The NYC Half Marathon was never on my bucket list. I was always aiming for the full one, but never made the ballot. So when I got invited to New York City for a ball, and saw that the Half Marathon was the same weekend, I had to do it.
Update: I ran the Half Marathon in 2017 on the old Manhattan course. In 2018 the course was changed so that the start is now in Brooklyn.
It was quite a hassle to get a spot with a tour operator, but in the end it worked out fine. Until… … a snowstorm came along! The day before my departure all my flights got cancelled and I was not sure if I could go. Luckily my flight was fine the next day, and I even got an upgrade because of overbooking. NYC however was covered in snow. My training run in Central Park seemed closer to ice skating than running. But the weather was great with lots of sunshine, and I enjoyed my time there.
I even booked a five class introduction package at Body&Pole, which is THE best pole studio in NYC. Fast forward to race day: I had not gotten a lot of sleep, as I spontaneously had the chance to see my favorite opera at the met the night before. But I managed to get through my pre-race routine in less time and make it to the starting area. I was dressed in a ridiculous outfit due to the incredible cold. And that’s where I made the biggest mistakes if the race: I went into my starting corral way too early. By the time we started I was way too cold and really had to use the porta-potties.
I was shivering the first 3km, and then I had to take a quick bathroom break. The rest of the race went absolutely smoothly, except for two selfie stops: one on Times Square and one with One World Trade Center. I managed to finish in 1:57:00, not too far off from my Half Marathon PB two weeks earlier. Would I recommend this race? Definitely yes! Running through Times Square was absolutely AMAZING!!!
Travel & Accessibility
I will not go into detail on how to get to NYC. Most people should be able to figure that out. But how to get to the start area of the NYC Half marathon is a bit more tricky. You have to enter through the south side of Central Park, because that is where the security check points and bag drop facilities are. I took the subway to Columbus Circle, which was absolutely fine. The security checks take a while, and you are not allowed to bring anything with you. Backpacks, rucksacks and hydration vests are forbidden. You then have to walk up north to your actual starting corral, which takes around 10 minutes. Getting back home from the finish area was also easy. You just have to continue walking and will come to Fulton Street Station, where you have Subway access.
Pre-Race & Bib Pick-Up
Bib Pick up was easy and everything went smoothly. The expo was not very big. It basically consisted of a New Balance stall, one United stall and one other stall. They had a big board with all the registered runners, which of course was a good foto opportunity.
NYC Half Marathon race course
The NYC Half Marathon course starts in Central Park and then heads up north, doing a weird loop and then back through Central Park towards the South. It crosses Times Square (it is the only race to do so) and then turns right towards the river. It then runs along the river towards One World Trade Center, goes through the Battery Park Tunnel and finishes close to Wallstreet.
NYC Half Marathon Finish Area
Everything in the finish area was absolutely perfect. You get your medal, a blanket and a pre packed bag with food and drinks. You can have pictures taken, collect your bag and can get changed. No waiting whatsoever, everything runs very smoothly. And then you exit the finish area and get the best view on One World Trade Center possible!
I would have to write at least a dozen of blogposts to cover NYC sightseeing appropriately. There is just too much to see and do. I personally just went to see the Statue of Liberty and explored Brooklyn that weekend.
Do you want to run a Marathon yourself? Check out my blog post on the best Marathon gear, pacing strategy and tips for your first Marathon.