More than 50,000 runners and a many as three million spectators turn NYC into a giant sporting event and street fair on Sun., Nov. 5th for the 2022 NYC Marathon.
Here are tips to watching and cheering the athletes along the five-borough 26.2 mile route.
My vote for the top spot is where the the runners enter Central Park for the final surge to the finish line. That spot is Fifth Avenue at 110th Street, also known as the Duke Ellington Circle.
Expect the elite women to enter Central Park at around 11:30 a.m., and the elite men around noon, followed by everybody else.
The Duke Ellington Circle is at the 22 mile marker of the 26.2 mile race, so it’s a great spot to cheer the runners, many of whom are clearly exhausted by that time and need your cheers to encourage them to the finish line.
There’s usually a jazz band there – after all, the Duke Ellington Circle is named for one of the most famous and beloved musicians in US history.
As exciting as it is to be at the finish line, it is a chaotic and crowded scene. Besides, the runners need encouragement all along the route, not just at the finish line.
If you do want to be at the finish line, go late, after the crowds and the TV cameras have packed up their gear and gone home.
Runners who take six hours or more to finish need encouragement even more than the elite record-breakers.
Tips for Watching the NYC Marathon
Download the TCS New York City Marathon app to track runners and stay up to date on news.
It’s a great map, complete with the NYC subway stops to get you to your viewing and cheering location of choice, in Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx or Manhattan, plus information on street, highway and bridge closures.
Take the subway.
- Do not drive, do not take a taxi or car service because of the number of street closures.
- You may have to walk a few blocks from the nearest subway stop, but that’s far better than being stuck in traffic for 30 minutes or more and miss seeing the runners.
Know that there are four start times.
- They are staggered between 9:40AM and 11:00AM, so make sure you are aware of the time your runner will start the marathon.
Identify the runner or runners you are following
- If you are following a specific runner or group, know what your runner(s) plans to wear, so you can spot them on the course.
Check the weather forecast.
- Wear layers and comfortable shoes.
Make restaurant reservations.
- If you want to eat along the route, know that locally-owned cafes and restaurants can get super busy on Marathon Day, which is also Sunday Brunch day.
- Check back for restaurant recommendations along the route.
Don’t stop cheering.
- All runners—not just yours—need and appreciate your encouragement.
- Look at shirts and race bibs and greet them by name, number, or country.
Observe the barricades
- Stay behind the blue tape or barricades and leave the roadway open for runners.
Make signs, bring flags, and cheer.
- Leave the amp at home. Unofficial use of speakers is not permitted in New York City.
Stick to the streets.
- Spectators are not allowed on any of the bridges on the course.
- Do not obstruct access to buildings or leave trash or signs behind.
- Portable toilets are for registered runners only, not for onlookers, so plan accordingly.
- Restaurant bathrooms are for patrons only – another reason to make a restaurant reservation.
NYC Marathon Finish Line, Central Park
The race finishes at 67th Street on West Drive. Spectators can access the final approach to the finish in two ways:
Tickets are required. Enter at West 66th Street and Columbus Avenue with your Grandstand tickets.
- Subway: 1 to 66th is closest; alternatives are 1, A,B,C,D to 59th St./Columbus Circle or 2 to 72nd St.
Standing Spectator Area:
Located inside Central Park from Columbus Circle to the south end of the grandstands, approximately 500 feet before the finish. NYPD, NYRR, and the NYC Parks Department may limit access at times, based on capacity. No chairs or seats are provided or allowed.
There is no spectator access north of the grandstands in Central Park.
Spectators can enter at the following areas: Broadway at West 61st Street or West 62nd Street, or from the east side via the Central Park path by Heckscher Fields – Kickball Field #3.
All entrances require screening.
- Subway: 1, A, B, C, D to 59th St./Columbus Circle
The NYC Marathon is included in my NYC guidebook, because it’s one of the 100 things to do in my hometown.
This article was published originally on my NYC on the Cheap website, which was hacked, held for ransom and destroyed by the hackers in Feb. 2022. Beware of imitators.
Information has been updated for the 2023 race, including restaurants.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is a journalist with 20+ years of experience as a newspaper and magazine writer, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and author of guidebooks and smartphone apps – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter currently serves as President of the International Motor Press Assn. (IMPA), a former Board Member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and a current member of the North American Travel Journalists Assn. (NATJA).
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright (C) Evelyn Kanter