Runner Jonny reviews the New York City marathon route, logistics, and overall experience. Read why he was converted from a skeptic to a fan!
Review: New York City Marathon Route, Logistics, and Overall Experience
Race: New York City Marathon
Location: New York, NY
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1263149499
3 Bests – What aspects of the New York City Marathon route and overall race did you like the most?
The crowds, the crowds and the crowds. They say 2 million people lined the course. It was utterly unbelievable. It was also so amazing to run through the different neighbourhoods and experience the cultural varieties New York offers.
Not so much – What about the New York City Marathon didn’t you like?
Running mostly trail and ultra races, I like the small-town feel of these races and the ability to walk up to the start line an hour before, collect your number and head off. This was totally different. There was a fair amount of standing around time. Getting up at 5:30am for a 10:15am start time felt a tad ridiculous. That said, when trying to get 50,000+ runners to a start line and on their way these are the sacrifices that need to be made.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
Honestly, I was really skeptical about these mega-marathons. The logistics, the headache and planning all seemed so unnecessary. Going into it, I was so apathetic. Running the race turned that opinion around 180-degrees. The energy and excitement generated from running with thousands of other people, the inspiration of those with disabilities completing the race and the amazing crowds (as well as high-fiving Kevin Hart, who was running too) made the experience something truly special. The race itself was not the focus of my season so I went out to enjoy myself, not blow up and not run so hard I lost the next week of running to recovery; happily all that was achieved.
Lessons Learned – share your pro-tips on the New York City Marathon to help the next runner or yourself on the next time around:
Get into the planning details, I didn’t know enough about how to get to the start line and that song and dance that involved until the week before when registration for official services had closed. I recommend researching and understanding these options way earlier than I did.
What do runners need to know about the New York City marathon route?
There is a 2ish mile hill at mile 24, be prepared, I wasn’t. (Check out our overall NYC Marathon page for more course-specifics!)
Organized and well run – did the New York City Marathon feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
A well oiled machine doesn’t quite do justice to just how well this race is organized and run, especially when you consider the number of participants involved.
Logistics – Anything special regarding getting to/from the race, hotels around the course, registration…?
I mentioned getting to the race above, otherwise the rest is up to you. We went for an AirBnb in Park Slope which gave us easy subway access to Manhattan and an easy escape after the marathon but there are plenty of good options.
Weather and typical race conditions:
I don’t think conditions could have been better, in the 50s and overcast, made for a great day.
Is the New York City Marathon route friendly for spectators?
Very friendly for spectators and in many places the crowds are two or three deep. To see the finish line you do have to pay for tickets in the grandstand though. The organizers identify several key spots but really anywhere along the course is easily accessible to spectators, as you get into Manhattan it gets very busy though. I high-fived my wife and kids at around mile 8 as we passed through Park Slope which was great and then it was easy to find them after the race too.
How’s the swag?
The swag is pretty dope. You get a nice long sleeved New Balance shirt at bib pickup. You can buy plenty of other (heavily over-priced) goodies too. Post-race the poncho is unbelievably good. They also provide a bag with water, protein milk and snacks. The medal has some serious heft, and if you visit the expo on the Monday you can get it engraved with your name and finish time.
How many stars do you give the New York City Marathon and do you recommend that others run it?
10/10 – try to make sure you run this race!