When people think of the New York City Marathon, they think of tens of thousands of runners racing through the streets on Sunday morning, spectators with signs in hand cheering them on, and the bliss of a well-deserved, post-race Sunday brunch. But as attendance in the world’s biggest race has ballooned, so too has the schedule of events surrounding it.
Here’s a look at some key events on the race week calendar:
Located on the far west side of Manhattan at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, it’s where runners can pick up their bib number, take a pre-race selfie, and load up on free samples of granola bars, shakes and other goodies. If you forgot to pack that extra layer of running goop, plenty of options will be for sale here, as well as all sorts of demonstrations and promotions from running-focused companies big and small. Volunteers and race experts are on hand to answer any questions about logistics, other races throughout the year or updates on weather or operations on race day. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton have been known to make cameos on the expo grounds as well. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Note that on Thursday and Friday, bib number pickup closes an hour prior.
Motorcoach Tours of the Marathon Course
This is a great option for first-time runners or spectators. Buses depart at a variety of times from Thursday through Saturday, each tour lasting approximately four hours and winding from the Verrazano Bridge to the finish line in Central Park. Pre-order tickets for $45 and reserve times at Nyrr.org.
Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff
A low-key, 5-mile race on Sunday, Oct. 25, that—like the marathon in its early days—stays within the borders of Central Park. It’s a great race for locals or marathoners looking to shake off nerves the week before the main event. It won’t fill up as quickly as the marathon, but early registration on Nyrr.org is advised.
Dash to the Finish Line 5K
A 5K that takes place the day before the marathon is a great way for friends and family not running Sunday to still feel active and part of marathon weekend events. The race starts near the United Nations in East Midtown and, like the marathon, ends in Central Park. Registration for the race is procrastinator-friendly and available on Nyrr.org until 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30.
Marathon Eve Dinner
Open to spectators and runners at the large tent near the finish line from 3:30 p.m. until 8 p.m., the dinner is early enough to accommodate a solid night’s sleep and digestion time. Tickets cost $35 per person and are for sale on Nyrr.org, but limited in quantity. The food is buffet style and the spread usually involves an array of pre-race carbs and proteins.
Night of Champions
This is a high-end affair at The Plaza Hotel (tickets start at $350 per person, a portion of which is tax deductible) that brings together runners to celebrate on Sunday evening. A silent auction also takes place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and for $1,000 per person you can upgrade to joining a VIP cocktail hour and private patron reception to mingle with the elite runners.
Along the east side of the finish line there is limited seating available for $75 a person. The view offers a glimpse of the last 200 meters of the race, usually where the most tears and high fives take place, and within earshot of the iconic Fred Lebow statue. Security near the finish line is extremely tight, so allow for extra time to get to your seats. One’s chances of slipping into the bleachers without a ticket in hand are about as likely as clocking a time faster than Meb Keflezighi.
Blue Line Lounge
A heated option for spectators on Marathon Sunday that includes a gourmet brunch buffet, beer, cocktails and close access to the finish line in Central Park. Tickets are $500 each, with a portion tax deductible as a donation to New York Road Runners youth and community programs.
New York Road Runners 60K
This 60K is the ultra way of saying the New York City Marathon is peanuts. The 37.2-mile course is an arguably far more tedious nine laps in Central Park and takes place two weeks after the Marathon packs up. The event is draped in far less glitz, but will similarly elicit free beers and high fives for participants.