2015 was the first time I've run the TCS New York City Marathon. Going into the race I had heard two things over and over, that the crowds are great and that the course is difficult. Both proved to be correct.
Marathon weekend started by going to the Expo which reminded me very much like the other Major Marathon Expos. Getting your number proved to be a pretty easy task, even on Saturday morning when I went. After grabbing your number you pick up your shirt. Different then most you were not locked into a shirt size when signing up. There were designated areas where a person was holding many sizes of the free shirt to try and determine what size was right for you. The shirt had a cool design although I thought the asics shirt material isn't as nice as Adidas's for the Boston or London marathon.
Getting the race was a fairly intense process. I stayed in midtown manhattan and had to take the subway to the ferry at the south edge of manhattan, ferry to Staten Island, and a bus from the Staten Island Ferry to the athletes village. All in all it took about 2 hours. I look the 6:15 ferry (even though I was assigned to the 5:45) and got through the travel process without too much delay. I had a friend take the 6:30 ferry and had to deal with significantly more travel delays. Seems like 6:15 is the sweet spot before lines and bus times get too long.
Starting on the Verrazano Bridge provides one of the greatest race start views imaginable. Overlooking Manhattan from this perspective is amazing, one of the most memorable moments of the race. Maybe thats because thats the best you feel all race...
Brooklyn has great crowd support for the majority of the borough. There are rolling hills but they pretty much even out with the up and downhill. The Queensborough Bridge hits hard with the uphill at mile 15-16. The bridge leads to Manhattan where the crowds a massive and provide a much needed boost. Running up 1st Ave. and down 5th Ave provides an incredible tour view of Manhattan.
Finally, finishing in Central Park is the perfect way to end this iconic race. The grandstands are full with people cheering you through the end.
After finishing they provide great finisher medals as well as a drawstring backpack with gatorade, water, energy bars...This is the second race I've been apart of that give you a bag filled with all the food and drink that is typically handed to you. This seems like the biggest no brainer for any race. It keeps things moving at the end and makes it much easier to have all the nutrition necessary after finishing. The worst part about the end is the walk to get your checked bag and out of central park. The walk is about a mile, it can be shorter if you choose not to check a bag but not by that much. Its a slow walk to get your bag but the entire route is full of "spotters" making sure you're ok and willing to help.
Overall I was very impressed with this race. It was everything I expected from the biggest marathon in the world in one of the biggest cities in the world. Highly recommend this race to anyone. For the size I thought it was very well run and provided a great experience for its participants as well as spectators. It is a race I definitely plan on coming back to in the future.