathon

Aracely & Her NYC Marathon Medal

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!

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Written by Jason

Co-founder of Jason has been traveling, writing, taking photos and creating adventure videos since 2024, when he departed on his first year long travel backpacking journey. Jason is a full-time blogger and social marketing guru trying to find the way. Visit my website

11 Responses to “NYC Marathons”

  1. We ran in the Eurasia Marathon in Istanbul this year – except not the marathon. We did the 15k and 8k. Great fun running across the Bosphorus Bridge! Not quite as organised as the New York marathon judging by your post. No refreshments for us 8k runners – unless we bought a bottle of water from the street sellers! :)

    • Jason says:

      That sounds like quite a different level or organization there. Running in these races, or even walking, is such a wonderful way to experience new places. How often do we get to walk / run over bridges in major cities with no cars!

  2. Kristin says:

    Great post Jason! I went last year, traveled from Colombia overnight to NYC to watch my aunt run and it was such an amazing experience!! The event is truly a collaboration from runners all over the world and the people on the sidelines always had the most incredible stories!! Everyone should go watch this race at least once!! Even for me, watching my aunt run was such an emotional experience. Thanks for sharing and congrats to aracely!

    • Jason says:

      Thanks Kristin! It was an awesome experience, even as a spectator. I was so amazed at the crowds enthusiasm and international mix. It was a great feeling to be a part of it all. Congratulations to your Aunt also! It’s a great feat no matter when she ran it.

  3. Michael says:

    Congrats on finishing the race!!!! I know how hard this event can be though I never ran myself, I volunteered there before. Must have been an amazing rewarding experiencing.

  4. Andi says:

    CONGRATS!!!!!! One day I will run this. :)

  5. SO cool. I have always wanted to run this marathon. But an injury in high school that was never corrected has taken me out of running. Instead, I hope I get to volunteer one day. This was a really great post!

    • Jason says:

      They welcome many volunteers for these races. You can get information via the New York Road Runners club. They typically manage the races in NYC. You would have a wonderful time. They also run races through Central Park all year long where you can volunteer.

  6. Congrats. Perhaps I should try this on horseback? Ha.

  7. Carole says:

    Enjoyed following the race on cable.i did see my cousin run it a few years back. Aracely looked great in the pic and jason’s observations interesting and informative.

  8. Laura says:

    Aracely looks much better than I did after finishing Chicago. Congrats!! My friend wants me to run NY with her…. it’s on my long-term list. I’m giving marathons a break for now and sticking to halves for a bit.

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