Make sure you have a strategy in place for all five boroughs before you cross the starting line on Staten Island.
It’s time to familiarize yourself with the course if you plan to start the race on the Verrazano Bridge this year. The New York City Marathon is unique in that it travels through all five boroughs of the city, including Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Manhattan. This allows runners to experience a variety of areas and fans plenty of space to applaud. And the 2021 event promises to be a celebration after COVID-19 forced the NYC Marathon to be canceled last year.
Despite the fact that New York is located on the coast, the road is far from flat. The event will put your strength and endurance to the test because of the steep hills on Fifth Avenue and the long, grueling climbs up bridges. Fortunately, you’ll have enthusiastic fans cheering you on at every turn.
Here, we outline exactly everything you need to prepare for this World Marathon Major by borough. (If you’re looking for the course map, click here for the New York Road Runners’ official route.)
Staten Island (1-2)
The New York City Marathon’s starting line is distinct from that of all other marathons. Early on Sunday morning, the runners arrive at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island and check into their chosen starting village (this is listed on your bib number). The wheelchair race begins at 8 a.m., so be sure to give yourself plenty of time before that. and the last wave of runners leaves at 12 p.m. to use the restroom, locate your corral, and eat any pre race food.
Staten Island won’t be a place you stay very long. You will either cross the upper level or lower level of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge when the race begins. Both levels provide spectacular views of the New York Harbor and skyline, including the Statue of Liberty. Keep your pace during this two-mile section; it’s simple to get carried away. In the early stages of your race, pushing yourself too hard could be detrimental.
The first mile involves a steep ascent up the bridge, while the second mile is a descent that leads to Brooklyn. You might think about taking off whatever throwaway gear you had on at the beginning at the foot of the bridge because it will be much less chilly and windy there.
Brooklyn (Miles 3-12)
The relatively level streets of Brooklyn should make the ensuing 11 kilometers feel steady and slick. Enjoy the neighborhood in the borough as you settle into your pace, from the chic eateries in Park Slope to the lovely tree-lined avenues on Lafayette Avenue to the buzzing throng in Williamsburg.
Here, keep in mind to unwind. On the low grade, it’s simple to get caught up in the crowd’s excitement; preserve your legs for the upcoming hills. This is a fantastic way to eat those first few gels or chews you have hidden in your pocket. Remain loose and attentive, and keep your fueling strategy in mind.
Queens (Miles 13-15)
Prepare for the Queensboro Bridge at mile 14, which comes after you pass the 13.1 mile marker. Even though the vantage point provides stunning views, the climb over the bridge is challenging—especially considering that it occurs exactly halfway through the race. It can be difficult to concentrate on this length of road without any onlookers. Here, concentrate on keeping your pace, and make sure to run on the designated racing carpet because the bridge’s actual surface is prickly.
Make the most of the peace and quiet during this period. Over these miles, think back on your journey up until this point, draw strength from the friends and family who are waiting for you at the finish line and at home, and take in the sights of the city.
Manhattan, Part 1 (Miles 16-18)
The peace and quiet give way to a throng of onlookers as you cross the Queensboro Bridge and enter Manhattan. On this flat, broad, three-mile stretch, if you’re feeling good, consider accelerating a little bit (within reason) and let the booming cheers of encouragement carry you through the distance. Since they will have plenty of time to travel back to Central Park for your finish, this is a fantastic place to have your guests watch from the sidelines.
The Bronx (Miles 19-20)
As you go into The Bronx, you’ll see that the throngs on First Avenue have diminished. Turning your focus to refueling and hydration at this time is an excellent idea. They’ll be necessary for you to surpass the 20-mile mark. You may even use a slogan to inspire yourself at this point, such “You can do it! Watch out for the bands and dancers at the Entertainment Zone near 139th and Morris Avenue, or “Strong mind, strong body.”
Manhattan, Part 2 (Miles 21-26.2)
There is no way to sugarcoat the fact that the marathon’s last 10K will be painful. But the race’s final stretch, which involves leaving the Bronx, jogging down Fifth Avenue, and turning into Central Park, is worthwhile.
You’ll run through a brief part of Harlem before heading up Fifth Avenue (be aware that it’s hilly), arriving at the northern boundary of Central Park about mile 23. The following mile is pretty level; take use of this to recover from weariness and regain energy before the last mile. But be ready for a challenging last section. Around mile 24, there are a few rolling hills inside Central Park that are no joke. Pay attention to your stride and rely on the roar of the crowd and the music from the finish line to get you through.
You will soon leave the park as you reach mile 25 and be encircled by the roaring people on 59th street close to Columbus Circle. Let their applause spur you on as you make the right turn back into the park and up the final hill. Kick it home with all of your might!