New York Marathon is one of the Abbott World Majors Marathon events and sees athletes from all around the world unite in the first weekend of November in pursuit of that highly desired star of six.

For this reason, it like the other five marathons is not a marathon you can just enter. The main ways of entering are; by running a qualifying time in an approved marathon and gaining a guaranteed entry; applying to run through the ballot; applying to run with a charity group and raise funds accordingly or by travelling as part of a travelling group like marathon tours, Travelling Fit etc.

Entry for the marathon itself costs USD300 and a 5km event aptly named the Abbott Dash the day prior which ends at the marathon finish in Central Park is open to all and costs USD50 to enter via the website in the weeks prior.

In the months leading up to the event it’s important to think about your pre and post race plan. You will receive an email asking whether you would like a poncho or bag check and receive numerous travel options to the start to choose from. Once you have selected your option and the date has closed these options cannot be changed.

Arriving into NYC the city is a buzz of Halloween and the many runners sporting jackets from current and previous years. It’s a massive weekend and many non marathon running locals love the weekend to participate in the 5km Abbott Dash or simply line the streets and cheer on the 65,000 athletes as they pass.

Halloween also marks the start of preparations for the approaching holiday seasons with outdoor ice skating rinks, turkey sales, Christmas markets opening; and store displays starting to appear. If travelling with family and children NYC has a Halloween parade in Manhattan starting at 7pm. Shopping is plentiful and Central Park is a great place for a picnic or a play with children while watching squirrels. Tip. Squirrels love organic Almonds. Think of it as helping them through the next few months ahead!

NYC also boasts an array of attractions including the Brooklyn Bridge and High Line which are both free to walk. The 9/11 memorial is free but surrounding museums and observatories have an entrance fee. If looking to do the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Centre, or Statue of Liberty; consider paying extra, booking online early and selecting skip the line or premium passes. It sees you bypass a 2 hour queue and gain immediate access.

Transport around the city is easy and cheap on the subway and there are multiple hop on hop off bus options if wanting to stay above ground. So take the whole family there is something to make a runacation to New York City enjoyable for everyone.

The expo located at the Javits Centre Hudson yards is a short subway journey from Times Square. It is massive but highly organised. It’s here that you pick up numbers for both the 5km Dash and the marathon. All documentation emailed to you must be presented along with photo identification. Included in your entry is a finisher T-shirt which you can try on for size before collecting your brand new one. Once through formalities, it’s sensory overload in the merchandise store which leads through to an exhibition hall to peruse the many running related pop-up shops.

The 5km Dash on the Saturday includes a special Abbott Dash Beanie given out at number collection and begins outside the United Nations Building at 0845. Athletes need to be in corrals by 0820 and following the American National Anthem the event commences with elites and then waves of runners start at regular intervals. The course goes straight through Midtown Manhattan, up 6th Avenue and into Central Park following the tree lined winding path to the marathon finishing shoot adorned with flags from all countries of the world. Each finisher receives a goody bag containing various munchies and refreshments.

Wandering back through Central Park afterwards is beautiful at that time of day, with many dogs being walked, and squirrels busy gathering acorns or receiving expensive organic almonds handed out by a random Tasmanian woman.

For pre marathon pasta, go to Little Italy. Just around the corner from Canal Street Subway there are a multitude of Italian restaurants to choose from with many catering for dietary requirements.

Marathon Sunday starts early. Now one of the questions mentioned earlier that you need to answer and submit is your transport option. For those staying in Midtown or upper Manhattan there is a Midtown Manhattan bus that leaves outside the library on 5th Avenue. There are hundreds of buses. Pick ups start at 0530 and you select a preferred time which is printed on your bib. However you do ultimately end up in a queue lasting between 30 minutes to an hour. The journey takes 90 mins and drops you at the start. The other option is the Staten Island Ferry and shuttle. The ferry operates from lower Manhattan and a shuttle will take you to the start village from the Staten Island ferry terminal. Getting to the ferry is your responsibility.

Once at the start, you will have with you a clear plastic bag that is in your assigned number pack you collected at the expo and appropriate wrist bands. The type of bag will be dependent on whether you selected a post race poncho at the finish or opted to gear check. Gear check will have a sticker attached with your name and bib number and gets checked at the start at the designated zones according to your group and wave. For those who opted for the poncho. That bag is a start village bag, it will not be accepted for bag check and you are permitted to take food, drink, warm attire etc which is all discarded. Charities collect the clothing and huge bins within the corrals are available for athletes to dispose of unwanted attire. Bins collect the rubbish including the start village bags.

Upon entering the start village all athletes are scanned and bags searched similar to airport security. No gels or packs are to be on any person at that time, it must all be in the clear plastic bag. The start has very tight security with additional personnel on top of buildings.

Commencing on the Verrazzano Bridge on Staten Island to the sound of a large canon firing, confetti and a formation of helicopters the undulating course (that’s right, it’s not flat), winds through Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Manhattan covering all five boroughs. Hydration was available every 2-3km in the form of water and Gatorade at every station. Cut fruit was also offered three times during the course and gels once. In the final 10km, Biofreeze had a side shoot runners could enter to have cramping muscles sprayed.

Bands were positioned at regular intervals along the course offering entertainment and apart from the larger bridges, the course was lined heavily with spectators. This can be noisy at times which may or may not always be welcome.

The final three km is run within Central Park and finished along a path lined with flags. Crossing the line sees athletes presented with medals, photo opportunity, emergency blanket, and goody bag. Continuing to follow the path, runners are separated according to their selection on post race poncho or gear drop.

Selecting the poncho sees athletes take a left turn and out of the park, receiving a brilliant high quality poncho and down to family reunion; while those that checked gear take a right and depending on your number and seeding can see you walk several km right to the other end of the park to get your gear and exit the park.
Long and the short of it, take the poncho!

Marathon Monday sees merchandise available for purchase in a large marquee in Central Park and medal engraving for USD25 is also available. The festivities start at 0700 but the queue is huge and for engraving and athletes can be waiting up to 2 hours or more. However; Apple engraving a small shop located between 6th and 7th Avenue at 120W 58th Street can engrave it for you for USD20 and there is no line!

Runners walk around the city following the race and on the Monday proudly wearing medals, and the local folk are genuinely pleased for runners offering congratulations.

The TCS New York Marathon is a fabulous event and one that I personally can not fault. It is definitely my favorite to date. Great city, great organization, and great spirit that is embraced by all New Yorkers.


Event profile: Bonnie Davies


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