Where Should I Watch on Race Day?

Where Should I Watch on Race Day?

in Race Prep by

I’ve been getting a lot of questions asking me where runners should tell their friends and family to go and watch them while they run the TCS NYC Marathon.

Check out my other posts on the TCS NYC Marathon here.

First know that there are some apps that spectators need to have on their phone.

Essential tools for tracking and finding your runner:

  • The official TCS NYC Marathon app (free on Google Play and the Apple Store). You’ll get virtually real time updates when your runner hits certain parts of the course. It’s not perfect, but it will give you a great idea where your runner will be when.
  • The app also has a virtual maps:
    • A tracking map to see where on the course your runner is expected to be and when
    • A course map that shows what stops are closest to a section of the course where you want to spectate
    • A Finish Zone map showing the best place to find your runner
  • Google Maps (also free on Google Play and the Apple Store) – I HIGHLY recommend you download the Google Maps app to your phone. Not only does it give you walking directions, but you can figure out how to get somewhere on the subway by typing in intersections (and it takes into account subway construction and any lines that may not be running – which is common on weekends). So, if you don’t know how to get from say Bay Ridge (at the start of the race) to Central Park South (towards the end of the race), you’ll get detailed instructions that includes all transfers. I’ve lived in NYC for 21 years and still rely on these instructions to get places I’m unfamiliar with.
Where Should I Watch on Race Day
TCS NYC Marathon App Screens


My general caveat to this post is, I always tell my friends and family to hang out in places that are less crowded to give us both a chance to find each other during the race. But there’s a lot to be said for jamming your way into one of the crowded areas (like 4th Avenue near downtown Brooklyn, parts of Williamsburg or 1st Avenue from 59th Street to 90th), the energy is palpable to runners, I can only imagine what it’s like for spectators!

But, if you want to see your runner or see your friends or family, here’s what I tell my people.

Where Should I Watch on Race Day?

Here’s what I wrote in my pre-race tips post:

Have people coming to watch you during the race? Make sure you know where they are. It’ll be easier for you to find them and virtually impossible for them to find you. Let me repeat that, because this is the question I get more often than any other: It’ll be easier for you to find them and virtually impossible for them to find you. Don’t rely on the app from the NYRR. It’s a great way to get a general feel for when a runner will be at a certain place, but it is far from perfect.

I always ask my friends and family to hang out on First Avenue above 100th Street but before The Bronx – the crowds thin out a little there. And if your friends hang out on First Avenue, they can easily walk over to see you on your way down 5th Avenue – it’s just a 15-20 minute walk for them.

With that said, keep in mind the race is 26.2 miles long and there are basically only two places people aren’t allowed to spectate on the course, the Verrazano Bridge and the 59th Street Bridge. Other than that, you can either get tickets (Central Park finish line) or take the subway around the course to see runners.

Here are some spots that I would recommend as they aren’t too congested.

Brooklyn spectating during the TCS NYC Marathon

Fourth Avenue – this is the longest straightaway on the course. All of the colors converge just before Bay Ridge Avenue. Below is part of a NYC Subway Map that I’ve added red arrows to that indicate where (and on which side of the street) it’s less congested and your family and friends will have a better chance of seeing you (NOTE: the arrow pointing to the Verrazano Bridge is only for information and reference to the course, you can’t spectate on the bridge).

Where Should I Watch on Race Day
Start of the race spectating

It gets really congested with spectators the closer the race gets to downtown Brooklyn, so I suggest skipping that area. Taking the G to the Clinton Hill or Green Point neighborhoods are also good options.

Queens spectating during the TCS NYC Marathon

The only place I can recommend in Queens is right over the Pulaski Bridge (just after the halfway point) in Long Island City. We wind through some random streets in Queens and I don’t know it well enough to recommend anything but that area.

Where Should I Watch on Race Day
Clinton Hill, Greenpoint and Long Island City spectating points.

Manhattan spectating during the TCS NYC Marathon

Once you’re over the 59th Street Bridge and into Manhattan, my recommendations for First and Fifth Avenue are above in italics.

Inside Central Park south of 90th Street and Central Park South into Columbus Circle are detailed in the maps below.

Where Should I Watch on Race Day
Spectating inside Central Park from 84th to 72nd Street
Where Should I Watch on Race Day
Spectating from 64th down to 59th, across Central Park South and Columbus Circle.

Keep in mind that Central Park can be a great place to spectate, there’s lots of energy, the runners need a boost and it’s bursting with color so you can forget you’re in Manhattan.

Central Park South (59th Street) is also great depending on what time of day your runner will cross, earlier is super crowded, but it thins out later in the day.

Where Should I Watch on Race Day?
Central Park South where runners can almost smell the finish line

Check out my other posts on the TCS NYC Marathon here.

Enjoy the race!



  1. My family waited for me in front of courtyard Marriott Long Island city before the bridge to NYC. It was about miles 15. Family able to relax inside the hotel lobby while waiting for mE. This also motivated me to keep my pace until mile 15.

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