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Everything you need to know about this year's NYC Marathon

Written by
Will Sabel Courtney

Many of us will probably be sleeping off Halloween hangovers on the morning of November 1, but more than 50,000 people will gather at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, ready to run 26.2 miles in this year's TCS NYC Marathon. The least you can do is haul yourself out of bed to cheer ’em on—we promise you'll be glad you did. Here’s what you need to know about the race.

The route
Starting on Staten Island, the course winds up the western side of Brooklyn, across the Pulaski Bridge into Queens, over the 59th Street Bridge to Manhattan, then up to the Bronx for a hot second before ducking back down Fifth Avenue to Central Park, where it finishes outside Tavern on the Green. The full map can be found below.

Runners to look out for
Spike Lee is grand marshal—the first time a native New Yorker has held the role. That means he'll lead the race, not run it himself. Alicia Keys will be one of the thousands pounding the pavement behind him, along with Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer. And if you get there early enough to see the first runners (and you should, because they're a marvel to behold), look out for current NYC title holder Wilson Kipsang, Boston Marathon champ Lelisa Desisa and top American marathoner Meb Keflezighi, all of whom are in contention for the podium.

Start times
The marathon kicks off at 8:30am with the wheelchair division, followed by handcycle competitors and select disabled athletes, then professional women. The bulk of the runners (including the professional men) hit the course in four waves, starting at 9:50am. Once they’re off, runners have eight-and-a-half hours to complete the course. Most people need far less—the average time last year was 4:34:45. 

How to track your friends and family
If you have family or friends in the race, you can track them via their runner number on the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon Mobile App. A chip embedded in every runner’s bib sends out their time every five kilometers, so you'll know when they're coming.

The best spots to watch
More than 2 million spectators are expected to turn out to cheer for the runners, and there are “cheer zones” set up along the course, where spectators can make signs or pick up noisemakers and pom-poms. Head to Bay Ridge or Park Slope to see them when they’re still fresh, join the crowds on the sidewalks of Upper East Side, or cheer them on as they hit the wall (that’s a running term, not a literal obstacle) in East Harlem.

Why you should check it out 
This is the largest marathon in the world, with 50,530 finishers in 2014, and roughly the same number are expected to complete it this year. Even at that size, it’s pretty exclusive; more than 130,000 people applied for a spot in this year’s race. As runners wind through the various neighborhoods, they’ll pass an average of five different bands every mile, playing everything from jazz to reggae to rock n’ roll (which you can enjoy, too). Lots of people wear fun costumes for the race, and the signs supporters make are often hilarious, too. Plus, there’s something surprisingly moving and emotional about marathon day. When do you ever see New Yorkers standing on the sidewalks to cheer, loudly and unabashedly, for total strangers? Trust us, you’ll get swept up.

Recommended: See our full guide to the New York City Marathon. For more information, visit the TCS New York City Marathon website.

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