Counting Down to Race Day with Style


Countdown images, by design, are intended to be used for one day before they’re cast aside. They tell runners that they have 100 days, or 7, or 3, or 2, or 1 day until race day, and then they sit in the social media feed, continuously bumped down by every new post that follows.

But this year, New York Road Runners’ creative team produced animated countdown images to get people excited for the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon, and we wanted to give them a space to live on for runners to enjoy, whether it’s three days ‘til race day (like it is today) or three weeks after race day (when your legs might finally be fully recovered).

The images layer hand-drawn designs—featuring items from the TCS New York City Marathon Sticker Pack—over photographs from previous years of the race, celebrating finishers from the past while inspiring finishers of the future.


“The creative team is truly inspired by the gorgeous photography of our runners, created by our photo team. It’s pure pleasure for us (a bunch of visually oriented people) to express the energy that we feel flowing from the runners in these hand-drawn photo treatments,” said Mary Beth Kilkelly, NYRR’s director of creative and marketing services.


To show how the work came together, here’s a time-lapse video capturing each step Thomas Cabus, senior designer at NYRR, took to create the countdown image for four days to go:


…along with the finished product:


“Our aim is to share the feeling of excitement, delight, and creative innovation that moves through NYC on race day, and everyday,” explained Kilkelly. For more, view our playlist of time-lapse videos showing the countdown images in progress.

And if you’re feeling like channeling your inner graphic designer, we’ve got some good news: The TCS New York City Marathon App Powered by Tata Consultancy Services gives you the power to create Cheer Cards Presented by Biofreeze, where you can come up with your own custom designs using these quintessential pieces of NYC culture.

Take a photo, add text and items from the Sticker Pack—your call on whether you’d like to use a headband-wearing pigeon, a hot dog doing sit-ups, or a “Cheers!” from Lady Liberty herself—and tag a friend who’s running in the race, and you’re good to go. Here’s one example of what you can come up with, if you need a little inspiration:


Once you’re finished, you can share your Cheer Cards on social media, and on race day, your runner could see it when they’re out on the course! Digital screens at Mile 20 and Mile 23 will be displaying Cheer Cards all throughout race day, and a few lucky designs might just make it into the live broadcast on WABC-TV, Channel 7 and ESPN2.

Be on the lookout for more countdown images to come, and get excited for the final countdown to the five boroughs on Sunday!


Ted Doyle