The start of the NYC Marathon over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Photo by MTA/Patrick Cashin from Wikimedia
The TCS New York City Marathon is both an esteemed athletic event and a city-wide spectator sport, which was founded in 1970 but had many earlier incarnations prior. The 2018 NYC Marathon will take place on November 4th, with competitors of all types coming from around world, hoping to complete the 26.2 mile course through the five boroughs of New York City. We consulted with former NYC marathon runners to put together this unconventional guide to the NYC Marathon. Below is a full map of the route and read on for ten fun things to check out during the NYC Marathon, whether you’re a runner or a spectator.
1. The Quietest Spots on the Marathon Route
Along most of the NYC Marathon route, crowds of strangers line up alongside to liven up the race cheering and offering emotional and physical support. But there are a few key moments where the race can be eerily silent, apart from the sound of sneakers pattering the pavement. There are five bridges along the NYC Marathon route – the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (soon to gain a correct second “z” in the name), the Pulaski Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge, the Willis Avenue Bridge, and the Madison Avenue Bridge.
According to Untapped Cities co-founder Augustin Pasquet, who ran the NYC Marathon in 2015, the quietest moments for him were along the Queensboro Bridge due to the contrast with the rowdiness in Williamsburg and Greenpoint in miles 11 to 13. New York Congressional candidate Suraj Patel tells us that the Queensboro Bridge was also the “most miserable” portion of the marathon. “It’s pretty but you don’t realize how high the bridges go over the East River until you run over them. It’s a long, steady incline right around the 16 mile wall that everyone hits. And then there’s the bone chilling wind. It’s the coldest part of the run.” Untapped Cities writer Jeff Reuben says “Other than a few volunteers, spectators are not allowed on the bridge, so it’s quiet and isolated, but soon after crossing the bridge onto 1st Avenue and being hit by a wall of sound and lots of people – it’s a really intense audio-visual experience.”
The Pulaski Bridge, between Brooklyn and Queens is quite short, as are the other bridges besides the initial Verrazano crossing, making the Queensboro Bridge section particularly notable.
Augustin and Brian Oh, who has been an annual participant in the NYC Marathon since 2013, also note that another distinctively quiet moment along the route is in South Williamsburg, around the Hasidic Jewish neighborhoods. Brian says, “One of the strangest, eeriest sections of the route is near Marcy Avenue, It suddenly becomes an absolute ghost town for about a mile or two, zero supporters along the sides.” Augustin says the community goes about their usual activities, with the marathon running through.