There is something awesome about cheering for a marathon, and the New York City Marathon is (IMHO) the best marathon in the world. The first time I ever cheered for the NYC marathon I was so inspired that something uncharacteristically-athletic stirred inside me and said, “I want to do that!” Katie and I (Sirrah) ran it last year and a ton of our friends came out to support us, so this year it was our turn!
As you may know, Sunday November 2nd, was wicked cold (high of 48˚) and super windy (one of our friends reported feeling like she was going to be blown off the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge!), but if it wasn’t going to stop the runners than it wasn’t going to stop us. We had friends running and walking at a range of paces, so we had to be prepared for a full day of cheering.
Our cheering essentials:
– Since we were planning to run with our friends at times, we had to dress warm but light. The key to this for me is layers. I wore my running tights with long socks to cover my ankles. On top: short sleeve tech, long sleeve tech, running jacket, fleece vest, nylon gator, fleece headband, and gloves.
– Hand warmers! Cause my fingers get sooooo chilly!
– Small backpack. I have a little Camelback that has a front clasp so it doesn’t move too much. If you’re not planning on being out all day, I’d skip the backpack since the race security would prefer you not bring bags.
– Water and nutrition! I brought Honey Stinger waffles because they are like delicious little cookies.
– Treats for the runners! My favorite thing to get when I’m running is Swedish Fish, so that’s what I brought. Some of my other friends brought Kleenex where they were cheering which is a great idea particularly at a cold race.
– Cow bell!
First stop was the Queensboro Bridge (Queens side) at around 10:15am, to watch the hand-cyclists, wheel chairs, and elites and a few super-fast friends.
The entrance to the bridge is the perfect place to stand if, like me, you live in Queens and want to cheer in both Queens and Manhattan. It is not a good place to stand if you want to jump in with your friends as the cops are pretty strict about staying behind the barriers, but the crowds aren’t too crazy here, so it’s easy to find a viewing spot. It was here that we saw a kid holding one our favorite signs of the day.
(I love a fart joke!)
I love the elite runners, because they are just effortless and amazing, but my favorite people to cheer for are the ordinary humans who are getting tired by the time they get to miles 14+ and may actually need a crazy stranger to yell their name and tell them they look sexy! While we looked for our friends we also spent the day yelling our faces off at anyone who had their name or country on their shirt. Pro tip: cheer from your diaphragm so you don’t get light headed and pass out. Yeah we were cheering that hard.
Second stop: 116th and First Avenue. We used the TCS NYC Marathon app to track our runners, and it was probably the best tracking app I’ve used at a race – particularly because it was free! We were standing just before mile 19 and would get an update on the app when the runners hit 30K, so we’d know to start looking for them, which was very nice, since looking for a single runner in the middle of a marathon can make you feel all kinds of loopy. Up by 116th, the cops are more spread out, and while they come by once in awhile to make sure you aren’t crowding the course, they don’t say anything if you jump in with your marathoner for a few blocks. (That being said, use your judgment if you’re going to try to run with someone and make sure you aren’t in anyone else’s way!) We caught almost all of the friends we planned to see here at Mile 19.
Third stop: 118th and Fifth Avenue. We walked across town while our friends were running through the Bronx and Harlem and met them back on Fifth Avenue. We couldn’t catch all of our friends twice, because some were too fast for us, but this First and Fifth Ave. combo is definitely the best way to get to see your runners twice at places where they need some crowd support. On Fifth, we were also able to jump in and run with folks and hopefully between Katie’s enthusiasm and my bags of candy, we were able to take a few people’s minds off of that stupid Fifth Avenue incline.
While we were on Fifth Ave, I got a text from one of our friends, who was run/walking, saying that she was struggling a little. According to the App she hadn’t crossed 30K yet, so Katie and I ran across the city, spilling Swedish Fish all over East Harlem, and made it in time to meet up with her around mile 19 at about 4pm. The race organizers had started to clean up the course and the crowds were thinning out, but our friend was in good spirits and determined to finish the race.
We walked with her from mile 19 to just before mile 26 at the entrance to the park at Columbus Circle where we left her to cross the finish line. At around 6:30pm Katie and I left the marathon. On the way home I did my last bit of “cheering” for the day: congratulating the ponchoed, medal adorned marathoner slowly making her way down the subway steps.