Whether you’re from New York or coming from out of town, these are the 10 races you should try to run at least once in your lifetime!
As an avid runner and lifelong New Yorker, I’ve run over 35 races in New York City. As a matter of fact, I’ve participated in almost every single race that New York Road Runner (NYRR) offers, and some more than once. There is just something about NYC that motivates me to sign up for the same races over and over. Be it the crowds, scenery, or overall excitement, there is nothing better than running a race in NYC (I may be a bit biased), so I’ve compiled a list of 10 of my races in the big apple.
And if you’re looking for info on how to fuel, here are a few resources:
10. Abbott Dash To The Finish 5K
If you want to get a feel for the NYC Marathon but don’t actually want to run 26.2 miles, this race is for you. The day before the marathon, runners line up to run a 5K that ends at the NYC Marathon finish line. You’ll run past Grand Central, through midtown, into Central Park and across the finish line near Tavern On The Green. As a nice bonus, the weather is usually perfectly crisp and sunny.
9. UAE Healthy Kidney 10K
This 10K is usually at the end of April or beginning of May, so the weather can be a bit variable. It’s a nice 10K through most of Central Park, and it’s one of the only 10Ks in the NYRR line-up. The other one is the Queens 10k in June, which is usually dreadfully hot. In other words, do this one instead!
8. New Year’s Eve Midnight Run
What’s better than starting the New Year out with a run? This 4-mile run is really more of a walk/jog through Central Park. It starts off with an amazing fireworks display at midnight on December 31st, followed by a Central Park jog with sparkling cider at the hydration stations. Since it’s January in New York, chances are that it will be bitterly cold, but it’s so worth it!
7. Jingle Bell Jog- 5K
Another holiday themed race, the Jingle Bell Jog is one of the only NYRR races in Prospect Park. The race is in early December and entry gets you a holiday themed souvenir and a post-race hot chocolate. The weather is usually cool, but not too cold yet, and the atmosphere is super festive and fun. As a bonus, the area has some awesome post-race brunch spots.
6. Race to Deliver- 4M
If you’re looking to do some good before Thanksgiving, sign up for this race. The proceeds go to God’s Love We Deliver, which “provides nutritious meals to people in the New York City metropolitan area who are living with severe illness”. And if that’s not enough, sign up for this race because it’s a fast 4 miles through a gorgeous foliage-filled Central Park in crisp fall temps.
5. 5th Avenue Mile
Want to test your speed on the streets of Manhattan? The 5th Avenue Mile is exactly what it sounds like, a 1-mile race down 5th Avenue. It’s the shortest race in the NYRR arsenal, and the only race where you will feel like you can go for a run afterwards. I’m not a speed demon, but even I felt like I was flying during this one!
4. Staten Island Half Marathon
Before you think, “Ugh, Staten Island”, hear me out. This half marathon starts with an iconic ferry ride past the Statue of Liberty. It’s a bit hilly for a NYC half marathon, but the weather sometimes makes up for it (perfect 50-ish fall day). If it rains, I would suggest staying home (really, not really), because there is practically no cover during this 13.1 mile course. You run along the streets and beaches of Staten Island with a grandiose view of the Verrazano Bridge on your way to the finish line. Fun fact–this is my PR for a half with a 2:02 finish.
3. Brooklyn Half Marathon
The Brooklyn Half takes you on a tour of Brooklyn, starting in Prospect Park and finishing on the boardwalk in Coney Island. Because it’s in rainy springtime (May), the past few years have been a soggy 13.1 miles. But if you get a nice day, it’s a really great half marathon. If you’re interested in running it, make sure you set a reminder to sign up as soon as the race opens. It usually sells out within hours.
2. NYC ½ Marathon
Since this race is in March, the weather can be tricky, aka freezing, on this one as well (are you sensing a theme here?), but it’s the only time you’ll ever get to run through Times Square. This is my favorite race that I’ve run more than once because I love being able to run through the streets of Manhattan. The only problem is that many people agree with my sentiment, so entry to this race is based on a lottery. If you’re in New York City, you can guarantee your entry by running 4 out of the 6 races in the boroughs the year prior, which is what I did the past few years.
1. TCS NYC Marathon
I’ve only run one full marathon, and it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. I’ve lived in NYC for over a decade, but there is nothing like running through the streets of the 5 boroughs and feeling the excitement from the crowd. It was almost two years ago now, and I can still recall almost every mile of this race. I actually wrote an entire post about it here, and I can guarantee that you running the NYC Marathon is not something you will regret.
If you’re thinking of signing up for an NYC race, drop a comment below and let me know which one!