NEW YORK CITY — You might not have put in the months of grueling training, but there’s still time to gear up for this weekend’s New York City Marathon — as a spectating pro.
And don’t sell yourself short — the constant cheering from the crowd is actually a big part of the race for the tens of thousands of runners winding 26.2 miles through the city Sunday.
Check Out Our Recommended Viewing Spots Along the Marathon Route
“It’s definitely a motivational boost to hear people calling out your name, cheering you on,” said Meghan Berry, 33, of Park Slope who’ll be running her second NYC marathon on Sunday.
“And it’s really helpful to have friends and family along the route and know where they’ll be — it gives you something to mark the race, helps to keep you pushing ahead.”
With advice from participants and race organizers the New York Road Runners, DNAinfo has put together some tips for where to watch and how best to cheer on your running friends, family — and the nearly 50,000 other racers hitting the streets for what’s said to be the world’s largest marathon.
If you’re hoping to cheer on a marathon running loved one, planning is key. There’s 26.2 miles of road, so talk with your runner before the race about exactly where you’ll be waiting. If you want to spot each other, give an exact location, like the northwest corner of 85th Street and First Avenue. A vague location, like saying you’ll be somewhere on First Avenue in the 80s, won’t cut it when there's a sea of thousands of runners.
Coordinate the timing with your runner — they’ve been training, so they have a pretty good idea of when they’ll hit a certain mile. There’s a tracking app that you can download but the timing isn’t always perfect — though it can give you general idea of where your runner is along the course
Don’t forget to ask your runner where they’d like you to go. Runners said it can be a “motivational boost” to have familiar faces, especially further along in the race and in less crowd-filled spots, like at around mile 20 in the Bronx.
If you’re planning on hopping around to multiple locations, have a plan set out with close subways or biking routes — you don’t want to waste time scrambling to figure out where you’re going on race day.
Some Recommended Spectating Spots
► Mile 8, near the Brooklyn Academy of Music, has become a perennial favorite. Bishop Loughlin High School’s band drums up some enthusiastic tunes for passing runners, creating a fun atmosphere for the crowds. Located just off of Atlantic Avenue, it’s also a convenient location for subways if you want to head into Manhattan for your next location.
► Runners are in Long Island City from about mile 13 to 16. Meet your runner near the Pulaski Bridge to cheer them on through the half-way point before they run over the 59 street bridge into Manhattan at mile 16.
► One of the most lively viewing areas comes between miles 16 and 18, on First Avenue, from East 59th to East 96th Streets. It’s pretty crowded, but you’ll find lots of very enthusiastic onlookers, live music — and you can hop into one of the many bars along First Avenue to toast your athlete's achievement.
► Runners said one of the toughest stretches, where’re they’re perhaps most likely to “hit the wall,” is at Mile 20 in the Bronx, near 138th Street and Madison Avenue. Racers said crowds aren’t usually as big here, so it’s a great place to really cheer on a friend.
► If you want to head near the finish, runners are making the last push as they head down Central Park South, and pass mile 26 around Columbus Circle before they make their way into Central Park for the finish.
Check out our map for a look at the route, that moves from its start on the Verrazano Bridge in Staten Island through Brooklyn, up to Queens, across to Manhattan, north to the Bronx and back down through Manhattan.
Be a Real Cheerleader
Make brightly colored signs, clap and call out the names of runners — who often identify themselves on their shirts — even if they’re not the person you’re waiting to cheer on. The NYRR advises picking supportive phrases to call out, but stay away from “You’re almost done” — it doesn’t feel that way when each step is hurting.
The Finish Line is Not an Ideal Meet-Up Spot
Runners said trying to meet them very close to the finish line is generally a bad idea. Pick a nearby spot in advance where you can meet your running champion. And come with things they want — snacks, warm clothes, a hot chocolate — find out what your runner wants after that incredibly grueling achievement.
For more information about the Nov. 2 race, head to the NYRR website.