Sunday, March 16, 2014 • New York, NY
One of the city’s most popular distance running events each year, the New York City Half celebrates its 9th annual running in 2015, after a redesigned course brought more than 20,000 runners onto the streets of Manhattan for the race, which begins on Central Park’s East Drive and starts off with a clockwise loop around the park.
From there, the race takes the field along Seventh Avenue toward Times Square, and then along 42nd Street and the West Side Highway toward the Hudson River waterfront and onto lower Manhattan, and finishes at Wall Street and Water Street, just blocks from Battery Park. (The race’s 2015 date had not yet been announced at this writing, but will be added above when available.)
A few years back, this runner was in the back of the pack in the 10,000-11,000 race number group, and everyone was in good spirits at the start of the race, waiting for the start. From my perspective, it seemed completely well-organized and smooth (there were plenty of porta-potties with no long lines that I could see at the start, and stations of them at several points along the course), and got off without a hitch.
If you’re planning on running the race, you need to know there are some pretty hilly stretches. The first 6 1/2 miles take you all through Central Park, from the starting line at Central Park’s West Drive and 64th Street all the way around the park in a counter-clockwise loop that brings you back past the start out to the exit onto 7th.
Since it’s the spring, the scenery is a lot less green and lush than it would be in the summer — the leaves aren’t yet on the trees, but that lets you see more of the buildings, museums and high rises along the route through the park. And it’s winding and hilly through the park, with some switchback-style turns near the north end of the park.
But after the hills in the park, the real payoff comes after you pass about the mile 7 marker and then head out into the city, down 7th Avenue and into Times Square. This stretch is all downhill, a nice reprieve that lets you take in everything. I can’t stress enough how cool it is, after the trees and rocks and hills of Central Park, then to run down into the gleaming towers and lights of Times Square.
After that, runners turn right on 42nd Street and head onto the West Side Highway, which is completely flat for the last few miles of the race. For 2014, the course was redesigned so that the finish line moves from its former Chambers Street location near Battery Park to Wall Street and Water Street — this means that runners will run a brief stretch through the Battery Park Underpass to FDR Drive, and then back out into the sunlight for the finish.
There’s several small bands out there playing, plus what must have been a race volunteer (or just an enthusiastic onlooker!) who was out at several points in the race cheering everyone on, telling the women runners “hey ladies, look — you’ve just stopped traffic!” He must have been speeding by bike from location to location, b/c we no doubt saw him at like 4 points along the route.
Race Climate & Weather
Set for its annual early springtime running just a few days before the first day of spring, the New York City Half Marathon is likely to have cool and perhaps even quite cold weather conditions, based on past weather averages for this time of year.
On the day of the race (March 16), the average low is 32ºF and the average high is 48ºF.
- $117 for members of the New York City Road Runners, if registered by December 9, 2013
- $128 for non-members
To reserve your spot in the late winter/early spring 2014 running of the New York Road Runners’ New York City Half Marathon, visit the event website.