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As one of the world’s largest group marathons the, NYC Marathon attracts an astonishing number of people who train and push themselves to complete the 26 mile course.
The marathon has grown steadily since it started back in 1970; it is another tradition of the New York Road Runners, the group also behind the New Year’s Eve Fun Run in Central Park. The marathon became so big that in 2010 there were over 40,000 people who finished the race. That’s not counting those that gave up before getting to the finish line, and not taking into account the thousands of spectators who line the streets of New York to watch the proceedings.
What’s the route?
The first marathon took place in 1970 and didn’t have a set route for the runners. Instead the runners did lap after lap around Central Park until they had racked up the 26 miles that were needed to call their run a marathon. These days the route is a bit more sophisticated and quite aptly, runs through all five of NYC’s boroughs; Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.
The race starts just short of the Verrazaro-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island. The bridge, which is usually open to vehicles only, closes for the day to allow 80,000 sneakered feet to make their way across with fresh gusto. Of course, with 26 miles still ahead of the runners, the enthusiasm and speed doesn’t last forever and it slowly wanes through the next eleven miles which wind through Brooklyn taking in many of the borough neighborhoods.
The halfway point is marked at just over 13 miles when the runners reach the Pulaski Bridge. On the other side of the bridge the they enter Queens via Long Island City and still the crowds cheer them on. Two miles of the run pass through Queens before participants reach the Queensboro Bridge and cross over the East River to Manhattan. From here it’s an uphill struggle; the road up to the bridge is a steep one and many of the runners begin to lag but with 10 miles remaining it’s time for a second push.
The other side of the bridge marks the 16th mile and the run covers a short stint into The Bronx then carries on back into Manhattan crossing over Madison Avenue Bridge and continuing down Fifth Avenue until the race reaches its final legs in Central Park.
The Central Park part of the run is the most exciting; it is where spectators gather to cheer on the runners who have managed to complete the 26 mile circuit within the given time limit of 8 ½ hours.
Facts about the NYC Marathon
In order to make the race fair, official time statistics are taken from a chip which is put inside the runner’s shoe. This measures the time between the participant crossing the start line at the beginning of the race, and reaching the finishing line at the end. This makes it easier to define who the winner is in the case of a tie.
Like most major marathons, the professional, or ‘elite’ runners are given a head start to get on with the race before the amateurs and fun runners join in. Over the years the marathon has had its fair share of discrepancies and controversies which have included incorrect timings, and cutting corners.
How to see the NYC Marathon
Spectators can catch a peek of the runners from almost any point along its 26 mile route when it takes place on the first Sunday in November each year. If you want to feel the buzz make your way to Central Park early in the day and get comfortable for when the first few runners start arriving between 12:30 and 1pm.