Active Travel



New York City Marathon Weekend 2023

Nov 9, 2023 | Active Travel, Marathon Majors, Running

My feet hurt, my throat is sore and I got a blister from the New York City Marathon.

Cheering is HARD!

I was in the city for marathon weekend and working at the expo for Erica Sara (check out her personalised running jewellery) including the official New York Marathon finishers pieces). It was a lot of fun to see the behind the scenes of the opening and closing of the marathon expo and speak to the thousands of runners picking up their bibs.

Although I definitely felt a little jealousy towards everyone running, especially all those running NYC for the first time.

On Saturday morning I ran the Westin x World Marathon Majors shake out run with a group of Six Star hopefuls along the West Side Highway. I love being a Westin Ambassador for Westin London City (join our free monthly 5K runs in London) and getting to be part of marathon weekends. I ran with James who works for Marriott, we hit it off when he was in London working on the London marathon earlier this year and was taking on his first marathon in New York!

Then I ran just over a mile to the start line of the Abbott Dash to the Finish 5K. The race runs from outside the UN building, up Sixth Avenue and into Central Park and over the marathon finish line.

Mostly, I ran it for the beanie (like the Chicago Marathon 5K)

Unfortunately the beanie definitely isn’t as good quality as my much loved Chicago beanie.  And I saw a rat on the course on my way to the start – if you know me, you’ll know that rats are my biggest phobia. I honestly haven’t stopped thinking about this rat sitting on the drain cover and I genuinely reconsidered going on the trip after a news story on rats taking over the city on the BBC a few weeks ago. 

My top sign of the weekend was ‘rats don’t run this city, you do’ 

Back to the 5K – personally I think this is a really fun race to do if you’re in NYC for marathon weekend and not running the marathon or you’re trying to get your 9+1 (the NYRR way of getting guaranteed entry to the NYC Marathon) however, I probably wouldn’t run it again. At $55 its not a cheap race, and if you’re completing the marathon, then I think crossing the finish line for the first time at the end of 26.2 miles is special.

After the race we literally dashed to the Believe in the Run shake out – with over 1000 people there surely it was the biggest shake out in New York? Whilst I didn’t run because my back was feeling a bit twingy after 7.5 miles already that morning, it was so fun to catch up with the Megs and Thomas, and pick up some cool New Balance Stash.

I was testing out the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v13 over the weekend thanks to Runners Need. First impressions are really good, a nice balanced, well cushioned ride. I really like that the heel collar has more padding than previous iterations, and that the toe box feels a little wider, providing comfort for my slightly wide feet (my right foot often has issues with shoe width!) So far I’ve put in a little over 12 miles so it still needs some more testing before I can do a full review!

Saturday afternoon I was working at the expo again – I couldn’t believe how busy it was right up until the final hour. I know people will fly in on Saturday to save on hotel fees etc but the day before a marathon, I like to be off my feet early! It was very cool to be at the expo when it was all packed down and truly made me appreciate how much work goes on behind the scenes at big races.

I was staying at The Westin Times Square and found a great bagel and coffee spot, Grind, round the corner that I visited every morning. By Sunday they knew my order; fresh orange juice, oat latte and cinnamon raisin bagel with very light cream cheese spread. I also used the gear lending kit Hyperice massage gun and calf boots in the room as pre-cheering prep (and again when I got back from cheering!)

Race day is my favourite day. The Westin team and I walked up to Central Park to watch the elites come through, it was a real race between the top ladies which is always fun to see. We stood just after the 1 mile to go sign which was really helpful to get updates from the app and we managed to spot most of our friends running past. It’s so stressful trying to scan the crowd, check the app and hope you haven’t missed them!

After refuelling, we changed locations and watched opposite The Plaza – the final stretch before the right turn into Central Park and the finish line. It’s an interesting point in the race as some runners in the front waves are walking whilst runners in the waves behind are powering to the finish. It can be pretty congested at times which makes it tricky to spot your runners. I missed my friend Kim but spotted a number of others including Thomas from Believe in the Run and Mitch from Bunji.

The New York City Marathon is a long day for everyone involved! Runners have to get to the start line hours ahead of the gun due to bridge closures, and with waves starting from 8.30-11.30, there are people on course for 8+ hours. The real heroes are those final finishers, and one of the things I was most excited about was finally getting to the Finish Line After Dark party. Race announcers stay right until the very end, the finish line is opened up so that spectators can line the way and glow sticks are handed out. So many runners come back with their medals to cheer in the final runners, dance to the music and celebrate the running community at every pace.

I’d love for the London Marathon to do something similar and make the finish line a more inclusive celebratory place for every marathon finisher!

New York City Marathon, you were a dream. I hope I’m back next year…. either running or cheering my head off!

Have you run NYC? Is it on your bucket list? And how can we make the London Marathon finish line as epic as NYC Finish Line After Dark?