I’ve written about this in detail from a runner’s perspective, as the little things can be important when you’re choosing a marathon, or getting ready to run. I’ve split it into sections so you can skip to the parts you’re interested in.
I ran in 2022 which was unseasonably hot, so what people are wearing at the start in these photos is probably going to be very different to the usual November cold temperatures! (And if anyone would like to get me a Dunkin Donuts hat from the start area, I would love one, I was just too hot to pick it up – it was already over 20 degrees C at 5am!)
BEFORE THE MARATHON
NY road runners do a talk through the course with a video, and we found this really useful to get a feel for it from experienced runners.
Saturday shake out runs
For UK / parkrunners, as of November 2022, there was no NY parkrun. But various sports shops/ social media runner types organised shake out runs, so go with your favourite and see if they’re doing one.
Another option is Abbot’s 5km ‘Dash to the Finish’ which starts by the UN and finishes on the final section of the marathon course, including crossing the finish line. So this is a fun way for runners and/or family and fiends to check out/ experience the finish.
Prep for clocks change
The clocks often change overnight, so make sure your devices are going to be set to the right time for marathon day!
NEW YORK MARATHON DAY
Getting to the start
Ferry to Staten Island
There are several transport options depending on where you’re staying. We took the Ferry to Staten Island.
There are several ferries and it can be confusing. My husband had a Tour Company (’ITO’) ferry place and I got an additional ticket to go with him. The normal ferries take 60 minutes, the Tour one takes 30 minutes.
We were both Wave 1, Corral A and were surprised the 6am ITO ferry had runners from all waves, as this meant many would be waiting for several hours to start.
There was some security bag check to get on, and the ferry ride itself was great. We took the opportunity to eat breakfast and enjoyed seeing the Statue of Liberty on the way. The ferry even slowed down for this.
Staten Island ferry terminal & bus
Staten Island ferry terminal was in all honesty a bit of shock. It hadn’t been clear where the ITO ferry landed, but this terminal is where all runners from all ferries join up.
We joined a ‘queue’ that was more like a mass of people, and took about 30 minutes to get onto a bus. It was quite stressful as we could see that we were going to be tight to make it to our start time. There wasn’t any separation between runners with different start times, it was whoever was in the ‘queue’.
I hope they sort this out better for future years. Once you make it onto the bus, it takes about 20 minutes to drive to the start.
Once off the bus, you go through body and bag security checks. It’s then around a 10 minute walk into the village.
There were long queues for coffee (Dunkin), a little shorter for bagels (we didn’t have time for either) and not too bad wait for the toilets. You can donate old clothes or shoes before you go to the start.
It was around 5 minutes to the corrals. I didn’t find them super easy to locate, but I was in a slight rush after the bus.
My number was checked on the way in. There are toilets in the corrals.
When the corrals walk to the bridge to start (around 8:50 for us), although everyone keeps broadly in order, you could mix between groups if you really need to.
You might be on top or the bottom of the bridge, both are fun and give you a great view. For Wave 1, Green was slightly faster runners, who started on the top deck. Orange started on the bottom.
Seeing the bridge is impressive and we got to enjoy start cannons, US Anthem plus ‘New York New York’ for the elite, then our starts.
If you have a chance, look left to see boats jetting red, white and blue water and hooting the runners on, plus a great view across the water to Manhattan.
The first two miles are quite up and down, so it’s hard to check your pace til mile 3. If you’re aiming for a time, keep an eye on the NYC pacers, as they will get the first two miles right to hit the time goal.
(I would normally run to pace, but ran to heart rate to keep my effort as even as possible in the heat.)
There are several bridges along the way and they can feel a bit tiring, even going up small rises, especially as you get later into the marathon. The second half is ‘hillier’ including Central Park at the end which has inclines. Mile 23-24 is always going to feel hard, but being on an incline felt quite a killer, and the final mile is on an incline too. Many people don’t run a personal best time as it’s not completely flat, but some do, so be warned and good luck!
There’s water & Gatorade in cups. (As it was so hot, I spent most of my time looking for ice, which was laid on for the heat of 2022, although it had often run out as they couldn’t keep up with demand).
In 50+ marathons, I’ve yet to experience a water station without runners all doing odd manoeuvres and getting in the way of each other. This seemed particularly bad, and I missed a couple of drinks where I found the stations shorter than I thought, but it may have been worse in 2022 as everyone was drinking more.
There is tracking for spectators. This is predicted off a runner’s pace, not completely live tracking, so use it to help you, but keep your eyes peeled! (We learned this when my husband stopped to wait for me at mile 16, but didn’t realise it wasn’t live, so waited 8 minutes, missed me and then couldn’t catch back up!)
The crowds were amazing the whole way – loud, positive and lots of great signs. I had my name on my top and I really enjoyed getting cheered round by name, as I didn’t have any supporters watching me, so it felt nice and personal.
After your medal, you collect a bag and poncho. Then it’s a longish walk out of the park, good for the legs to recover.
All that’s left to say is good luck and I hope you have a fantastic marathon.
If you’d like to remember your training, the marathon itself or wish someone good luck or congratulations, check out my New York items here.