16 Reasons to Get Excited for the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon


Calling all 2019 TCS New York City Marathoners. We are 16 weeks away from race day and we want you to be excited about the next four months and the journey ahead.  

Here are 16 reasons to get excited—along with some details explaining why members of our digital content team are looking forward to race weekend.  

The Start

There’s an incredible feeling of energy and joyful anticipation when standing on the starting line.

As an NYRR staff member running the race last year I felt such gratitude and admiration for the operational planning that I knew had gone into making the start possible, as well as for the team back in 1976 that dared to create the opportunity for 2,000 runners to cross the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, and every staffer and volunteer that’s been part of the start operations since then.

Queensboro Bridge

This part of the race fills me with energy and intense emotion. The entire race showcases so many reasons that NYC is one of the greatest cities on earth—the diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, the amazing topography, the parks—but the points where the course crosses water call to mind NYC’s history and ongoing role as a maritime city.

On the Queensboro Bridge, you can truly appreciate that New York has one of the world’s most stunning natural deep-water harbors. In addition, a lot of the city’s infrastructure is visible from this bridge—besides the Queens-Manhattan link that you’re on, you can see bridges linking Bronx-Manhattan, Queens-Bronx, Queens-Brooklyn, and Brooklyn-Manhattan. It’s incredible, and last year it filled me with gratitude for the visionary city planners who saw NYC as one metropolis and made that vision a reality.


Harlem/Central Park

The race can become a suffer-fest in miles 22-23 as fatigue accumulates in the legs and then is intensified by the hill on 5th Avenue from 107th Street to 90th Street. But the pain is mitigated by the incredibly strong support from the sidelines.

It seemed to me that many of the spectators here were seasoned veterans—they seemed to know just what to say to encourage without condescension or falsehood (no “Almost there!” from this group!). The architecture of this part of Harlem is stunning, as is the beauty of Marcus Garvey Park and the views of Central Park—finally!

The Finish

Of course this is the BEST part of the race. I was completely unprepared for the outpouring of emotion I experienced in the final quarter-mile and as I crossed the finish line in 2018. It was unlike anything I’ve felt in my 34 years of running marathons. Words don’t begin to capture the intensity of the moment, and even now, nearly a year later, I get goose-bumps when I think about it.

Gordon Bakoulis, editorial director


Cheer Zones 

Past participants of the TCS New York City Marathon will tell you there is nothing quite like New York City on race day. The decibel levels are legendary, and one of the major reasons for this is the cheer zones along the 26.2-mile route.  

The hype is real. Once you enter Brooklyn, it’s raucous. Thinking about wearing headphones? Don’t bother, as you won’t hear your music above the roars of the crowd on Fourth Avenue. It doesn’t stop there as cheer zones in Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx provide that extra bit of energy to help you cross the famous line in Central Park.  

Parade of Nations at the TCS New York City Marathon Opening Ceremony Presented by United Airlines 

The Parade of Nations is comprised of runners from all the countries represented in the TCS New York City Marathon. It’s a chance for people to meet athletes from their country and other countries, form new friendships, and fly their national colors—live on television. The parade is followed by a spectacular fireworks display and is the perfect kickoff o marathon weekend.  

If you ever wanted to feel like an Olympian parading with the flag of your country at a major sporting event, this is the closest you can get.  

Transformation of Central Park and All of NYC for Race Week 

If you are a New York City resident and you’re running the marathon, there is something magical about the transformation of the city—especially Central Park—in the days leading up to the race.  

For those people running the last 10 miles the Saturday or Sunday before the marathon, that final long training run becomes extra special when you see the marathon route banners hanging from the light poles in the Bronx, and the bleachers arriving beside Tavern on the Green. Being in the park where you’ve logged many, many summer miles gives you goosebumps. After 12-20 weeks of training, you know that race day is within touching distance. 


Number Pickup 

You know you’ve made it when you arrive at the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon Expo Presented by New Balance to pick up your race number. It’s the first big step you will take on what is truly an unforgettable weekend. Runners—this is what you’ll be doing in less than 16 weeks. Allow the moment to soak in. You’ve done all the training. This is your time to enjoy yourself before you race 26.2 miles through the five boroughs.  

Gary McLaughlin, senior manager, digital content

Five-Act Play

The course is like a five-act play, with the bridges serving as "act breaks." 

All of the anticipation and the build-up that leads to the sensational start on Staten Island in "Act I" (which Gordon covered in more detail above/below), and then crossing the Verrazzano for a change of scenery into Brooklyn for Act II.

And then the Pulaski to Queens for Act III, a long, quiet pause along the Queensboro before Manhattan, and First Avenue, and the Willis Avenue Bridge into the Bronx making it an emotionally investing Act IV, and then, finally, the Madison Avenue Bridge for that turn back into Manhattan and the big finish in Central Park. 

(I admit, it's a bit of an extended metaphor, but just work with us here, folks.) 


The Calm Before the Storm

Walking through parts of the course before the race starts, taking it all in, and then comparing that scene to once the race is underway. 

For the past three years, my race-day role has been centered around the finish-line area, so I arrive in Central Park hours before anyone has crossed that finish line. But that means that I get to experience the "calm before the storm"—like seeing Central Park West completely closed to traffic, hours before tens of thousands of runners in blue ponchos hobble back toward Columbus Circle.

I see the staff at NYRR putting the finishing touches on the finish line area, before there’s eight-plus hours of runners reaching that 26.2-mile mark they've been dreaming of. It's nice to take in that moment early in the day—the quiet, the open space—and then compare it hours later to the cheers, the music, the masses, and the excitement as tens of thousands of runners push toward Tavern on the Green. 


It's a Race

There are no pacesetters for the professional athlete races*, so there's so much more of an element of surprise as to who will win in any given year. It's not always the runner with the fastest PR that wins, and because there's no pre-set time that they'll be running for the first 10K or the first half, the pro runners and wheelchair athletes have to be more strategic earlier on. They have to look at the course layout and figure out how they can use their strengths to compete for the highest placing possible. 

*However, for the main field, there's always the NYRR Pace Team Presented by Biofreeze to guide runners to a goal time.

Week-Long Celebration

It's not just a one-day event. The TCS New York City Marathon is really a week-long celebration of running, beginning with the Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff (a race near and dear to my heart). It continues during the week with the TCS Run with Champions, events at the NYRR RUNCENTER and at the TCS New York City Marathon Pavilion, and the Marathon Opening Ceremony and Parade of Nations. Then, finally, there's the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K before the main event on Sunday.

For some runners, the Marathon is the culmination of a potentially 23-month-long effort, from qualifying through the 9+1 program the year prior to training for the race itself, so NYRR wants to make the lead-up to the grand finale—and, of course, the Marathon event itself—as memorable as possible for runners, and to show them that the work was all worthwhile.

Ted Doyle, manager, digital content


Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K 

The Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K takes place the day before the marathon. For those runners not participating in the marathon, this race gives them the opportunity to cross the famed TCS New York City Marathon finish line. For marathoners, it can be a fun final shakeout run at an easy pace. 

Marathon Sunday 

New York City has millions of people with millions of unique stories. On marathon Sunday, millions come together as one to cheer on complete strangers in an awe-inspiring display of solidarity and the very best of the human spirit. 

Our Best Day 

For NYRR staff, the marathon is the most exciting day of the year. Yes, it’s a marathon effort to stage the race, but working the event is very special. It’s a unifying experience for all of us at NYRR, and it is a privilege to be a part of it. 

Medals Everywhere

Whether it is post-race on Sunday or on medal Monday, the sight of thousands of the finishers out in the city with their medals is truly inspiring. 

Katie Manzi, web content coordinator

What are you most looking forward to about the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon. Tell us on social media using #nycmarathon

NYRR Staff