48 Fun Facts About The 48th Annual TCS NYC Marathon

In honor of the race’s 48th anniversary, we’ve compiled a list of fun facts about the most popular marathon in the world. Don’t forget to tune in to the race on Sunday! (Here’s how to stream it live.)

  1. It’s the world’s largest marathon.
  2. There were 51,394 finishers (!) in 2016.
  3. Of the 51,394 finishers, 41.8 percent were women.
  4. Last year’s average finish time was 4:37:38.
  5. In its inaugural year, participants ran the entire 26.2 miles in Central Park.
  6. The course now winds through all five New York City boroughs.
  7. Of the 127 runners who participated in the first NYC Marathon in 1970, only 55 finished.
  8. Among those 127 runners was only one woman, who did not complete the race.
  9. The registration cost for the very first NYC Marathon was just $1.
  10. The registration fee for 2017’s race was $295 for U.S. residents and $358 for non-residents. New York Road Runners members were eligible to register for a discounted fee of $255.
  11. It’s a Boston-qualifying race.
  12. Elite runner Meb Keflezighi ran his first marathon on the NYC route in 2002; he’ll return for the 26th and final marathon of his professional career on Sunday.
  13. For the last four years, Tatyana McFadden has been the wheelchair champion for women. She’s racing for her fifth consecutive win on Sunday.
  14. The only year the race was cancelled was in 2012, when the city was recovering from Hurricane Sandy.
  15. The women’s course record (2:22:31) was set in 2003 by Margaret Okayo.
  16. The men’s course record (2:05:06) was set in 2011 by Geoffrey Mutai.
  17. The women’s wheelchair record (1:43:04) was set in 2015 by Tatyana McFadden.
  18. The men’s wheelchair record (1:29:22) was set in 2006 by Kurt Fearnley.
  19. The most popular age group for women in 2016 was 30 to 34 years.
  20. Runners representing more than 150 countries competed in 2016’s marathon.
  21. Runners must be at least 18 years of age in order to register.
  22. First place finishers will receive $100,000 in prize money.
  23. The wheelchair division purse increased this year to $20,000 for first place, making it the biggest wheelchair-specific race purse in the world.
  24. The course’s highest elevation point is at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, roughly ¾ into the first mile of the race as runners are passing between Staten Island and Brooklyn.
  25. This year’s race will boast approximately 12,000 volunteers.
  26. The lottery application process for race registration began in 1996 and continues to this day.
  27. Mile 9 might just be the most epic of the entire race–after all, that’s where the Bishop Loughlin High School band traditionally plays the theme song from Rocky.
  28. Brooklyn is the flattest (and thus the fastest) borough on the course.
  29. According to the marathon sponsor, Tata Consultancy Services, the average race participant trains by running 34 miles each week.
  30. The most epic marathon finisher was Bob Wieland, a veteran who lost his legs in Vietnam. Wieland completed the entire 26.2-mile distance in 1987, finishing in roughly 98 hours by walking on his hands.
  31. The first female winner was Beth Bonner of West Virginia, who finished the race in 1971 with a time of 2:55:22.
  32. It’s not unheard of for racing couples to propose to (or even marry) each other on the route.
  33. There’s a statue of race co-founder Fred Lebow that’s stationed in Central Park East (at 90th Street near the Guggenheim Museum)–except for on marathon day, when the statue is moved closer to the finish line.
  34. More than 2.5 million spectators are expected to cheer runners on this weekend.
  35. Three is the lucky number for those who need to consume and dispose of fluids, with hydration stations and portapotties available at every mile marker starting with mile 3.
  36. Sweep vans trail race participants at roughly a 15-minute mile pace.
  37. The course officially closes at 7:25 p.m., though roads begin reopening once the sweep van passes them along the route.
  38. The drawing for non-guaranteed entry took place eight months ago on March 2.
  39. The race has four wave starts for amateur participants, the first of which sets off at 9:50 a.m. and the last of which leaves the starting corral at 11 a.m.
  40. The wheelchair division takes to the course hours before the final amateur heat, officially launching the start of the NYC Marathon at 8:30 a.m.
  41. The NYRR organization uses an event alert system, identified by colored flags at the start and finish lines, that gauges course conditions on a scale of green (preferred) to black.
  42. Registered participants are the only ones allowed on the course; if a runner isn’t wearing an official race bib, she or he will be asked to leave.
  43. No dogs or other pets are allowed to accompany their owners on the course.
  44. Strollers are also banned from the course.
  45. Runners cross five bridges during the race: the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Pulaski Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge, the Willis Avenue Bridge and the Madison Avenue Bridge.
  46. Several celebrities will be running this year’s marathon, including these 12.
  47. This year’s professional wave will include 12 former NYC Marathon champions.
  48. Twenty-two Olympians and 20 Paralympians will also compete in this year’s race.

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