RACE: United Airlines NYC Half
DATE: Sunday, March 20, 2016
LENGTH: 13.1 miles
RUNIT RATING: Bucket Lister!
Start spreading the news! The United Airlines NYC Half is a must-run for anyone comfortable and capable of running the half marathon distance. I went into the race not expecting anything special. Boy was I wrong! I am originally from upstate New York and I do visit the city every so often but I can’t say that I’m a big city person. I enjoy my visits, as long as they are short. I was worried about the logistics and the crowds of this race but I was pleasantly surprised by my big city race experience.
The NYC Half has a lottery entry registration so you’re not guaranteed a spot just because you want to run and are willing to pay. Luckily, both Sarah and I were selected in the registration lottery this year. I didn’t have too much time to spend at the United Airlines NYC Half Experience (expo) but there were a ton of vendors set up and lots of cool photo ops. I was able to quickly pick up my bib and grab my race shirt, before hitting the town for dinner and some NCAA basketball.
Despite the 20,000 or so runners, I was able to get through security and meet up with Sarah before the start of the race easily. I would highly recommend staying near Central Park if you can. I stayed at the JW Marriott Essex House overlooking the park and could not have chosen a better location. Race start temperature was in the thirties and it was breezy. While I would have liked it to be a little warmer, I can’t really complain. It wasn’t raining (or snowing) so I was happy.
It would be hard to say which was better, the fantastic course or the overwhelming crowd support so I won’t try to decide. The first 6 miles are in and around Central Park. There were a few small hills, but nothing I wasn’t used to from running the roads in my town.
Just past Mile 6, the course turns onto Seventh Avenue heading toward Times Square. This was by far my favorite part of the race and one of my all time favorite race memories. The roaring crowd and bright lights brought on a wave of emotion and pride, comparable to running through the Magic Kingdom at Disney and even my two full marathon finishes. It’s something you have to experience to understand, which is why it should be on every half-distancer’s race bucket list.
While the excitement faded a little after running through Times Square, the Freedom Tower stood tall in the distance and we ran toward it for a long stretch before running through an underpass and making our way to the big finish on Wall Street. I loved that it was a point to point course so I was able to see more of the city. There was plenty of course support with water, Gatorade and gel and a they gave us a sweet recovery bag stocked with drinks and snacks. The medals are very nice and I love my new tech tee.
After a quick shower and lunch, my husband and I headed to the Natural Museum of American History to check out the National Parks Adventure in IMAX 3D before catching the train home.
This was hands down my favorite visit to the Big Apple in large part because of this amazing race. Be on the look out for 2017 registration info. The United Airlines NYC Half is one you don’t want to miss!
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