City Pulse

By Caroline Davis

“Baby we were born to run.” Bruce Springsteen had the right idea with his popular 1970′s hit. At least that’s what 40,000 runners are thinking as they prepare for the 40th Annual New York City Marathon this Sunday, November 1st. More than two million spectators will descend on the sidewalks of the five boroughs – Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan — to cheer on these runners as they pant, cramp, sweat, and haul a** 26.2 miles to the finish line.

Running the race? Good God, good luck. Taking the day off? Me too. Our jobs are to hit the New York streets, breathe in that crisp fall air, and scream ourselves hoarse at every cute, short-shorts-wearing guy zipping across the macadam.

Advice to navigating the madness? Select one borough and stick to it. Race day is maddeningly hectic and it will be difficult (if not impossible) to move around the city. Here are our top picks of the most happenin’ locales for ogling the participants and reveling in the marathon fever.

Staten Island: Marks the start of the race. If it’s your neighborhood take advantage but otherwise, avoid it. Not only will you have trouble making your way there in the first place – but you’ll have even more trouble trying to leave.

Brooklyn: Hosting 10 miles of the marathon, Brooklyn will be a happening haven for race day festivities. Head here to check out the Brooklyn Academy of Music at Fourth Avenue and Lafayette Avenue. Contribute to the noise at the ING Cheering Zone, where the runners begin to break up into their respective group levels. Don’t miss McCarren Park where, if you’re feeling inspired, you can jog a few laps on the track (hey, there’s always next year’s marathon!)

Queens: Free giveaways – ‘nuf said. A second ING Cheering Zone on 44th drive between 11th Avenue and 21st will offer up pom-poms, sunglasses, and more for the most gregarious of cheerers.

Manhattan: By far, the most prime real estate for the marathon is the East Side. Prepare to jostle a bit to gain position on First Avenue, where the crowds overwhelm but the energy is infectious. Food Emporium will host a food sampling station at First Avenue and 59th Street. Take a break to nosh on snacks and beverages from Emerald Nuts, New York Apple, and Poland Spring. Then head over to Central Park South where you’ll catch a glimpse of the runners for a second time.

The Bronx: The Bronx spells a particularly painful part of the race, as runners reach their 20th mile mark. Give those marathoners a boost by cheering extra loud before rocking out at the Robinhood Foundation-sponsored block party at 135th and Alexander Avenue.

Originally published October 2009
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