Where to Watch the NYC Marathon

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By Ketrin Agustine

Where to Watch the NYC Marathon

It has become the city’s biggest block party. Here are the best spots in each borough to cheer for the race’s 50,000 runners.

The New York City Marathon is a big race for more than 50,000 runners each year, but it is also a community celebration for the New Yorkers who line up along the five-borough course to cheer for the participants.

Chris Tempro, a retired New York firefighter, had prepared for the crowds before he ran the marathon in 2021, including writing his name on his shirt so everybody could see it. But the energy and the excitement along the course was beyond anything he had imagined.

“As I came down off of the Verrazano Bridge, and into Brooklyn,” Tempro said, he encountered an “incredible party atmosphere, with like thousands and thousands of people cheering and chanting and then calling my name, like for the whole eight miles, nine miles, through Brooklyn.”

When the weather, like 2022’s unseasonable warmth, is less than ideal for runners, the crowd support can be even more important. The YouTuber Casey Neistat’s recap of his race last year touched on the importance of a vibrant crowd.

“This is what this city is,” he said in the video. “It’s a collective shared experience for everyone involved, regardless of what their role is.”

If your role on Sunday is to cheer, here are the best places to watch the race in each borough.

The marathon starts here, but runners line up on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and run across it to Brooklyn as soon as the race begins, so there isn’t a place for people to cheer.

Some Staten Island residents put encouraging signs in their yards in case buses carrying runners from the ferry terminal pass by.

Brooklyn has the most miles of the course of any borough, stretching from where the runners come off the bridge in Bay Ridge up to Greenpoint.

No spectators are allowed on the bridge, so runners can hear the cheers from people watching in Bay Ridge before they see them. Then runners begin a long stretch up Fourth Avenue. The closest subway stop is Bay Ridge-95th Street on the R line. Since the subway and race both run along Fourth Avenue, you can hop on and off the R train to see runners in Bay Ridge, Sunset Park and Park Slope.

If you’re cheering with a group and need a spot that’s easy for people from all over to reach, go to Fourth Avenue and Flatbush Avenue, a quick walk from the D, N, Q, R, 2, 3, 4 and 5 trains at the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center stop. Walk up to Lafayette Avenue between Fulton Street and Bedford Avenue for one of the best parties along the course.

You can also catch runners at several points in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, along Bedford Avenue between Lafayette Avenue and Nassau Avenue. Take the L train to Bedford Avenue, the M or J train to Marcy Avenue or the G train to Nassau Avenue or Greenpoint Avenue.

The Queens section is only about two miles long, from the Pulaski Bridge to the Queensboro Bridge. Catch runners as they exit the Pulaski Bridge at roughly the race’s halfway mark.

This is where runners, realizing they still have as far to go as they’ve already come, can use some extra energy. You can take the 7 train to Hunters Point Avenue, Vernon Boulevard or Jackson Avenue, or the G train to 21st Street.

The Bronx is where runners tend to hit the dreaded proverbial wall, so many running clubs set up there to cheer. Karsten Moran for The New York Times

The Bronx has one of the race’s shortest stretches — from Mile 19.5 to Mile 21 — and is one of the best places to cheer. The 20-mile mark, around 135th Street and Alexander Avenue, is a notoriously challenging section of the marathon where some runners can hit the proverbial wall.

Many local running clubs set up in this area to ring cowbells and cheer, so it is guaranteed to be a boisterous spot for spectators and runners. Take the 6 train to Brook Avenue or Third Avenue-138th Street, or the 4 or 5 line to 138th Street-Grand Concourse.

One tip: Whatever you say, do not tell runners “You’re almost there” along this stretch. They are not. If you want to use that cheer, go to Manhattan.

There are actually two stretches of the race in Manhattan. The first, which heads up the East Side and comes between the Queens and Bronx legs, is often among the loudest sections. When runners come off the relatively quiet Queensboro Bridge, the wall of sound provides a huge energy boost.

Spectators line the course several people deep on First Avenue from 59th Street to 96th Street, so if you like cheering with a crowd, this is the spot to be. The Q subway line stops at several points along this stretch.

Runners continue north up First Avenue into East Harlem, before crossing the Willis Avenue bridge into the Bronx. The crowds tend to get smaller the farther north you get — just as the race is getting harder — so runners can probably use some encouragement. North of 96th Street, use the 6 subway line to get to this part of the course.

When runners return to Manhattan from the Bronx, they run down Fifth Avenue through Harlem.

If you want easy access to a restroom because you expect to be cheering all day, head to the Duke Ellington statue at 110th Street and Fifth Avenue. The Charles A. Dana Discovery Center on Harlem Meer has public restrooms and is a short walk from the course. You can take the 2 or 3 trains to Central Park North and walk over. This starts a sneaky uphill section for the runners that feels extra difficult so late in the race. They will be glad to hear cheering.

The incline continues until the runners enter Central Park. The section of the race along Fifth Avenue from 105th Street to 90th Street is particularly iconic, with museums dotting the east side of the course and Central Park to the west. Many train lines will take you here, including the 4, 5, 6 and Q.

You should still avoid saying, “You’re almost there,” unless you head to Central Park South, using the A, C, D or 1 trains at Columbus Circle or the N, Q or R trains at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue. The runners leave the park to run along its southern border before entering it again at Columbus Circle.

With almost 26 miles behind them, they are, finally, almost there.

If you want to scream and shout as runners cross the finish line triumphantly, you can buy tickets for the grandstand event at West 67th Street and West Drive.

If you’re watching from home, the race will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and in Spanish on ESPN3 from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Eastern time.

In New York, it will be shown locally on WABC-TV, Channel 7, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The TCS New York City Marathon app added livestreaming in 2022. You can watch all four professional races (men’s and women’s, wheelchair and open divisions) in full, and get a look at runners passing through five locations along the course.

A new feature on the app stream this year will be commentary on the pro races from the marathoners Des Linden, Galen Rupp and Amanda McGrory.

The app allows you to track runners in real time as well.

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