Well HELLO New York!!!!
The New York City Marathon was and will always be that one marathon you remember for life. This was my bucket list race, as NYC is where my running journey began three years ago.
I traveled to New York on Friday, a short drive from Ohio, checked into my hotel which happened to be just footsteps from the Queensboro Bridge and then headed directly to the Expo.
The Expo: Massive is a word that perfectly describes it. The expo is held in the Javetis Center and is open to the public. Bib pickup was fairly simple, as long as you had a photo ID and your race confirmation sheet. If you did not have the confirmation sheet there was an area to print these off. I think I had my bib within 5 minutes from arriving at the expo. Next stop was race shirt pick up. They did have an area for you to try on a sample shirt for size selection, but no thank you way too many germs. The Expo had quite a few vendors, areas for runners to take pre pictures, and a huge New Balance store with TCS NYC Marathon gear. Overall I felt that the expo was spacious enough, easy to navigate, and not overly crowded. It was a great place to meet up with other BibRavePro’s who were running as well.
Swag: Race shirt - just your average long sleeved race shirt. I actually thought the material would be better quality, however when you have to appeal to the masses it’s a hard thing to do.
Race Management: For hosting over 53,000 runners I have to say NYRR nailed it. Yes there probably are things that could be improved, however if those areas were changed it wouldn’t be the NYC marathon vibe and feel. Registration was easy! There are four ways to receive entry: lottery, time qualifier, charity, or the 9 + 1 option. Communication was often leading up to the race and picked up to daily the final week. Transportation to the race was challenging, I opted for the Staten Island Ferry, which required a subway ride from Queens to the Staten Island Ferry, a boat ride to Staten Island, then a bus ride to Fort Wadsworth which hosts the start village. This is important - MAKE SURE YOU GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME!
The Course: As mentioned you start the race on Staten Island. The race village is pretty awesome as there are runners everywhere and it almost has that Woodstock vibe. More than enough port-a-toilets for the 53,000 runners that I don’t think I waited more than 5-10 minutes. At the village they have free breakfast consisting of bagels, bananas, coffee, water, protein bars and Gatorade energy gels. Fuel up before the race. For those who selected bag check over the poncho, bag check was done here. UPS would shuttle your items to the finish line.
For me the course was absolutely amazing. There were four waves separated by corral and color. You start the race on the Verrazano Bridge so as you can expect your 1st Mile is a gradual incline to the highest point in the course. Great views of downtown New York. The 2nd Mile was straight downhill so controlling your pace was even more crucial. For the next 8 miles you traversed the streets of Brooklyn and let me tell you oh the crowds. Wow the energy was amazing. Aid station every mile consisting of Gatorade endurance drink followed by water. Soon you entered Queens for 2 miles before heading back in Manhattan over the Queensboro Bridge. Take it easy over this bridge as you tend to forget your 15 miles in. As you exit the bridge you will be welcomed by some of the craziest crowds I’ve ever seen. The remainder of the race felt like rolling hills all the way to the finish. Crossing into The Bronx had me looking for the lady with the “This is the last damn bridge” sign. From there I knew it was straight up 5th Avenue to Central Park! A route I’ve run many times. The scenery along the course was great and allowed runners to experience each of the five Burroughs. The only time I had peace and quiet were those bridges!
The finish was probably where I would like to see change. After running 26.2 miles, the last thing I want to do is have to walk another mile to obtain my checked baggage. It took me a good 30 minutes to have a few pictures taken, pick up my post race snacks and checked baggage then finally exit Central Park. Luckily each runner was given a heat shield because it was a little cool walking through the shaded areas of Central Park.
On a closing note this was by far my most memorable marathon. Should you run this race??? Hell yeah and if you don’t I’ll take your lottery entry because I know I want to do it again!!!!