Run For Your Lives!

3rd Ave & 138th St

This is not a post about Mayor Adams’ anti-crime initiatives. On Sunday 50,000 athletes of all backgrounds and abilities from around the world will compete in the 51st annual New York City Marathon. It will run at full capacity again after last year’s half sized roster and 2020’s cancelation. Mile 20 of the 26.2 mile course will bring them through the South Bronx, which is more mileage than Staten Island gets. Long time contestants have certainly noticed changes in the local landscape.

The runners and wheelchairs used to come through a mostly industrial area whose businesses are closed on Sundays. Many of those properties have been replaced with new apartment buildings so, the formerly desolate environment has been replaced by crowds of Bronxites cheering the contestants.

When my father ran the marathon in the 1980s, this was usually his fastest mile. That’s partly because the course comes across the Willis Avenue Bridge and proceeds mostly downhill until it gets to the Madison Avenue Bridge and returns to Manhattan. That’s a good thing as mile 20 is when many marathoners “hit the wall.”

The Bronx Course

Zoom in on interactive map to see detailed course of the NYC Marathon

The athletes come down E 135th Street, like we all do when we want to avoid the RFK bridge. Instead of taking a left over the Third Ave Bridge, they’ll turn uptown on Alexander Ave. Their first real taste of The Bronx will come at the Mitchel public housing complex where music and hoopla will rejuvenate their batteries. It will be a street party to rival those in Brooklyn and the Upper East Side.

Turning left on E 138th St will see the party amped up as they run through the square at Third Ave. This is where the Boogie Down Bronx Runners Club will be drawing sustenance from their friends and families as they embark on the final 10 kilometers of the race.

Boogie Down Bronx Runners Cheer Zone

Plan Your Day

If you want a good Bronx viewing spot, this is it. The city has set up a line of portable toilets outside the 3rd Ave–138th St 6 Train station, across from the NYPD 40th Precinct. Restaurants that serve the new apartment buildings will be teaming with fans out to give a Bronx welcome to all the athletes traversing through our borough.

The weather forecast says partly cloudy skies should keep the runners cool as mild temperatures bring out the crowds. At a roughly 2 hour pace, the leaders should come through after 10am with the women about 15 minutes ahead of the men, who start later. Wheelchair leaders will probably come through about 9:30. So come down for breakfast and stay through lunchtime, or until you see your favorite athlete.

You can track any contestant through a chip in their number on the TCS NYC Marathon App and get race day communications and an interactive spectator guide.

If you plan to take the subways, check your MTA app. The nearby 4, 5, and 6 train stations may have closures on Sunday. Walk the extra stop if necessary and enjoy all the excitement of this classic NYC event coming through a Bronx neighborhood undergoing a sweeping transformation.

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