Everything you need to know about the New York City Marathon

November 5, 2023
Here’s everything you need to know before the New York City (NYC) Marathon field takes their mark in Staten Island and races their way to Central Park.
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✔️ The details

The first New York City Marathon was held in September 1970 with only 127 (almost exclusively male) competitors racing loops around Central Park in front of a crowd of just 100 spectators. In 1976, in honor of the U.S. Bicentennial, the course was expanded to traverse through the city’s five boroughs, a tradition which continues to this day.

  • And the marathon grew exponentially from there, ultimately becoming the largest marathon in the world, averaging about 50K participants annually and nearly 2M in-person spectators. Doing it big in the Big Apple.

🏃‍♀️ Who run the world?


Just one woman entered the inaugural NYC Marathon in 1970, even though the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) officially prohibited women from participating in marathon from 1961 to 1972.

  • But when the ban was lifted, there was still a catch in NYC — the amateur women had to start either 10 minutes before or 10 minutes after the men so that they weren’t running the same race. Masculinity is so delicate.

In protest of this so-called “separate-but-equal” race, six women sat down at the starting line for 10 minutes, then stood up and began their race with the men. The AAU got the message and dropped the separate start times soon after.

  • Two years later, Kathrine Switzer won the event, seven years after becoming the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon in 1967.
  • Switzer — who recently appeared on The GIST of It podcast — will hold the women’s finisher banners at today’s race. Beyond well-deserved.

Thanks to these trailblazers, more women are running now than ever before. In fact, over 44% of finishers last year were women. So much for being “fragile.”

👟 The course


Today’s journey will see runners traverse lengthy bridges and steep hills. Here are some key points to watch along the famed course:

Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, Mile 1: Let’s start at the very beginning. The first of five bridges throughout the route, the Verrazzano offers iconic views, but is also tactically important as runners must fight the urge to hustle up and down the hill out of excitement and instead conserve energy for the 25ish miles to come.

Queensboro Bridge, Mile 15: This is one of the most challenging sections of the race due to both the gradual incline on the bridge and the eerie lack of spectators — a stark contrast to the choruses of cheers over the first stretch. Luckily, a downhill and a roaring crowd in Manhattan awaits on the other side…

Central Park, Mile 23: The home stretch. Runners enter the world-famous park from the northeast corner, racing through it for just over three miles before reaching Tavern on the Green, the same landmark runners crossed at the finish line of the OG course.

💪 The contenders


Today’s elite women’s field might be the most stacked NYC has seen in years (although reigning Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir sadly withdrew yesterday), while the elite men’s race is wide open after several scratches.

  • Here are a handful of the runners to know — blink and you might miss ’em.

Sharon Lokedi, Kenya: The defending NYC champ, Lokedi used a late move to win last year’s race — her marathon debut, no less. She’s struggled a bit with injury this season, but hey if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere, right?

Brigid Kosgei, Kenya: Already a five-time World Marathon Majors winner and a former world record holder, Kosgei will race the streets of NYC for the first time today. She says she’s not worried about the course given her experience on hills, but is ready for the head-to-head challenge New York presents.

Hellen Obiri, Kenya: Fresh off winning her Boston Marathon debut in April, Obiri could become the first woman since 1989 to win Boston and NYC in the same year. And she’ll be fueled by a chance at redemption — last year’s NYC Marathon marked her career debut at the distance, and she admits she went out too fast. Lesson learned.

Tamirat Tola, Ethiopia: The fastest man remaining in the field after a litany of withdrawals, Tola won the marathon World Championships just last year and will be out to make the podium after finishing in fourth at his previous NYC appearances (2018 and 2019). No doubt he’ll be even hungrier to impress after being forced to withdraw from the Worlds back in August.

Albert Korir, Kenya: The 2021 New York winner says he’s even fitter than he was two years ago, and it was evident this past April — he posted a personal best en route to a fourth-place finish at the Boston Marathon. And now with a wide open field, the stars are aligning for him to follow up that 2021 victory.

Edward Cheserek, Kenya: Already a well-known name in the running community, 17-time NCAA champ Cheserek will make his marathon debut in NYC. “King Ches” is fresh off a win at the Copenhagen Half in September and will certainly have some helpful pointers from his fiancée, the aforementioned Lokedi. Power couple alert.

📺 How to tune in


It all begins bright and early with the professional wheelchair division at 8 a.m. ET, followed by the handcycle category and select athletes with disabilities at 8:22 a.m. ET, the pro women at 8:40 a.m. ET, the pro men at 9:05 a.m. ET, before five waves of amateur runners set off.

  • Live coverage begins at 8 a.m. ET on ESPN2 in the U.S. and on TSN in Canada. On your mark, get set, enjoy.