Our New York marathon race review is based on Mogsy's personal experience of running in this event in 2007, plus updates from last years event. It's a hilly course, going over several bridges, making it one of the more challenging marathon courses.
Of course, the New York marathon is one of the great World Marathons, and has a place on most marathon runners "bucket list". It's just one of those races that you want tick off, and the finisher's medal will be one of the prominent medals in your collection!
Because it's one of the oldest marathons around (it started in 1970), and one of the most famous, it's also one of the biggest in terms of the number of runners. In 2018 there were 52,800 finishers. That's over fifty thousand runners.
The entry procedure is a little complex. There are several ways you can enter. According to the official New York Marathon website, there are the following options;
Entry fees are not cheap.
What do you get for your money?
First of all, obviously, is entry to the race, including your race number and timing chip. You also get a commemorative T-shirt, a bag to use at the bag-check, free entry to the pre-race Expo, and that all-important finisher's medal.
One of the things Mogsy bought at the Expo was a glass that she is still using today. It's proved more useful than the various t-shirts we've bought at other Expo's!
New York is one place that's generally easy to get to. You can travel by plane, train, coach, or drive. When Mogsy did the race, she flew direct from London Heathrow to JFK airport. Job done! It's a very accessible city to get to from almost anywhere in the world.
As a big city, there are LOTS of options for accommodation while you are in the Big Apple. There are literally hundreds of motels and hotels, so finding something that suits your budget should not be too hard.
ONE TIP in our New York Marathon race review: The race start is early, and you have to be on Staten Island hours beforehand, so maybe look for accommodation with good connection to the Staten Island ferry.
The course starts on Staten Island, and immediately takes you over your first bridge. The route continues through all 5 New York boroughs, and finishes in Central Park.
To get to the start area, you need to get to Staten Island. Depending on where you are staying overnight, this usually involves getting the Staten Island ferry. Alternatively there are special buses laid on that you can catch. You have to be in the start area several hours before the guns goes, and it's usually COLD, so be sure to take several layers of clothing, some you can put into your check bag to collect later,and the last layer you keep on until the last minute and then dump at the road side. These clothes will be collected and donated to worthwhile causes.
Mogsy's memories of the Start!
"I was staying with my 2 daughters in a very small, dark hotel (but very cheap!) and remember having to leave at 2.30 am - the girls just grunted 'good luck'! I walked to the nearest bus pick up point and got talking to another runner on the way. She'd done other marathons and was aiming for a Boston time, and was very impressed this was my first and had come all the way from the UK!
We got to Statten Island and it was FREEZING! People were sleeping in sleeping bags and all huddled together to keep warm. There was free coffee and bagels which went down well. We all piled onto the bridge and I kept my pre-race warm clothes on till the last minute. One highlight was the playing of New York New York when the gun went off and we all ran across the bridge to the music playing.
There are 2 starts as the bridge has an upper and lower level - be careful on the lower level as men who haven't relieved themselves before have been know to pee over the bridge!!!! :) :) This was in 2007 - it may be different now!!"
The highest point of the course is just inside the first mile, as you go Verrazano Bridge. You get great views of New York harbor and the city skyline, including the Statue of Liberty.Miles 3 to 15
take you through Brooklyn and Queens. Some runners let the excitement get to them, and they tend to run a little quicker than they should at this stage, which may hurt your final time. Remember to pace yourself well up to mile 13!
Then you come to Queensboro Bridge, which can feel a bit of an effort if you have gone out too fast in the first 13 miles. Once over Queensboro Bridge, you turn right in First Avenue. Miles 16 to 20 are along First Avenue, and there is a lot of support from spectators. This is a good time to gradually step up your pace slightly if you are looking for a good finishing time.
The last bridge is at Madison Avenue, and then you are into the last 6 miles, initially down Fifth Avenue. Then you come to gently rolling hills of Central Park for the last 3miles, which need a bit of energy in reserve to tackle!
Just after the Mile 25 sign there are 2 right turns and you are at the finish.
Mogsy's Memories of the Race
" I remember the 5 bridges being VERY long! Some probably a mile long but felt longer. When you go through the Jewish quarter there were lots of men in their black hats and suits, sat in a row on wooden chairs drinking cups of tea and watching. The Bronx was a bit scary but you're not running through that for very long - you just touch a corner of it and it does make you run faster!
This was my first marathon and I hadn't really read up enough on how many gels to have and other nutrition - I know better now and would advise newcomers to do research beforehand. At one point I stopped in a portaloo not only for a wee but to sit down and have a rest!!!
There are a lot of serious runners in the New York Marathon - it's not like the London Marathon full of charity and fun runners. I was actually running in memory of my little nephew Howard Kensit who had cerebral palsy and had sadly passed away when he was 6. I had a picture of him on my back and did get lots of encouragement from other runners but I didn't see many other charity runners. I raised a lot of money for the charity 'Cerebral Palsy Sport' in the UK.
I must add the public support is amazing through most of the course - as in London there are a few bleak areas. The last 3 miles in Central Park are amazing - I seemed to get a second wind then and played the Foofighters 'The Pretender' on repeat to get me to the end. My daughters and 2 friends were near the finish cheering me past and handing out chocolate muffins to runners and spectators!
I do remember it being a bit of a hike to get your medal and goody bag and the lady who gave me my medal made a point of saying my fellow countrywoman had won the race - Paula Radcliffe! At the time I just wanted to sit on a kerb and not have to run anymore!!! But now I can say that I have raced with Paula :) "
As you might expect, there is a great atmosphere at the New York marathon, especially the second half after you get on to First Avenue. The locals and visitors alike line the streets and cheer the runners along, offering encouragement every step of the way.
The finish area.
You're in Central Park! A huge area for all the runners, it didn't feel crowded or too busy.
Organization was very good with the different options to get to the start at the early time and plenty of water, Gatorade and refreshments along the way.
To sum up our New York Marathon race review - 10 stars! It's one of the most famous marathons in the world, alongside London, Berlin, Paris, Boston and Athens Classic. It has everything. The only small negative is the early start time, but that can be said of many city marathons.