Whether you’re running or cheering, the TCS New York City Marathon is an unforgettable spectacle. Starting on Staten Island and winding through Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx before finishing (uphill!) in Central Park, the race touches many of New York’s most diverse neighborhoods. From the blazing fast professional athletes who lead the pack to the weekend warriors, charity fundraisers, and everyday heroes who chase them, every one of the 50,000 runners in the race is treated to a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the greatest city on earth. That much is obvious—but did you know this?
When the canon fires, runners start the race on the longest bridge in the United States. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge is longer than the Golden Gate, and it’s the biggest hill on the course. The bridge is named for Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, whose descendants still live in Tuscany, where they make superb Chianti (wait until after the race to open a bottle).
The first New York City Marathon was held entirely in Central Park. Runners ran around, and around, and around until 1976, when organizer Fred Lebow decided to commemorate America’s bicentennial by moving the race to the streets of the five boroughs. The mile in the Bronx is the only part of the race that takes place on the North American mainland; the rest of the course is on Staten Island, Long Island (home to Brooklyn and Queens), and Manhattan.
The Brooklyn miles carry you past two sports landmarks (one old, one new). The Brooklyn Dodgers played at Ebbets Field—but all that’s left of the famed ballpark is its left-field wall, still visible on Third Street. A little farther along, you’ll pass the Barclays Center, home to the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA and the New York Islanders of the NHL.
The FDNY and the NYPD stage a race-within-a-race. The Mayor’s Cup is awarded annually to the first team with ten finishers. It’s been a pretty lopsided contest; since its inception in 1992, New York’s Bravest have claimed the trophy 26 times, while the city’s Finest have won only five titles. Following the 9/11 attack, the teams set aside their rivalry and ran together.
Four members of the 1994 Stanley Cup Champion New York Rangers have run the New York City Marathon. And three of their numbers hang in the rafters at Madison Square Garden, having been retired by the team. Goalie Mike Richter clocked the quickest time (3:54), followed by captain Mark Messier (4:14), and forwards Adam Graves (4:27) and Nick Kypreos (4:43). The team hasn’t lifted the Cup in more than two decades—maybe they should work running back into their training.