I hope that you are gearing up for the best day of the year in New York City – running or watching the New York City Marathon this Sunday!
I have made a commitment that if I’m not running it, I definitely go out to cheer on the runners.
Perhaps you are you running!
The new app makes tracking your friends and family very easy.
That said, knowing where to watch the race can be the difference between seeing your friends and just watching strangers – or, even worse, looking at the backs of the people in front of you.
Here’s a link to the course
is my list of five favorite places to watch the NYC Marathon:
(1) CLINTON HILL
Set up between miles 8 and 9.
The runners just will have
finished the straight first miles down 4th Avenue, and once they get through Downtown Brooklyn you’ll see them settling into a good rhythm for their racing.
Surround yourself with cheering, drum-beating, hip-hop playing, boisterous folks in
the place to be if you want to get there early and start your drinking! Lots of sun, lots of energy, not impossible to see your friends as long as they know where you’ll be.
And, an even better place to cheer for strangers.
(2) LONG ISLAND CITY – Somewhere between miles 14 and 15, depending on where you’re coming from
Generally, it’s pretty desolate, but it’s a very easy place to get to by subway, and it’s a moment when the runners are still in a good mood but need every boost they can get before they hit the Queensboro Bridge.
Seeing a friend on the course at this moment is really perfect.
(3) UPPER EAST SIDE in the low 100’s and 1st avenue
Between miles 18 and 19
While the 2nd Avenue subway will make this event easier in a couple of years, this location is past where the crush of people are.
The sun will be in your face, the runners will be pretty tired, and again – they will be SO happy to see you there.
From miles 16 to 18 there is elevation (read: hill) pretty surprising to
By the time they get to 100th Street, with the thinning crowds, you can see them, and they can see you.
Also, they just
will have gotten a goo at the power bar station at mile 18, so you may get a caffeine-infused sloppy runner’s hug.
(4) THE BRONX
Right at the mile 20 marker
If you’re even a tiny bit adventurous, head to the boogie down Bronx.
Very easy to get to on the 6 train, and essentially a ghost town.
The runners need you most at this moment.
Yes, you’ll get to see all the construction in the South Bronx, and maybe this area will become the next hip area – but for now, you will find your running friends at the bleakest.
Some runners will be in the zone, and others will be looking for focus, and having cramps or worse.
will LOVE you for cheering them on.
(5) UPPER EAST SIDE
@ Central Park – 5th Avenue and 106th or so
Between miles 22 and 23
Walk from 1st Avenue if you choose to watch there.
By this point in the race, the runners are completely exhausted.
They need your love and attention.
Up in the 100’s, it again will be very easy to see your runners.
There’s a killer incline from
110th to 90th Streets, and the louder you cheer, the easier it becomes for them to get to 90th, where they enter the park!
There also are
terrible places to watch the marathon, unless you like the feeling of being pushed by crowds, akin to trying to get around Disney World during Christmas Week.
is my list of 5 worst places to watch the marathon, or “places to avoid”:
(1) THE TURN AT THE WILLIAMSBURG SAVINGS BANK – Downtown Brooklyn
Between miles 7 and 8
For the first 7 miles of the race, both sides of 4th Avenue are used –
essentially two parallel races
run by the people who started on the top of the Verrazano, and on
the lower level.
They meet and combine
in Downtown Brooklyn.
like Bourbon Street on New Year’s Eve, or the Running of the Bulls, perhaps you’ll enjoy the
massive mess here.
You won’t see your friends there, but
you may get run over by an angry stroller mom from Park Slope.
(2) WILLIAMSBURG @ BEDFORD STREET
Between miles 10 and 12
This is more of a nuanced complaint.
From miles 10 to 11, you get the blank stares of religious
Jews who live there.
It’s an odd lack of connection to
They know it’s coming every year, and they do line the streets – but they still manage to make it a
Then, once the runners pass under the Williamsburg Bridge, Bedford Street gets very narrow, and the apathetic, too-cool crowd with either artisanal coffee or craft beer in hand makes it just too precious to whoop it up as a viewing.
Translation: they don’t cheer enough and take up too much space.
The vibe isn’t weird, just lame.
(3) 1ST AVENUE FROM 60th-90th
Between miles 16 and 18
The energy is electric, really an incredible surge when the runners have reached Manhattan.
the crowds are 6-10 people
So, if you want to plug into the energy at its highest level, then it’s great to experience – but
it’s very hard to see anything other than the tushies of the people in front of you.
Kids on shoulders.
Plan to negotiate to get to the front of the rows to see your runners, and feel very lucky if you see them.
I’d avoid the area if you can go Uptown.
(4) CENTRAL PARK SOUTH
Between miles 25 and 26
Prepare to scream for everyone but see no one you know.
It’s the end, people are joyously running
Either they were ready for the race, or they started too fast, or they simply fell apart.
It’s happened to everyone, at least once, who’s run lots of races.
At this point of the race, it’s similar to the 1st Avenue arrival to Manhattan, but in the shade – so if it’s a cold day, you usually are hit with a stiff breeze.
The runners won’t look at you, or they’ll give faint smiles.
It’s yeoman’s work, cheering people who just want to finish … seems like a less exciting place to watch.
(5) THE FINISH LINE
Well, mile 26…
Of course you want to see your friends and loved ones finish.
But the end of the race is a mush, a
bleachers, with tons of security.
Also, the chances you’ll see your friends there are impossible!
When you think about it, you’ll realize what a tangle you’ll get yourself into.
Even finding them in the family waiting areas is hard enough!
I hope this gives you some food for thought.
Go out and cheer – it’s an amazing day!