By Tiffany England
Even though I’m not running the race this weekend, I was curious about the new NYC Half course, so I ran it on my own! Well, as best I could without official road closures. Here is what I found:
Manage Your Effort Well Early
Miles 1-2: This is going to be a FAST start! Running from the Grand Army Plaza to Manhattan Bridge on Flatbush Avenue is all downhill. Runners should take care to keep their pace in check as they pass by Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets.
Take In The Incredible Views
Miles 2-3: One of the highlights of the course is the Manhattan Bridge. It is the biggest climb of the course, but you’ll be treated to views of the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan on your left, and Midtown to your right. Be sure to look up and around as you grind it out on the mile long uphill.
Navigate Tight Turns Leading To The FDR
Miles 4-7: Coming off the Manhattan Bridge you’ll weave through the Lower East Side. The streets narrow a bit and there are a couple of tight turns. Be sure not to trip over your fellow racers! Just before Mile 5 the course heads up the ramp onto FDR Drive. I couldn’t actually run on the FDR as the roads were open to traffic, but this will still be a nice flat section. Again, there are great views including the Empire State Building and the UN, as well as the river to your right. Who doesn’t enjoy running along the water? You may be exposed to the elements a bit here depending on the wind and sun on race day. Make sure to run the tangents and tuck in behind a pace group if you’re facing a stiff headwind.
A Long Climb To The Party In Times Square
Miles 7-9: You’ll make a left turn on 42nd Street and then face one long uphill to Times Square. The race is only more challenging from this point on, so be sure to notice the classic NYC sights around you like Grand Central, Bryant Park and of course Times Square! I doubt you’ll notice the slight incline when you’re surrounded by all the bright lights and cheering crowds.
The Rolling Hills Of Central Park To Finish
Miles 9-13: This is where runners will really have to prove themselves as they enter idyllic Central Park. Every hill will feel tougher than the one before with the big ones at Mile 10 (Cat Hill) and Mile 12. The good news is you avoid going up Harlem Hill and the last half mile is a downhill finish.
Overall, the new NYC Half course is definitely more challenging and scenic at the same time. I would not call it a PR course (unless you are really quite strong at uphills and manage your effort well early) but it is going to be a fun experience and one you won’t regret!
Tiffany England is an NYC-based VDOT Coach specializing in the half marathon, marathon and ultra marathon. She coaches with The Run SMART Project for the NY Flyers’ Marathon Training Program (one of the largest local running clubs in NYC) as well as the Robin Hood Foundation’s Marathon Training Program. To work with Tiffany learn more about her coaching profile, products & services.