by John Halvorsen
John Halvorsen is a two-time Olympian and the race director of the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon. He also loves the New York Marathon, ran it twice, and heads down there almost every year. “The New York City Marathon is special because the city is so special. It is the most dynamic city in the world and you draw energy from this during the race. From the distinct cultures seen and experienced as you pass through the boroughs to the huge international crowd wearing their colours on their sleeves (and elsewhere….), both participants and spectators provide you support during the journey,” he says. “There are many marathons, but there’s only one NYC.”
Halvorsen will be in New York this weekend promoting his race, which recently earned double gold status for the 10K and marathon on May 29—but he’ll also be watching the event and cheering on the Canadian runners. Here’s his tips for both spectators and runners alike. Good luck to everyone involved!
- Respect the course. New York is known to be a tough course. It has hills, it gets tougher as you go and the Central Park section can be very tough. Most elite runners expect a 1-2 min slower pace on the 2nd half even if they are in contention to win.
- Manage your nerves. NY is huge and you will feel the energy. A great way to manage your nerves is to make sure you take in the experience, which takes your mind off the competition ahead.
- Be prepared to wait. There is the holding area at the start where you have to be early as everyone gets checked in. You will be there early and will have to wait so make sure you have warm clothes — throw away is best, so not your nicest stuff.
- The race starts in Manhattan….Everything before is just transportation. Be prepared to manage your excitement when you cross the 59th St bridge…it is quiet on the bridge as no spectators are allowed on it, then there are huge crowds as you come off the bridge. Manage your pace here. Then it gets quiet again towards Harlem and then picks up again as you approach the Park (and the hills), you want to have something left for this phase.
- Enjoy the moment…the atmosphere is fantastic.
- This is a busy event. Plan your viewing points ahead of time and if you want a front row seat, especially at some points on the course.
- I like to watch in Manhattan….send your runner off to the start and then go find a good breakfast place where they also show the race. Enjoy some fine NY food while watching them start and race for 10 miles or so and then head out on the course, likely 59th St. Bridge. Crowds are huge. Then once you think your runner has passed then head to the finish.
- NYRR has a great spectator guide….get it and use it if you will be heading out on the course by subway.
- Use the Live Runner Tracking apps available…..makes it so much easier to have a hope of catching the person you want.
- Plan your meet up area well. The exit points are predetermined and very tightly controlled (i.e., security). Consider meeting up somewhere away from the mayhem and make sure you are easy to pick out of a crowd.