NYC Marathon Race Report – Matt U

In this NYC Marathon race report, Matt Urbanski shares his experience running the 2016 marathon and what you need to know for your race!

2016 NYC Marathon Race Report

Race: NYC Marathon –

Runner: Matt U

Date: 11/6/2016

Location: New York City

Results – 313th place out of 51,390 finishers; 2:49.27

3 Bests – what aspects of the NYC Marathon did you like the most?

  • Great spectators and energy on the course. This is a one of a kind marathon.
  • The weather was near perfect. Cool and crisp autumn day with sunshine.
  • It felt “big time”. There were nearly 52,000 runners in this race. Everything from the expo to the start area, to the finish were all huge. What an experience!

Not so much – what aspects of the NYC Marathon didn’t do it for you?

  • The slow going to get to the start area nearly had Dave and me locked out of our front start corral. Granted, we should have taken an earlier ferry to Staten Island, but based on some info we received at the expo, we thought we were fine, until the lines at the ferry terminal, which lead to lines for the bus at Staten Island, which lead to standstill traffic bussing to the start….we finally got the bus driver to let us off the bus and we ran to the start area, arriving just as our corral was being closed.

Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about the NYC Marathon?

  • Not an easy question for me to answer, but as I think about it, it seems odd that they have us start on Staten Island. It feels like such a pain to get over there for the start, whereas a start that was near the finish in Central Park may be way easier logistically. What do I know? I have to believe someone is thinking about this and there is a good reason for starting on SI, but what a hassle!

Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

  • I smiled a lot and kept it relatively under control throughout. I faded in the final 10k but not horribly so. I ran to my fitness, though I would have liked my fitness to have been better!

Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the NYC Marathon to help the next runner

  • Wear warm clothes that you can donate at the start area. There was so much standing around prior to the start. Be ready for it with food, drink, and warm clothes. We had a nice year with sunny weather. If it were rainy and cold, the long wait times for the start could be awful and totally throw off your race.
  • It’d be easy to get too excited on this course. I started in the front corral and I somehow still managed to be dodging people left and right for nearly 5 miles, wondering the entire time how most of the people I was passing ever got in front of me in the first place. I tried to remember to not waste energy at this point, but it was tough because the course was so packed and the crowds so loud.

Lessons you learned about the NYC Marathon that will help you next time around

  • Start my journey to start earlier. Bring more warm clothes. Bring water. Also, have a specific plan for what you’re doing when the race is over. The big lessons to learn from this race revolve less around the race itself and more around the pre and post-race logistical issues. With a race this big, it is a mad house to get anywhere. We had to walk more than a half mile just to get out of the shoot after the race was over. It was more walking after that to get anywhere one would need to go. Be ready for this and have a plan – it’ll make your day much better.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the NYC Marathon

  • If you don’t run hills, then this course can be challenging. Be ready for the hills. Even with some hill training, I found the bridge during mile 15-16 to be challenging. Be ready for this. Know when the hills are too, it’ll help you be mentally ready, and will remind you to keep your legs under you for the running around Central Park near the end.

Aesthetics – is it a pretty course

  • It’s a city, so if you don’t find cities pretty, this one won’t be pretty. However, it’s a classic city marathon that takes you through unique parts of NYC, with different things highlighting each section of the race. It was extra pretty this year due to the nice fall weather.

Difficulty – is it a tough course

  • Yes and no. Rolling hills throughout, but people still run 2:07 on this course.

Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

  • It’s organized really well. We had to decide back in July what our transportation to the start was going to be and if we wanted a checked bag or not. Everything was coded on our bibs and machine-like. That said, it was still a little crazy seeing so many people being herded along from the SI ferries to the buses.

Competition – is there a strong field?

  • World class

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

  • Hotels are expensive. Logistics can be challenging. Food in NY is expensive. This is not a cheap race in any way. The entry fee was even pricey relative to other races. There is a lottery for most to get into so it’s tough in that way too. There is also an auto-entry process based on previous fast times. However, everything is spelled out clearly regarding logistics and lodging and start times, etc. It just takes a bit more work on the front end to actually have a smooth, hassle-free experience on race weekend.

Aid Stations

  • Lots. Water and Gatorade. There were some gels at some spots too; I don’t remember what kind.

Weather and typical race conditions 

  • Excellent. However, it’s the east coast in November – it could also be awful!

Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?

  • Nothing special. Normal road racing gear. I didn’t need to carry anything extra, apart from a few extra gels. Aid stations were sufficient.

Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends?

  • Wow! Spectators galore. That being said, I remember being a spectator here a decade ago and it was tough to find a spot to cheer over in Manhattan because there were so many fans lining the streets.

How are the awards/SWAG?

  • A finisher’s medal. Money for the elites. And a sweet warm rain poncho if you selected the poncho option (opposed to the check bag option). That was probably the coolest thing I’ve gotten at a race lately!

The Overall Score – how many stars do you give the NYC Marathon and do you recommend that others run it

  • 5 out of 5. If you can run it, do it. It may very well not be your fastest, but you’ll remember it. You’ll remember all the excitement, the huge crowds, and the overall unique life experience you’ll get by running the New York Marathon.

Thinking about running a race? Check out our coach’s tips for finding the best running race for you.

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