You already know New York City as one of the world’s forerunners in finance, fashion, media, and entertainment, but did you know that NYC also set the precedent for marathons world wide? The first New York City marathon was held in 1970 with only 137 participants, but by the late ‘70s, nearly 10,000 athletes were running the course each year—and another few thousand stood on the sidelines to watch and cheer.
These days, the ING New York City Marathon attracts more than 100,000 applicants annually, as well as nearly two million excited spectators—not to mention the additional 315 million viewers that tune into the marathon on their televisions worldwide. This year, the Marathon will be held on Sunday, November 4th. On top of the race itself, New York Road Runners and the ING New York City Marathon are hosting a variety of world-class events leading up to and following the race. It’s one of the top New York City attractions, a weekend-long celebration, and you’re invited to be a part of it.
Schedule of Events
The NYRR International Taste of Travel
Friday, November 2, 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Billing itself as the race where “the world comes to run,” its only fitting that the Marathon’s reception be an international affair. Come experience the culture and flavor of Indonesia and the Cayman Islands at this year’s International Taste of Travel event. The free reception includes complimentary food, drinks, entertainment, and raffle prizes—but you must RSVP before the event fills up!
Marathon Opening Ceremony
Friday, November 2, 5:30 – 7:00 pm
Each year in Central Park, this spectacular event officially kicks off Marathon Weekend with a celebration of diversity and athleticism. Delegates from over 75 countries will take part in the notorious Parade of Nations, pro athletes will show up for the festivities, live entertainment will be provided by New York Event Sound and Drum Café, and finally the ceremony will conclude with a magnificent display of fireworks presented by Poland Springs.
Marathon Health & Fitness Expo
Thursday, November 2 through Saturday, November 4
The free-admission Health & Fitness Expo is open to the general public for three days, giving friends and family the chance to shop for Marathon gear and souvenirs, sample products, and receive health and medical advice. Over 100 vendors and exhibitors from around the world will be offering their goods and services, deepening the diversity of the occasion. New this year, the ING New York City Marathon Theater will be showcasing the 26.2-mile course in a filmed 360° panoramic style that shows the journey from a runner’s viewpoint, which will be shown for free multiple times daily at the expo. The expo is open 10 am – 8 pm on Thursday and Friday and 9 am – 5 pm on Saturday.
Marathon Eve Dinner
Saturday, November 3, 4 pm – 8 pm
The evening before the big day, runners and spectators alike are invited to join the Marathon Eve Dinner for a night of carb-centric NYC cuisine in the Marathon Pavilion. For $30/person, you’ll prep for the big day (hey, cheering is hard work, too) by filling your belly, enjoying free entertainment, and sneaking a preview of the world’s most famous finish line.
Sunday, November 4
When race day finally arrives, everyone’s ready for action. The first wave starts at 8:30 am and the final wave heads out at 10:55 am—so expect a full day of marathon-style excitement. Though everyone loves watching the professional runners race to beat world records, watching the amateurs push through in their toughest moments is what keeps the crowds lined up all along the 26.2-mile course.
8:00 am – Wheelchair Division Men
8:35 am – Wheelchair Divison Women
8:45 am – Footlocker Five Borough Challenge
8:55 am – Handcycle Category, AAWD, and slower wheelchairs & handcyclers
9:10 am – Professional Women
9: 40 am – Wave 1: Professional Men, Sub-Elite M & W, Local Competitive M & W
10:05 am – Wave 2
10:30 am – Wave 3
10:55 am – Wave 4
More than 130 bands and entertainment zones will be set up along the course to entertain both the runners and the fans. Spectator cheering zones will feature sign-making supplies, fun giveaways, and DJs. You can take a look at the course map to get a feel for where you’d like to watch the race.
Foot Locker Five Borough Challenge
Keep a look out for the five runners in the Foot Locker Five Borough Challenge. Although each runner comes from a different borough, they all share one thing in common: they’ve drawn inspiration from running in order to face significant challenges in their lives. Read their stories, and then watch as the team runs the first 13.1 miles of the marathon together, then individually race to the finish to gain the title of Foot Locker Five Borough Challenge Champion.
Monday, November 5, 7:00 am – 2 pm
The excitement doesn’t end when race day is over. On Marathon Monday, head to the Marathon Pavilion by the finish line in Central Park to relive the race, mingle with runners, friends, and family members, and shop for limited edition official merchandise.
New York City Attractions for Marathon Spectators
While in “The Big Apple” for Marathon Weekend, make the most of your time in the entertainment capital of the world. With our New York City Explorer Pass race to see how many world-class attractions you van visit in one day—the more you see, the more you’ll save, as you’ll have unlimited access to all of our attractions for one low price. So head to the top of the Empire State Building for an aerial view of the course, browse one of the city’s many famous museums, or sit back and relax as you take a cruise out to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.