NYC Marathon Course Map and Route: A Five-Borough Tour

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The New York City Marathon route spans all five boroughs, carrying runners across five bridges and several hilly stretches.

The 26.2-mile race begins in Staten Island and turns north through Brooklyn and Queens. Runners then head west across the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan, up north into the Bronx, and back to Manhattan to finish in Central Park.

It’s a challenging route, particularly because of the hilly bridges. On the bridges, runners are fully exposed to the wind, and because there are no spectators, there can be an eerie silence.

Here’s are a few highlights from along the course, from a runner’s perspective:

Crossing the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is the first challenge, and the longest climb of the race. But there is so much adrenaline from the start, and such a sparkling view of New York Harbor and the downtown skyline, that runners barely feel the ascent.

The calm of Fourth Avenue — nearly six miles without a turn — ultimately gives way to the bedlam of Downtown Brooklyn and Lafayette Avenue. For two miles, there is the joy of the brownstone-lined streets in the heart of the borough, where lots of kids offer orange slices and other refreshments. The real challenge is not letting the music coming from the windows of the house parties force a sprint.

The Brooklyn section of the course may take runners an hour or two. Queens gets done in roughly 10 minutes. The end of the beginning starts with a left in Greenpoint and a view of the Pulaski Bridge into Queens. The middle of the bridge brings the 13.1-mile mark. The bottom of it brings Queens and another boost of noise, which was not there in Long Island City 25 years ago, before the residential construction boom.

The crowd on First Avenue in Manhattan, especially right off the Queensboro Bridge, can be six people deep on either side of the sidewalk. The course stretches out straight north for three miles, music coming from the bars on the Upper East Side, and then from the big speakers beside the avenue on the flats in East Harlem.

The bridges into and out of the Bronx are low and short, and the whole fourth borough gets done in a mile and a half. Quick turns throw in some variety after a long straightaway. The race passes the 20-mile mark in the Bronx, where things can get really difficult for runners. Ever heard of the wall?

All the bridges are past. There are two parts to this next stretch of a little less than two miles — getting to Marcus Garvey Park and a picturesque spin around the square, and then 10 blocks to the top of Central Park.

When the Guggenheim Museum comes into view, runners have three miles remaining. The course weaves into — and briefly out of — Central Park, where the finish line beckons.