|Central Park Running Map|
The New York City marathon was originally located in Central Park. Runners in the 1970s would complete loops through the park drive area, which could be grueling. Less than half of participants finished the race in these early years since the loops covered some of the most exhausting ground of the park, including steep hills.
In today's marathon, which is the traditional length of 26 miles, runners begin on Staten Island and end at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. To watch runners cross the finish line at Tavern on the Green you must purchase tickets, as space is limited. The race leaves the boroughs and enters Manhattan at mile 16. From there it goes down Fifth Avenue, eventually crosses southern Central Park, loops out again, and reenters the park at Columbus Circle. The marathon usually takes place the first weekend in November. Large sections of the park are closed to pedestrians and cars to accommodate the race. In recent years, the race has been renamed the ING New York City Marathon because of ING's sponsorship of the event.
The Central Park portions of the marathon take a tremendous amount of work to organize. The New York Roadunners Club is primarily responsible for the activities at Tavern on the Green, including helping runners and family members find each other after the race is over. If you are interested in viewing the marathon, there are a few spots in the park that are worthwhile, including the area near 67th Street.