Where to watch the marathon

We already tipped you off to some cool events corresponding with this Sunday's ING New York City Marathon, as well as celebs and runners with inspiring stories to keep your eyes out for during the race. But if you're still searching for an area to cheer on this year's athletes, consider these spots. Note that the race kicks off at 9:10am, and a handy map of the course can be found here

Gowanus and Park Slope, Brooklyn
After crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, runners veer onto Brooklyn's Fourth Avenue, the longest stretch of road on the course. Stake out a spot between 6th and 7th Streets (just before the seven-mile marker) to enjoy live rock tunes by the Wilson Dixon Band, who've performed for NYC marathoners for 22 years. If you need a jolt of caffeine to keep your spirits up, walk a few blocks north through an always-lively throng of Park Slopers and pop into Root Hill Caf for a cup of joe ($1.75).

Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Bring along a sign and give runners an additional boost as they turn off Flatbush Avenue and continue their trek through Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. One of ING's official cheer zones this year is just outside BAM, at the corner of Lafayette Avenue and Ashland Place. Continuing a 30-plus-year tradition, the Bishop Loughton High School marching band, which was profiled a few years back in the Times, continuously performs the theme from Rocky. Catch some of their one-song, several-hour set on Lafayette Avenue between Clermont and Vanderbilt Avenues.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Crowds typically thin out as runners make their way onto Bedford Avenue in the 'Burg, making it a good 'hood to spot a specific marathoner. After yelling some inside jokes at said athlete as they pass (Meatballs references are welcome), head a block west of the course and hit up Blue Bottle Coffee for a serving of the shop's San Francisco brew ($2.75).

90th Street, Upper East Side
With long stretches on both First and Fifth Avenues, the Upper East Side affords the chance to catch runners at two different parts of the course—at around the halfway mark, before they go through the Bronx, as well as just before their final descent into Central Park. Just make sure you stay on the west side of First Avenue, as crossing the street among a bevy of runners is a gamble. Since you have some time to kill before seeing your runner again on Fifth Avenue (at mile 23), we suggest nabbing a pint (like a Guinness, $7) at the tiny Caledonia Scottish Pub (1609 Second Ave between 83rd and 84th Sts; 212-879-0402, caledoniascottishpub.com), which opens at noon on Sunday. 

Central Park
Want to give your amigo one last burst of energy to finish the race? Root them on on the east side of the park, at 68th Street (mile 24), and then book it straight west to catch them at the finish line.