A Spectator's Guide to the New York City Marathon

Fast runners and fall leaves at the NYC Marathon
Fast runners and fall leaves at the NYC Marathon Kathryn via Flickr
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So you're not running the NYC Marathon this year? No problem: you can still have a fun day of running or riding around the city on November 1st, and get inspired by watching some of the racers on course while you do it! Whether you have friends or family racing and you want to make sure you can see them on course or you just want to be part of the excitement and spirit of the marathon, we've got you covered.

Since the Marathon route takes passes through all five boroughs and some of the coolest places in the city, take advantage of the day when thousands of runners are going long—26.2 miles long—and do the same, but at your own pace and with your own version of 'long.'

Runners passing by mile 23 at the NYC Marathon (Tom Thai via Flickr)
Runners passing by mile 23 at the NYC Marathon (Tom Thai via Flickr) Tom Thai

Bike or Run in and around Central Park
Central Park in the fall is classic: the trees are turning bold colors, people are out enjoying the park, and, on NYC Marathon day, the park is filled to the brim with runners spectators and plenty of crowd control. Running and riding here on any weekend day is crowded, but this weekend gives new meaning to the word. If you love a celebratory atmosphere though, go check it out and join in the fray. Get to the park early for your run, and plan to end near the finish line in time to cheer on the marathon runners. If you want to see the winners, aim to get there around 11:30, since the elite women start at 9:20 in the morning, with elite men going off at 9:50.

If you're a cyclist, consider enjoying a quiet ride over the George Washington Bridge and into Nyack before coming back into the city and ending in Central Park to cheer on runners, or for a more relaxed pace ride, pedal along the waterfront on the Hudson River Greenway before braving the crowds at the park.

NYC Marathon (Valentina Powers via Flickr)
NYC Marathon (Valentina Powers via Flickr) Valentina Powers

Run Around Roosevelt Island
The race route passes across Roosevelt Island, meaning you can cheer for the racers and also get in your own 3.5-mile loop or two in relative peace.  The path skirts the island's edge for an eye-candy mix of skyline views, water and race action. You'll have to briefly join the runners to head back across the bridge and into the city.

Spectators cheering for an elite female runner at the NYC Marathon
Spectators cheering for an elite female runner at the NYC Marathon Sagie via Flickr

Run or Ride in Brooklyn

The marathon route passes the harbors in Brooklyn, from Williamsburg to Queens, so enjoy some of the best that the area has to offer. If you're on the bike, stop by the Red Lantern Bike Shop and Cafefor coffee or brunch with buddies before cheering on some runners (possibly after a mountain biking jaunt in the coolest spot in Queens: Cunningham Park trail system).

If you're running, consider a run around Brooklyn Bridge Park before ending for breakfast at The Diner in Williamsburg. So hip, so tasty. Get the blueberry pancakes, and a mimosa--this is brunch on the weekend, enjoy it! Then go out and cheer on more runners, or do another couple laps to work off those aforementioned pancakes.

At the end of the day, you should feel like a rock star due to your awesome city tour and workout. And know that your cheering and support made the Marathon experience all the more meaningful for the racers. Who knows, maybe next year is your year to run it!

 

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