TCS NYC Marathon Start Village

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Yesterday was an exciting day with the release of Wave, Corral and Start Village assignments from the NYRR for the TCS NYC Marathon. (If you haven’t seen yours yet, you can log into your account at to find it.)

I got a lot of questions about how the start works once you take the bus or the ferry to Fort Wadsworth, so I thought I’d spend a little time walking you through what it’s been like in past years. I can’t guarantee it will be the same this year, but it hasn’t changed in about six years, so there’s a good chance this will be correct.

Being the largest marathon in the world, the NYRR has developed a pretty sophisticated system for ensuring the course is as easy to maneuver as possible. There will be points during the race where it will seem clogged, but in the eight years I’ve been running, I’ve never had to slow my pace because of congestion on the course.

We’re all broken up by our anticipated race pace. I’m not sure which color is faster, but the general rule is the higher the number the slower the runner. This goes for wave assignments and corral assignments as well. So if you’re wave one, corral A, you’re going to be a pretty fast runner.

So how do you get where you need to go at the TCS NYC Marathon Start Village?

You were assigned either Green, Orange or Blue and a corral – colors and letters correspond to where you start as opposed to your wave which corresponds with your start time.

Here’s the chart of start times from the TCS NYC Marathon site:

TCS NYC Marathon Start Village
Official start times for the 2016 TCS NYC Marathon

Side note, if you’re wondering about getting to the start, check out this post.

So, after you get through security at the entrance to Fort Wadsworth, you follow the signs to your assigned color. Each of the colors/villages will have a baggage check area and plenty of snacks, fluids and porta-potties.

Here’s the map:

TCS NYC Marathon Start Village
Map of TCS NYC Marathon Start Village

There are lots of porta-potties in the corrals, so no worries there. A few minutes before your start time, you’ll be led to the start at the base of the Verrazano Bridge where, after some fanfare, you’ll hear the cannon that signals the start.

Pro tip

Once folks start walking to the base of the bridge, jump into a porta-pottie to relieve yourself one last time, there won’t be any lines and you’ll thank yourself while you’re lined up on the bridge waiting for the cannon. Also, as you can see from the photo below, busses are used to section off the different start areas. If you’re close to one of the busses, make friends with the driver, chances are he or she will let you on to use the bathroom in an emergency.

Here’s the link to my course description so you can find out what you’re in for during the following 26.2 miles.

TCS NYC Marathon Start Village
An aerial view of the color areas lined up at the base of the bridge awaiting the start.

A question I get a lot is, what do I do if I want to run with someone who was assigned a different color, wave or corral?

If there’s someone that you want to run with and they were assigned a “slower” number – a higher number – you’re allowed to run with them without officially changing anything. All you need to do is make sure you go to the corral of the runner with the higher number. Let me say that again. You don’t need to contact the NYRR if you want to move back in the corral system. But, you do need to make sure you check your baggage in the color and number you were assigned or you won’t be able to get it at the end of the race (your bib is your claim check, so to speak).

TCS NYC Marathon Start Village
And a view as each color crosses the bridge into Brooklyn.

As you can see from the picture above, the beginning of the race is a bit different for each color group, but we all meet up shortly in Brooklyn and run the same course from there.

For more info on pre-race tips, check out this post and again, if you’re interested in my course description, you can find it here.

More to come but for now, enjoy the long runs!


      • She was assigned a lower number, i.e. she’s faster than him. So she has to join him in a coral further back or in a later wave. The higher the number the further back or later your start.

  1. Running my first marathon in NYC and definitely appreciate all your tips. I just found out I’m in a green corral in wave 2. Was kind of disappointed that I not only have to run the lower level of the bridge but have to run away from the rest of the pack for the first 5K, it kinda takes away from the magic of the start. It sounds like I may be able to go into wave 3 blue? Since it’s higher?

  2. How different is the course for Green runners as opposed to Blue and Orange? Are there still a lot of spectators on each course? I’m concerned that being a slower runner will put me in a ghost town for the first 8 miles.

    • Local competitive runners also run green, wave 1, corral A. The color just determines your first 5k but they start at the same time. You’ll join up with blue and orange eventually.

  3. I am a slow runner and in the last wave, 11 am start. I likely will finish around 4:30 PM. I am worried about waiting 4 hours to start. What can I do to not let my head get the best of me. Also, will most of the race and the finish have few spectators remaining. When I run a race back of the pack, I often see volunteers closing things up. It’s a bit demoralizing.

    • I’m in the last wave too! At least we can cheer each other on! Although I’d be willing to be there will still be TONS of folks still lining the streets!

  4. Great advice for a first timer like me, especially coming in from overseas there’s so much to think about and organise etc. One thing that does worry me is the amount of time you have to wait in the start village, my bus leaves midtown at 6am! Says 90mins to get there so I’ve got from 7:30 until 10:40 when I’m due to start, why do the busses lesson early and what is there to do for over 3hrs ? I presume as its out in the open there’s no cover if it’s wet and windy your going to be soaked through and pretty unenthusiastic by the time you get called to the start.

    • Hey Mark, glad you found it helpful. The only problem with a race this size is getting everyone to the start, so better to be there early than stuck in traffic or waiting for the ferry (not for you, but for others). Hence the early times. You could chance it, but I always stay on the side of discretion.

      Bring warm clothes that you can throw away (check out my Pre-Race Tips post) and you’ll be a happy camper. Also keep in mind the weather can also be in the 60s, November in NYC is unpredictable.

      Good luck with the rest of your training and have a blast on race day!

      • Thanks Eric, by the sounds of it doing laps queuing for the toilet can while away the hours😀 I’m half expecting SI to resemble a homeless camp with some of the outfits people will be wearing to keep warm! or may be it’ll be the opposite like you say and a bit warmer. Really looking forward to it though, I’m sure it will be an amazing experience that I’ll never forget.
        Thanks again and good luck with your race.

  5. Eric, as a first time runner of the NYC marathon this fall, THANK YOU SO MUCH for these past few articles! They are a tremendous help. Best of luck in your 9th NYC marathon 🙂

  6. Thanks for such a helpful post, Eric. I’m also a first time NYC runner (although I’ve lived in the city for 5 years so I’m pumped to finally get in the race) and have a question about warming up. Is there any space in the Athlete’s Village to loosen up? Ideally I’d like to jog a mile or two and do some strides and stuff but from what I’ve been able to gather, there really isn’t room for that. Any tips on how to warmup before the race?

    • Hey Z, that’s a tough one. I don’t really have an answer for you, so sorry. Most folks I know who are racing, take the bridge easy and use it as a warm up, but it’s the first two miles of the actual race, so it doesn’t really help.

  7. Thank you for the really helpfull information, but I think there is a small mistake on one of the above pictures. On the last picture, where the three colors are coming of the Verrazano bridge, I think blue and orange have been switched.

    I’m also a NY first timer flying in from Belgium. I’m going for a sub 3h and I’m in the first wave in the blue coral. I noticed there are 3 ranges of bib numbers in my wave and coral: 1000 through 1999; 4000 through 4999; 7000 through 10999. I’m in the 4000 range. Will this mean that 1000 through 1999 will line up before me, or do all these ranges move to the start together?

    Thank you for the info, and I hope to meet you at the expo!

    • Thanks fixed it! And you’re correct, the higher the number, the further back you are. Although I wouldn’t worry about crowding, you’ll be fine for a sub 3h.

      Hope to see you at the Expo!

    • The color blue does not determine your corral. That’s just the lane you take across the bridge. Your start number determines your corral and wave. You were assigned a letter A through F. Check your assignment letter. That’s where you gather with others running a similar pace as you.

  8. This is a great article, thanks! If my friend is in a faster corral, am I allowed to join her so we can start the race together?

  9. Thank You Eric for all the useful info, Start map and encouragement to the runners. I will be in the Green Corrals as a volunteer for the 4th year in a row. Nearly all of us are runners or ex-runners and can relate to all of the marathoner’s concerns and questions as well as pre-race jitters, battling nerves and weather etc. Please know that we will be with you every step of the way! To ease your nervousness, to answer questions and offer encouragement and to get all of you to the Start and on your way. The crowds will also carry you along all the way to the Finish Line! GOOD LUCK!

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