A Guide to the New York Marathon

One of the key events that marathon runners look forward to is the New York Marathon. This annual marathon is held every year on the first Sunday of November. It is the largest marathon in the entire world spanning 26.2 miles or 42.2 km.

Organized by the New York Runners, the annual marathon is scheduled to be held this year on the 6th of November. If you are planning to take part in the marathon, then you need to know all about it. To help you, we have a guide that gives you a comprehensive overview of this marathon.

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The New York Marathon: A Guide

a) The History

The New York Marathon started in 1970 with the first event held on September 30th. New York Road Runners (NYRR) was the organization that was behind the marathon. Gary Muhrcke was the winner of the first event. Interestingly, it was meant to be a one-off run. The success of the event made the organizer convert it into an annual event.

From 1976, the race was moved to October. In 1986, it was moved to November. The marathon has been conducted every year except for two years. Hurricane Sandy led to the cancellation of the marathon in 2012. In 2020, it was canceled because of COVID-19.

Since 2013, the marathon is being sponsored by the IT major TCS (Tata Consultancy Services). It is now named TCS New York City Marathon.

b) The Course

The course in the first marathon comprised repeated runs around Central Park. In 1976, a major change was made. It was decided that the marathon would cover all five boroughs of New York City.

The marathon starts from Staten Island. It then moves to Brooklyn through Sunset Bridge and Williamsburg. The route then takes the runners to Queens from where it enters Manhattan. The route then goes to the Bronx before returning to Central Park. The run finishes beside Tavern on the Green.

The route covers hills, bridges, and flat pavements. The approximate total number of steps to be covered is 50,000. The run usually starts at 10:10 am and the total time limit set is eight and a half hours.

There are 3 different routes for the run. But the total distance covered is the same and all the runners will converge at Lafayette Avenue. The three routes are color coded as green, orange, and blue. Runners are assigned to different corrals and waves. Each start has five waves and each wave has six corrals.

c) Participation

If you want to participate in the event, then the following information will be of interest.

The organizers have a drawing during the spring. Approximately, 14,000 to 20,000 runners apply and around a fourth of them are selected. There are three pools for the drawing. They are:

  • International residents.
  • US residents who live within 60 miles of NYC.
  • All other US residents.

The entry fee can vary from $200 to $340 depending on the drawing pool.

If you are keen to run and don’t want to wait for the drawing, you can enter through a charity. There are 400 listed charities and if you raise money for them, you can get a confirmed participation.

A certain category of individuals is guaranteed entry to the event. They are:

  • Athletes who have qualified based on race times in full or half marathons organized by NYRR.
  • Those who have completed 15 or more New York City marathons.
  • Members of NYRR who have completed NYRR races and made a donation of $1,000 or have volunteered for at least one event in the past year.
  • People availing of the marathon travel package offered by international tour operators can also get a guaranteed entry.

d) Interesting trivia

  • The first person with a prosthetic leg to finish the run was Dick Traum in 1976.
  • Grete Waltz or Norway has won the women’s division 9 times, which is a record.
  • There are on average 2 million spectators who line up on the course to cheer the runners.
  • Fred Lebow is the founder of the marathon.
  • The 1978 marathon was won by Bill Rodgers who notched up 3 consecutive wins, a record.
  • The first Britisher to win the marathon was Steve Jones in 1988.
  • Ibrahim Hussain of Kenya was the first African to win the marathon in 1987.
  • A wheelchair division was introduced in 2000.
  • From 2001, prize money was given to the winners.
  • From 2003, a title sponsor began to be named for the event. ING was the first title sponsor.
  • The 2019 marathon had 53,600 finishers, making it the largest marathon ever.