I ran the NYC Marathon in 2018 and I loved it. With about 2.5 months to go until the NYC marathon, I thought I’d share some of my tips.
- Enjoy the expo. The NYC marathon is the biggest marathon in the world and there is lots of gear and merchandise you can buy at the expo. After picking up your bib you’ll first go through the NB store. If you’re a bit of a geek when it comes to marathon merchandise (like me), don’t go on the last day, because most of it will be sold out by then. After that there are lots of running companies offering their products. Some even have limited edition NYC Marathon stuff, like some shoe and running sock companies.
- Opening ceremony. On the Friday before the race there will be an Opening Ceremony in Central Park with runners from all participating countries waving their national flags and having fun and there will be fireworks at the end.
It’s free, but you do need a get a ticket at the expo if you want to have a place to sit.
- Make sure you take some old clothes with you that you can throw away. It can be a very long wait on Staten Island on race morning (depending on your transport and your starting wave). I had to wait for about 4 hours before I got to cross the starting line. I was wearing an old pair of sweatpants, two zip up hoodies and a cheap rain jacket over my running gear.
There are bins in which you can donate these clothes all over the starting village. I dumped my extra layers in these right before I got into my corral. I also brought two garbage bags, one to sit on and one I could wear if it was a bit wet.
- Enjoy the crowds. There aren’t only a lot of runners, there are also a lot of spectators cheering you on. Also, don’t forget to read the signs they hold up, some are really funny. My favourite one was a girl holding up a sign near the 22 mile mark that said: Humpty Dumpty had a wall issue too. Most of the roads you’ll be running on are really wide, so you can decide to run on the side of the road next to the crowds and be cheered on or if you find it a bit overwhelming at times you can run in the middle of the road. But just make sure you don’t drown out the crowds by listening to music. I really liked using my Aftershokz when I was getting tired. It was still safe since I could still hear the marshals and people around me, including the crowds, but I could also listen to my New York themed playlist while running through Central Park.
- Poncho or Bag drop. Before the end of September you need to pick between the poncho and the bag drop. This obviously depends on personal preference, but I think it also depends on how long you have to travel back to your accommodation after you finish. My hotel was in Midtown Manhattan so not that far from the finish. General things I put in my drop off bag are some clothes to keep me warm and something to drink (mostly Coca-Cola). I decided to go for the poncho option since my hotel wasn’t that far so it wouldn’t take me hours to get back, the poncho would keep me warm instead of a sweater and I would be in the middle of Manhattan so finding food or drinks on my way back wouldn’t be an issue. If you pick the poncho option you get the exit Central Park first, bag drop people have to keep going to pick up their bags. Plus the poncho is a nice souvenir, it’s not one of those cheap plastic ponchos you wear before the start of a race, but a nice one that has fleece on the inside (I still have mine and my cat sleeps on it occasionally). And there are lovely volunteers that help you put it on after the race. I liked seeing the sea of light blue ponchos making their way out of Central Park and spreading out over Manhattan.
They were easy to spot on my way back to the hotel and I congratulated all the ponchos I passed on finishing the marathon (of course also everyone else who sported the medal, but the ponchos were much easier to spot).
- Medal Monday (or maybe Tuesday?). Medal Monday in NYC after the marathon isn’t just an Instagram thing, it’s an actually thing. You can go to the marathon pavilion in Central Park and get you medal engraved and get special finisher gear that you couldn’t get at the expo. When I went on Monday it was cold and raining and the line for the medal engraving was very long. So I took the short line without engraving and just went in to buy a finisher hoodie. Then later on I saw on Facebook that the NYRR were also doing medal engravings on Tuesday at their HQ. I would leave until Tuesday evening, so on Tuesday morning I went to the HQ, since most of the runners go back on Monday there was way less of a line there. I still had to wait and it was crowded since they HQ aren’t that big, but they gave you a number and you could sit inside and wait until your number was called instead of having to stand outside in the rain. So, if you’re still in NYC on Tuesday this might be worth checking out. They also had some more marathon gear in the store, so I ended up buying another shirt they still happened to have in my size while waiting.
Other things to do in NYC besides running the marathon:
- The High Line. It’s an old track that is now a park. It actually starts next to the Javits Center where the expo is, so I went there right after.
- The Staten Island Ferry. Some of you might take the Staten Island Ferry to the race village on race day, but if you don’t. It’s worth doing it on another day. It’s free and you pass by the Statue of Liberty while you have a nice view over Manhattan and you also get to see the Verrazzano Bridge which you’ll be running across on race day. You do need to get off at Staten Island, but you can easily board the ferry back.
- The Roosevelt Island Tramway. It’s a cable cart that’s next to the Queensboro Bridge, which you’ll also cross on race day. You do need a subway ticket to get on and off. And while you’re on Roosevelt Island it’s just a short walk to Four Freedoms Park where you also have a nice view.
- DUMBO. No, not the elephant. It stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. It’s in Brooklyn and you can easily get there with the subway. It gives you a nice view of the Manhattan Bridge, hence the name. But also of the more well known Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. You can also walk back over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan.