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

The 26.2-mile NYC race starts in Staten Island and turns north through the famous neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens. It then goes through the Upper East Side, across Queensboro Bridge, into the Upper West Side with a brief time in the Bronx to head back through Manhattan and to cross the finish line in the iconic Central Park.

Let’s dive deeper into the New York City Marathon route and what you can expect at each mile…

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

On 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 is 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 Manhatten 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 Manhatten, 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! 

Crowds are going wild and the road is laced with flags from around the world. It will be one of the most memorable moments of your life! Well, it was for me anyways. 

Grab your New York City Marathon training plan here!

NYC Marathon Course Map With Streets

New York City Marathon Elevation Charts (In Miles & Kilometers)

Use these NYC Marathon elevation charts to create your perfect race strategy by understanding when you should run at specific paces according to the elevation to reach your NYC Marathon time goal.

NYC Marathon Google Maps Link

Use the map to zoom in and get a feel for the roads you’ll be running on come race day…

NYC Marathon GPX File

Having a GPX file for the NYC Marathon can be extremely helpful on race day.

The New York City Marathon GPX file can be extremely helpful in planning your New York marathon. You can upload it to a platform like Google Maps so that you can interact with the map prior to race day. You can also upload it to your fitness watch so that you can use it on race day.

Tips for Conquering The New York City Marathon Route 

  1. Remember your “why” as you run the route, especially on the hard parts. 
  2. Study the route well beforehand so that you’re not surprised by twists, turns, and hills.
  3. As the race starts you’re going to get a rush of excitement…Don’t start too fast. Remember, the first mile is completely uphill and you’re going to have to weave through the crowds… try to preserve your energy and follow your pacing plan.
  4. Know exactly where your supporters are going to be, there are going to be A LOT of spectators and it may be hard to keep an eye out the entire time looking for your family or friends.
  5. During the race, take note of where you are. This could come in handy in moments of hitting the wall, knowing what lies ahead will counteract the feeling of wanting to give up.
  6. Embrace the memorable moments and have fun! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and at the end of the day you put yourself in that situation… so enjoy it and take it all in!

If you, some friends, or family are not taking part in the race but would love to support along the sidelines… We’ve put together a guide to the Best New York City Marathon Spectator Spots.


Shona is the former Head of Sport Science at the High-Performance Centre, University of Pretoria. She returned from Madrid, Spain, in 2013 where she completed her MBA in Sport Management with Universidad Europea de Madrid (Real Madrid FC). Shona’s current work and interest lies in endurance sport (running/triathlon) conditioning and sport science working with elite ultra-endurance athletes such as Caroline Wostmann (2015 Comrades & 2Oceans winner). Aside from football strength & conditioning, Shona’s other passion and expertise lies in endurance sport (running/triathlon) as well as Women in Sport. She has competed in 4 Half IronMan distance events and three 2Oceans Ultramarathons herself. She has also worked with other elite female athletes such as London 2012 bronze medallist in canoeing, Bridgitte Hartley.

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