Image via Wikimedia: MTA

After much anticipation, the long awaited TCS New York City Marathon is officially kicking off this Sunday, November 5th. What began as a humble Central Park race with 55 finishers has now evolved into the world’s biggest marathon, spanning 26.2-miles across our diverse metropolis

This year, 50,000 runners will traverse through the five boroughs, cheered on by more than one million fans who will line up along the course. For non-runners who want to watch the marathon, WABC-TV, Channel 7 will be broadcasting the citywide event as it unfolds. Nothing, however, beats watching it live.

Although there’s no spectator viewing at the start of the marathon on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, there are plenty of prime viewing spots spread out across the city, as recommended by the organizers of TCS NYC Marathon (see full route here):

10. Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn (Miles 2-4)

Image via TCS NYC Marathon website

Catch the start of the marathon at this viewing location. After exiting the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, determined runners — still energetic and ready to go  — will race down Fourth Avenue, through the diverse neighborhood of Bay Ridge.

Once an Italian-American stronghold, the area is now home to a large Russian, Asian and Middle Eastern population — giving both runners and spectators a taste of the diversity that awaits.

9. Team for Kids Brooklyn Cheer Post

Image via TCS NYC Marathon website

Another recommended viewing location is along Fourth Avenue, at the southeast corner of Pacific Street. Track down the NYRR Team for Kids Brooklyn Cheer Post and offer words of encouragement to passing runners alongside a group of enthusiastic kids. Not only will you have a great view, you’ll also experience a bit of camaraderie here.

8. Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Miles 10-13)

Image via TCS NYC Marathon website

After a heavy bout of cheering, you might want to consider fueling up. Almost at the midway point of the race, miles 10-13 of the marathon tend to be a bit quieter. However, they’re located along streets filled with a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants. Take a moment to grab a light snack or a sit-down meal, before runners make their way across the Pulaski Bridge and into Queens.

7. Pulaski Bridge (Mile 13.1)

Image via TCS NYC Marathon website

Officially at the halfway mark, the Pulaski Bridge connects Brooklyn to Long Island City. On Sunday, the bridge will be closed off to spectators, but non-runners can wait on the Queens side as marathon participants cross over. (Runners are sure to appreciate loud cheers of support as they reach the halfway milestone.)

6. First Avenue, Manhattan (Miles 16-18)

Image via TCS NYC Marathon website

If you like to cheer amongst a rowdier crowd, First Avenue is always packed with spectators who “shout encouragement at deafening levels.” Runners often hear what is described as a “wall of sound” as they run off the Queensboro Bridge and into the Upper East Side.

The New York Post notes that this is the most popular stretch of the marathon — and there’s a reason for that: the street offers many bars and restaurants that help to create a festive, upbeat atmosphere. Feel free to pop in and out of these nearby establishments as the marathon unfolds throughout the day.

5. East Harlem (Miles 18-20)

Image via TCS NYC Marathon website

For those who want to avoid the congestion of the Upper East Side, miles 18-20 take place in East Harlem — also known as Spanish Harlem, where you can find a vibrant Latino community. It is in this neighborhood that runners worry about hitting the dreaded “wall.” The forthcoming miles are also rather hilly, so runners could certainly use a bit more motivation. On the bright side, there will likely be festive music playing throughout the day to keep spirits high and energy levels up.

4. New Balance Mile-20 Block Party, Bronx (135th Street and Alexander Avenue)

Image via TCS NYC Marathon website

Coming off the Willis Avenue Bridge in the Bronx, runners will come face to face with what is regarded as the most difficult part of the race. To help marathon participants conquer “the wall,” New Balance will be hosting a block party, complete with music by Bronx DJs, a dedicated cheer zone, a local drum line, a large interactive digital scene and cheers from the crowd, of course.

While this location is far from the most popular spot to catch the race, it’s situated at a point where runners need the most encouragement to power through.

3. Fifth Avenue, East 90th Street-East 105th Street (Miles 23-24)

Image via TCS NYC Marathon website

You most likely won’t be visiting any museums during the marathon, but this leg of the race will take runners through the Museum Mile, situated on the east side of Central Park. As participants race down Fifth Avenue, they’ll pass some of New York City’s most famous institutions, including the Guggenheim Museum, the Jewish Museum, the National Academy Museum, El Museo del Barrio, and the Museum of the City of New York.

2. Team for Kids Manhattan Cheer Post

Image via TCS NYC Marathon website

If you missed the first cheer post in Brooklyn, join the Team for Kids crew in Manhattan. From noon-onwards, they will be cheering from Fifth Avenue at East 106th Street.

1. United Stage: Columbus Circle

Image via TCS NYC Marathon website

You can catch runners at United Stage: Columbus Circle before they head through Central Park and make a beeline for the finish line at 67th Street on West Drive. You’ll need to purchase a Grandstand Seating ticket in advance to catch the final stretch of the race; otherwise the United Stage offers a great view.

The post-finish area is not open to spectators. However, if you’d like to reunite with a runner, head to the Family Reunion section, located on Central Park West between West 60th Street and West 65th Street. It’s open from 12pm to 5pm, and visitors can enter from Broadway at the cross-street that correlates with the first letter of the last name of the participant (see map).

Next, read about 17 Art Installations and Exhibits in NYC Not to Miss in October.