The New York City Marathon is iconic. It is one of the most challenging, yet popular marathons in the world.

As a beginner, you need to have several vital things prepared months before race day… such as your training plan, your nutrition and hydration strategies, and your understanding of the route.

Get ready to take on a marathon you’re never going to forget!

In this article, we’re going to cover…

  1. Training for the NYC Marathon
  2. The NYC Marathon route
  3. The NYC Marathon Expo
  4. Nutrition and Hydration for The NYC Marathon 
  5. Gear for Running the NYC Marathon
  6. Spectators Guide To The NYC Marathon
  7. Tips for Running the NYC Marathon
  8. Recovery after Running the NYC Marathon

Let’s begin!

Training For The New York City Marathon

The length of time it takes to prepare for the NYC Marathon depends on an individual’s running background and experience.

If you’ve got no running experience but have set this goal for yourself, fantastic! We’ve put together a specific couch to NYC Marathon guide just for you. You can find it here.

For runners with some experience or loads of experience, the table below depicts the weekly training hours based on your level of experience and your NYC marathon race goal.

Level Of ExperienceRace GoalAmount Of Training Weeks RequiredAverage Weekly Training HoursTraining Program
Little to none.Finisher0 to 5km = 12 weeks 5 to 10km = 12 weeks 10 to 21km = 12 weeks 21 to 42 km = 12 weeks total: 48 Weeks6:31Couch To NYC Marathon
Have at a minimum completed a 21 km distance in a race or training in the last 4 – 6 months, preferably close to 2:20. Finisher12 Weeks6:31Finisher Marathon Plan 
If you have completed 21.1km recently & you can get close to these times:– 10km: 61 min21km: 2:13Marathon: 4hrs45Sub 4:30 hour12 Weeks6:21Sub 4:30 hour Marathon Plan
Have run 10km recently & are close to these times:– 5km: sub-25– 10 km: 51min– 21km: Sub 1:55-Marathon: 4hrs12Sub 4 hour12 Weeks6:54Sub-4-hour Marathon Plan
Has achieved the below set times:5km: 24min10km: 49min21km: 1hr50Marathon: 3hrs45Sub 3:30 hour12 Weeks6:08Sub 3:30 hour Marathon Plan
Capable of running one of the below times AND have been following at least a 5-day-a-week regime in the recent past.– 5km: 18:3010km: 38:3015km: 59:3021km: 1:25:3042km: 3:05-3:10Sub 3 hour12 Weeks8:45Sub-3-hour Marathon Plan

The first place to start is with your training, without success at this step, your dream of completing the NYC Marathon will become unachievable.

Experienced runners who have been training should start their training at the latest 12 weeks before race day.

Once you’ve got your training plan sorted, it’s important to look at ways you can enter the NYC Marathon… usually, this is quite a challenge.

Now that we know how long your training is going to take, let’s have a look at the NYC Marathon route…

The NYC Marathon Route Description

The New York Marathon route is extremely well known for its challenging hills through the city’s most iconic landmarks and beautiful suburbs.

The Start Of The New York City Marathon: Staten Island (Mile 1/1.6km)…

On Sunday the first Sunday in November each year, the New York Marathon will begin on Staten Island, Fort Wadsworth on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. 

As the race kicks off runners will have a gorgeous view of the New York City skyline, harbor, and of course the Statue of Liberty.

Runners will arrive early in the morning and check into their designated start villages, which will be listed on their race numbers.

Depending on which corral you’re in your race could start any time between 8 am and 12 pm.

The first mile is almost entirely uphill and the second mile is downhill as you head off the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge into the second part of the race… Brooklyn.

If you’ve never run New York Marathon before, prepare to be amazed by the crowd support which starts from here and doesn’t seem to die down from here onwards

Brooklyn On The New York City Marathon Route…

The next 11 miles/ 18 km of the New York City Marathon is quite flat and heads through Brooklyn’s diverse neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bedford-Stuyvesant, offering runners the perfect view of the energetic spectators and vibrant street culture.

With this section being quite flat, it’s easy to get caught up in the lively race atmosphere, we recommend remembering your pacing and fueling strategy here… there are hills ahead of you.

Queens On The NYC Marathon Route…

At 13.1 miles/ 21.1km runners will cross the Pulaski Bridge reaching halfway! Running in Long Island City, Queens for the next 2 miles.

At mile 14/22.5km runners will cross the scenic but difficult and very steep Queensboro Bridge. From miles 16 to 18, runners cross one of the most difficult points in the New York City Marathon… the climb up Queensboro bridge.

This is the first point at which there has been no crowd support since Brooklyn. It’s also the point at which many runners experience what is commonly known as “the wall” in marathons. So this can be quite a tough part of the route hearing only runners’ feet pounding on the bridge in silence. But then…. 

First Section Of Manhattan On The NYC Marathon…

You do a 90-degree turn off the Queensboro bridge and onto 1st Avenue in Manhattan. You will know that this is 1st Avenue in Manhattan as you are greeted with the noise of a crowd as if you are the New York Yankees who have just won a world series and are doing an open bus tour!

The difficulty is eased by the energetic, vibrant crowds that await you as you reach First Avenue. This is a good spot to meet up with your family or friends that are seconding you as they will still have time to make it to the finish line and you might be looking for some words of encouragement at this point.

The Bronx: NYC Marathon Route…

Runners will be reaching the 20 mile/32km marker at this point just before crossing back into Manhattan, although the spectator crowds die down in this section there are usually bands and dancers cheering you on here, which is equally as encouraging as you are nearing the end of your race

2nd Manhattan Section Along The NYC Marathon…

Runners will begin to run uphill on Fifth Avenue towards the northern edge of the famous Central Park at mile 23/ 37 km.

At this point, the thousands of spectators will be cheering like crazy and you will find that last wave of energy!

Preparations should be made for the last stretch now as the next mile is flat and a good place to prepare for the last tough bit of the race.

The End Of The NYC Marathon…

Mile 24,25 and 26.2 takes runners through the unforgettable heart of central park before crossing the finish line at the Tavern on the Green.

The crowds will be so loud you won’t even be able to hear yourself think! Mile 25/40km takes you near Columbus Circle and over the very last hill of the race and onto the last stretch.

This hill can knock you slightly as you feel so close yet so far, so just mentally prepare yourself for it. Knowing once you are over that hill … you are on your way to finishing one of the most iconic marathons in the world. The finish line is in sight! 

Grab your NYC Marathon GPX file here!

The New York City Marathon Expo is one of the top 10 health and fitness expos in the whole world… your experience will be significantly better if you follow a plan…

The NYC Marathon Expo 

The most important thing to know about the NYC Marathon expo as a beginner runner is that this is where those competing in the marathon need to collect their race materials, and must bring photo ID and their runner confirmation form with them.

Runners will receive their confirmation forms by mid-October, these contain their start wave, start color, and corral, as well as bag-check and transportation allocations. 

To find out the best ways to get to the Expo as well as tips for surviving the sometimes overwhelming NYC marathon expo, we’ve put together a guide here.

It is vital that runners who plan to take part in the New York City Marathon experiment with their fueling options during their training so that they know what works best for their bodies come race day.

This leads us to the next section…

Nutrition & Hydration For The NYC Marathon 

Based on information gathered from the previous few years of the New York City Marathon there are water tables located every mile from mile 3/ 4.8km, all the way to mile 25/ 40km.

Mile 12 & 18/ 19km & 28km will offer Science in Sport Energy Gels. You’ll be able to spot these in advance by watching out for signage along the route. 

At Mile 21 & 23/ 34km & 37km, you will be able to find bananas and other snacks like crackers.

Failing to prepare an adequate hydration strategy and nutrition strategy before the New York City Marathon can lead to unwanted consequences.

That’s why we’ve put together a detailed New York City Marathon: Water Stations & Fuel Options article.

One thing beginner runners aren’t sure about is what gear they are and are not allowed to bring to the NYC Marathon…

Gear For Running The New York City Marathon

What You’re Not Allowed To Bring To The New York City Marathon

  • Any container that holds more than 1 liter
  • Blankets
  • Camelbaks
  • Backpacks
  • Vests with multiple pockets
  • Selfie sticks

See the full list here.

What you are allowed to bring to the New York City Marathon

  • Shirts, pants/shorts, and outer layers
  • Anti-chafing products
  • Tissues
  • Band-Aids
  • Pain relievers
  • Lip balm
  • Running shoes & socks
  • Bib number
  • Timing chip
  • Race entry information 
  • Running watch/ heart rate monitor
  • Race food and drinks
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Wind jacket

Standing on the sidelines and cheering on the thousands of runners passing along the route is considered as exciting as being one of the contestants! If anything it’s inspiring to see people push beyond their limits and comfort zones…

Spectators Guide To The NYC Marathon

Spectator SpotPosition Along RouteTransport To The Spot
92nd Street & Gowanus ExpresswayMile 2/ 3.2kmBus: B37, B63, B8, S79-SBSSubway: Line 4 or 6Train: R
Lafayette Avenue throughout Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Mile 9/ 14kmTrain: G train to either Fulton Street, Clinton-Washington Avenues, or Classon Avenue.Train: C train to Lafayette Avenue. or Clinton-Washington Avenues.
Vernon Blvd & Jackson Avenue in QueensMile 14/ 22.5kmTrain: Jackson Avenue Station Subway: 7, G, E
First Avenue between 90th and 110th streets Mile 16/ 26kmTrain: Take the Q or 6 trains to 96th Street and walk east to First Avenue.
138th Street in the BronxMile 20/32kmTrain: Take the 6 train to Third Avenue–138th Street or the 4 or 5 train to 138th Street–Grand Concourse.
Fifth Avenue between East 120th Street and East 110th StreetMile 22/35kmTrain: Take the A, B, C, or D train to 125th Street or the 1 train to 125th Street.
The finish line – 59th Street and Fifth Avenue or Columbus Circle26.2 miles/42kmTrain: The N or R train to Fifth Avenue, or A, B, C, D, or 1 trains to Columbus Circle

Now that we know the best spectator spots along the New York City Marathon route, let’s have a look at what makes them so special and what you can expect to find at each of them…in this article.

Tips For Running The NYC Marathon As A Beginner

  • Nothing new on race day! If you buy any equipment (gear or nutrition) at the running show… DO NOT use it on race day.
  • Download the New York City Marathon app to help with organization. 
  • Know exactly where you’re starting and know exactly how to get there with time to spare. (Where you start will have been determined in advance.)
  • Plan your route to & from the race meticulously. (Public transport becomes a nightmare on race day)
  • Keep an eye out for the blue line on the road. (It marks the most direct race line for the event, and is the accurately measured distance for the marathon.)
  • Trust your training and enjoy the day out! It’s an extremely special event to be a part of so be sure to soak it all up!

Recovery After Running The NYC Marathon

After completing a marathon, it’s important to give your body the proper rest and recovery it needs to avoid injury and bounce back quickly. 

Whether you’re a seasoned marathon runner or just starting out, this video has everything you need to know about post-marathon training and recovery.

The New York City Marathon is undoubtedly one of the best marathons to run. If this is your first time, strap in because this experience is going to be life-changing!

Preparing for and completing the NYC Marathon for the first time can be a daunting challenge. Besides the training process, you will be running with over 50 000 people and experience the insane energy from the crowds on the sidelines. 

No matter how many times you have gone over all your strategies and what you need to do in your head… there are aspects of the NYC Marathon that for a first-timer are hard to prepare for.

That’s why we highly recommend following our New York City Marathon Roadmap.


Devlin Eyden has a passion for seeing his athletes grow and excel. From novice runners or cyclists across all disciplines to elite mountain bikers representing South Africa at World Championships. In addition to helping you ride faster, for longer, Devlin also has the personal touch when it comes to your bike setup, aiming at improving the overall rider experience. With his background as a Sport Scientist as well as a Strength & Conditioning specialist, performance is Devlin’s main priority, be it in the gym, the lab or out on the road or trails. Being a keen runner & cyclist and having completed the Cape Epic among others, Devlin has first hand experience in what it take to reach your goals. If you’re looking for a once-off training program or ongoing, high touch support Devlin has you covered.

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