The New York City Marathon is one of the most spectacular road races in the world. It’s an event that transcends the sport — raising money for charities and entertaining millions of people. And you don’t need to be taking part in order to soak up the atmosphere. In fact, tailoring your day in New York City around the race will create an experience you’ll never forget.
New York City Marathon took place on November 3, 2019. To ensure you get the full NYC Marathon experience, there are a few things you need to know before planning your day.
Get to Know the Route
The New York City Marathon route actually goes through all five boroughs of the city. By using the route as the basis for your own experience, you’ll be able to see some of New York’s most famous landmarks.
If you want to see the start of the race, you need to be in Staten Island. The runners cross the Verrazano Bridge and make their way into Brooklyn. There are then six relatively flat miles in Brooklyn, which takes competitors to the Pulaski Bridge — and into Queens. A three-mile slog (mostly uphill) culminates with a trip over the Queensboro Bridge and into Manhattan. Then it’s onto the Willis Avenue Bridge, into the Bronx and back into Manhattan via the Madison Avenue Bridge. Park yourself at Columbus Circle in Central Park if you want to see the runners cross the finish line.
Feel the Excitement
There are some great vantage points along the route — where you can both watch the action and soak up the atmosphere. Three miles into the route is Bay Ridge. Stand on the intersection of Fourth Avenue and 86th Street for the best view of the race. This is a great place to stand if you want to witness a crowd of thousands advancing through the early stages of the route.
Check Out the Fancy Dress
Another good spot for cheering the runners on can be found eight miles into the route — in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Stand on Lafayette Avenue, and soak up the party atmosphere as the runners pass by. At this stage of the race, the field will be nicely broken up, so you’ll be able to make eye contact with the competitors and get a look at the fancy dress costumes on display.
A Quieter Experience
For a quieter experience, head to South Williamsburg in Brooklyn, which is around 10 miles into the race. This area is a traditional Hasidic neighborhood, which means Sunday is a normal working day for many. As a result, the tourist throngs aren’t quite as big.
An Electric Atmosphere
One of the most electric atmospheres anyone can experience at the New York City Marathon can be found on the Upper East Side — where First Avenue meets 77th Street. Runners describe the sound they hear as they leave the Queensboro Bridge as a “wall of sound.” This is a very crowded vantage point, however, so get there early. But if you’re looking for a party atmosphere, this is the place to be.
Check Out the Street Celebrations
Right along the NYC Marathon route, you’ll find street performers, music, spur-of-the-moment celebrations and organized events. Take Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn, for example, which has a reputation for street entertainment during the marathon. The Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School Band plays the “Rocky” theme as runners pass by, and a range of solo performers do their best to keep spectators entertained.
If you want to create a little atmosphere of your own, head to Long Island City in Queens. This is where spectators get involved by ringing the orange cowbells handed out by New York Road Runners (NYRR). There’s also an official cheering zone, where it’s your job to keep the runners motivated.
Another entertainment zone can be found at Marcus Garvey Park West in Harlem. Immerse yourself in a cacophony of music here, as the musical soul of Harlem comes to life for the duration of the race. Gospel singers and churchgoers belt out inspirational music, some of which includes audience participation.
Visit the Best Bars and Restaurants Along the Route
There are literally hundreds of restaurants and bars along the NYC Marathon route. A popular watering hole is Lock Yard in Bay Ridge. Located on Fifth Avenue, this beer bar and garden is located inside an old locksmith’s shop. The specialties of the house include craft beers and a range of sausages made on the premises.
Spend some time watching the Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School band in action in Fort Greene, then head to OLEA Mediterranean Tavern for a spot of brunch. Try the OLEA Breakfast: scrambled eggs served with fattoush, pita bread and herb yogurt.
Give yourself culinary options by watching the action in South Williamsburg. Just a short walk from the route is the world-famous hipster area, awash with trendy coffee shops, stylish bars and top-class restaurants. If you’re in need of warmth, get a table at Pies ‘n’ Thighs on Fourth Street. The offerings include classic comfort food such as fruit pie, waffles and chicken biscuits.
You truly are spoilt for choice when it comes to refreshment stops and watering holes along the NYC Marathon route. Make sure check out Latin fusion eatery Stop by Blend in Long Island City, The Pony Bar on the Upper East Side and popular brunch hotspot Red Rooster in Harlem.
You don’t need to compete in order to soak up the unique atmosphere created by the New York City Marathon. Plan your stay in advance with the help of Gosur, and you’ll be able to experience the event to its fullest.