The first Sunday in November, when tens of thousands of runners course through Brooklyn, is one of my favorite days of the year. Yes, it starts on Staten Island and eventually detours through Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and Manhattan again – but the best part of the New York City Marathon is right here in Brooklyn.
Let me say first off: I would have loved the Bosque de Tlalpan under any circumstances. But in these fear-stalked, plague-ridden times, I love it even more. We all need more nature in our lives right now. Every breeze, every birdsong, every falling leaf and fluttering butterfly feels like a little bit of normalcy that also happens to be beautiful and soul-soothing. Continue reading →
Get there early in the morning, before the sun is fully up, and you’ll find the Viveros de Coyoacán already alive. Birds twitter and chirp as runners circle the perimeter path, their feet making crunching sounds in the fine red gravel.
The Viveros are part park, part nursery. They date from 1901, when Miguel Ángel de Quevedo – an engineer and architect who was also a passionate environmentalist, known in Mexico as “el apóstol del árbol” – donated a plot of land to be used as a public nursery. The idea caught the attention of Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz. Díaz was an asshole, but he was also genuinely committed to the beautification of Mexico City. In his autocratic eyes, making the city more beautiful meant making it more modern and European, and that meant ornate architecture and wide, tree-lined boulevards.
Where would all those trees come from? Why, the Viveros of Coyoacán, of course. Continue reading →
Here it is, delayed by my traditional post-marathon trip (look for a report on Brooklyn in Texas, coming soon) and general laziness: the view from the sidelines of this year’s NYC marathon. Seeing as how I presume to publish a spectator’s guide every year, it only seems right to share how my own spectating went down.
Pre-race – an odd encounter
I began the day, as is my custom, with a run along the Fourth Avenue segment of the course, from roughly Mile 7 in Park Slope to Mile 2.something in Bay Ridge. Thanks to the end of daylight savings time (daylight savings time is a fraud and a scourge, as far as I’m concerned, and I look forward to its end almost as much as I look forward to the marathon), I was able to set out in full light a little after 7 am. As I ran, I kept a rough count of the people I saw along the course. In descending order of frequency, they included:
Race volunteers (thank you, all of you)
NYC Department of Transportation trucks and personnel (so that runners would have fresh, sticky asphalt to step in, which I suppose is marginally better than potholes)
People telling me I was going the wrong way (only two this year, well under the norm)
A guy wearing a marathon race bib, seemingly doing strides on 92nd St
Old Brooklyn, new Brooklyn – you’ll find both along the marathon course
For five years now, I’ve compiled a spectators’ guide to the Greatest Race in the World, sometimes known as the NYC Marathon. The Brooklyn (and to a lesser extent Queens) sections of the course are now well-trodden terrain for this blog, and I’ve even ventured up to East Harlem and the Bronx. This year, I’m taking a slightly different approach. Instead of aiming for comprehensiveness, I’m focusing on a handful of specific neighborhoods; instead of limiting my comments to the marathon course, I’m offering a broader tour, including a bit of history and other things to do in the area, assuming you can tear yourself away from the race.
If you prefer a more comprehensive approach, you’ll find mile-by-mile suggestions, as well as viewing tips and advice on race day logistics, in my posts from 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015. While I don’t claim to have revisited and re-reviewed all of my past recommendations, I’ve tried to at least note closings. (And if you’re interested in knowing how I’ve personally spent Marathon Sunday since my retirement from marathon running, you can read my reports from last year and 2017 here and here.)
So, where should you watch the marathon in Brooklyn this year? (Because it goes without saying that you’ll be watching it in Brooklyn, right? We are the longest and best part of the course.) Read on for my top picks. Continue reading →
Ah, the Brooklyn Half! This used to be my favorite race, an un-ironic celebration of all things Brooklyn. Then it became my favorite race as an ironic celebration of a very specific Brooklyn, the Brooklyn of curated food trucks, craft beer, and made-for-Instagram photo ops.
So what happened this year? My lack of excitement was matched only by my lack of preparation. I was running, because, well, that’s what I do – but honestly, I would really have rather spent the morning birding.
Taking selfies while facing the sun, and racing in a keffiyeh: two bad ideas. (Photo credit: Lisa Maya Knauer)
I haven’t raced in six months and a day, and the Gaza 5K was the perfect way to ease back in. The emphasis of this race is on fundraising (to support community mental health services for kids in Gaza) and community. It doesn’t start on time, the course isn’t accurately measured, there are no mile markers, and the chaotic starting area is crowded with kids and strollers – but so what? How many other races do you know that culminate in a dabke dance party? Continue reading →
Here it is, at last: my report on this year’s NYC marathon from the spectators’ side of the police tape.
As you may recall, I’d mapped out a plan in advance that would take me from Park Slope to Bay Ridge (with a stop in Sunset Park) to Greenpoint to Long Island City to East Harlem to the Upper West Side. I executed my non-running race plan much better than I’ve ever executed any of my actual running race plans. You could even say I hit my “A” goal.
I also learned a lot, and am already making plans for 2019.
I’ll be back with a full report after the race, but here’s my game plan for tomorrow:
7ish – Head out early to run miles 3-7 backwards, starting at 3rd St in Park Slope and ending at 95th St in Bay Ridge (where I’ll refuel at Rocco’s). Potential additional stop: Panadería Don Paco López. Continue reading →
To help you have the best possible marathon-viewing experience, I’ve compiled pointers from my own past races – those I ran (2005, 2006, 2009 DNF, 2014, 2015) and those I watched (2007, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017). This summer and fall, I ran the course (in manageable segments), seeking out interesting places to stop for a bite to eat and something warm (or cold – one never knows what kind of weather the first Sunday in November will bring) to drink.
This guide, like the three before it, is unabashedly Outer Borough-centric. That’s true for several reasons. First, I’m an Outer Borough kind of gal. Second, the crowded viewing spots along First Avenue and Central Park don’t require a guide; they’re where people go by default. Third, and most important – I honestly believe that your viewing experience will be better here. You’ll be closer to the action, and also closer to the real spirit of the race, and of the city.