WRITTEN BY JULIA O’BRIEN
Registrations for the 2017 New York Marathon ballot are now open. Whether or not you’ve run – or event contemplated running – a marathon, as the world’s most iconic foot race, this is something you should consider adding to your New York bucket list.
Running a marathon is no mean feat. At 26.2 miles (or 42 km for those of us still working on the metric system) it’s an ambitious distance for even seasoned runners. Of all the annual events in New York, however, few come close to the atmosphere and sense of personal achievement delivered by the city’s marathon. Whether you’ve just arrived in New York, or you’ve been here for years, the marathon is unlike anything else you’ll do here and totally worth the pain. Need more convincing? Here’s why:
1. Gain a new perspective on New York
The route passes through all five boroughs, which in its own right is pretty cool. And let’s face it, it’s probably the only time you’ll venture out to Staten Island. But what’s really special is that as a marathoner you get to cross bridges and run along streets that would normally be off limits to pedestrians. The view looking out to Manhattan from the Verrazano Bridge is unrivaled, while the perspective you gain of the East River from the 59th Street Bridge makes the 2 mile ascent (almost) worth it. Not to mention running up 1st and down 5th Avenues, two iconic streets where for only one day of the year there are no taxis, no buses, just you and your fellow runners owning the roads.
2. Feel like a rock star
Around 50,000 people take part in the New York Marathon each year. Even more impressive, 1 million people come out to spectate and cheer on the runners. For most people, this is the closest experience you’ll have to feeling like a professional sports star. Those in the know write their name on their running top, which ensures the crowd cheers you on by name and makes you feel even more special, particularly in those final miles in Central Park when the crowd carries you. You also get a sense of each borough’s personality by how they choose to support the runners. Whether it’s the hipsters in Brooklyn with their witty signs with political undertones, or the international flavour of the bands and performers in Queens, each neighborhood brings a little something different representing the cultural melting pot that is New York.
3. Get fit like never before
We’d be lying if we told you that preparing for a marathon isn’t a big commitment. But that’s actually one of the great positives, because come race day you will likely be fitter than you ever have been in your life! If done correctly, training for a marathon is a gradual process, slowly building up your cardio fitness and stamina through a mix of running, strength training and stretching. There are some excellent training programs designed to help people who’ve never even run a half marathon make it through the full race, such as the New York Road Runners Virtual Trainer. And for those new to the city, it’s a great way to meet new people through the many running groups and fitness clubs dedicated to helping people prepare.
4. Do something for the community
One of the biggest hurdles people face is how to actually get a spot in the race in the first place. As the most iconic marathon in the world, nabbing one of the 50,000 race bibs can be tricky, with only 20,000 allocated to 80,000 entrants in the ballot. Another option is to run for a charity. This involves raising a set amount of money in return for your place, and in most cases involves extra perks such as running kit, start and finish tents, and exclusive access to race week events. Not to mention some currency in the karma bank! You’d be surprised how generous people are willing to be knowing that you’re going to run a marathon and you’ll find you’ve reached your target in no time.
If you’re inspired to run the New York Marathon, make sure you put your name in the 2017 ballot before entries close on February 17 or visit the official website to see other ways of guaranteeing your place.
At the very least, it’ll be a great story to tell your friends and family back home in Australia!