2023 New York City Marathon
The countdown to the world’s biggest race has begun.
The first Sunday in November is a special day each year for New Yorkers: that’s when around 50,000 runners and two million spectators from all around the world converge to participate or watch the world’s largest endurance race: the New York City Marathon.
The first marathon in “the Big Apple” was arranged by the New York Road Runners (still one of the official organizers of the race) on September 13, 1970 in Central Park. The entry fee at the time was just one dollar and 55 of the 127 registered competitors made it all the way to the finish line. Today, it’s the largest marathon in the world, with 47,839 participants from 131 different countries competing last year.
The marathon that’s on nearly everyone’s bucket list
While nearly 50,000 participants may sound like a lot, it’s actually not that easy to get a spot on the starting line. International runners must either be selected via an official lottery or run on behalf of a charity while native New Yorkers need to have competed in at least nine qualifiers over the course of the year and have served as a volunteer at another race. The final option, if you want that precious marathon invitation, whether you’re an international or a local participant, is to meet the official time requirements.
If you locked down a spot by lucking out on the lottery or turning on the afterburners during your qualification runs, the real fun begins the Sunday before the big event, with organized warm-up runs, festivities, and discounts at number of local restaurants. Keep up with everything on the official website of the New York City Marathon.
Visiting New York City during the race
The 42-kilometer-long race winds through all five of the boroughs, starting on Staten Island and continuing through Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, before concluding at the finish line in Manhattan. While the traffic in “the Big Apple” is always congested, the weekend of the marathon, it’s bumper-to-bumper. Due to barriers all across the city at this time of year, it’s advisable to plan your travel route carefully – and make sure you leave in plenty of time.
Do you need to book accommodations? We list the best hotels in New York here.
The best places to watch the event
Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn (Miles 2–4)
Watch the runners as they exit the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and make their way down Fourth Avenue. Subway: R
Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Miles 10–13)
Stake out a spot along streets filled with shops and restaurants and cheer on the runners as they head toward Pulaski Bridge and cross over into Queens. Subway: G, L, M, and J
Pulaski Bridge (Mile 13.1)
Although Pulaski Bridge, which connects Brooklyn with Queens, is closed to spectators, a number of fans congregate on the Queens side, just after the halfway mark. Subway: 7, G, and E
First Avenue, Manhattan (Miles 16–18)
In this exciting part of the course, spectators stand and cheer on the sidewalks. The numerous bars and restaurants on this thoroughfare contribute to the festive atmosphere. Subway: N, Q, R, 4, 5, 6, and F
Central Park (Miles 23–26.2)
This is the place to be if you want to watch the runners finish the 26.2 mile-long race in one of the most famous parks in the world. There are plenty of vantage points along the park’s roads, but be prepared for huge, lively crowds. Subway: A, B, C, D, and 1
New York City Marathon
2023 date: November 5, 2023
Participants: 47,839 (2022)
Number of countries represented: 131 (2022)
Starting point: Staten Island
Finish line: Manhattan
Distance: 26.219 miles (42.195 km)
Best time, men: 2:05:06 by Geoffrey Mutai, Kenya
Best time, women: 2:22:31 by Mary Keitany, Kenya