Friday, October 26, 2012

A Runner's Guide to the Bridges of the New York City Marathon

Since the New York City Marathon is just over a week away, I figured I would take a break from Friday poetry to post something that could potentially be useful to runners. For those readers not running New York, I'm sorry, but poetry will make a triumphant return in the near future.
During the course of the New York City Marathon, runners visit three different islands (Staten Island, Long Island, and Manhattan Island) with only the briefest of visits to Mainland, U.S.A. In order to get from island to island, runners pass over 5 different bridges, two that are somewhat well-known and three that get short shrift. Because I like to mentally divide the course using the bridges, I present to you my runner's guide to the bridges of the New York City Marathon.

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
Length: 13,700 ft
Type: Double-decked suspension bridge.
Year Opened: 1964

The Verrazano Bridge marks the start of the marathon, carrying runners nearly two miles from Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. For blue and orange runners on the top, it provides sweeping views of New York Harbor; for runners on the bottom…forget the views and stay in the middle. The bridge also forms the biggest hill of the race, something to remember when you encounter the Queensboro

Pulaski Bridge
Length: 2,810 ft
Type: Bascule bridge (a.k.a., drawbridge)
Year Opened: 1954

The Pulaski Bridge, named after a Polish general in the American Revolutionary War, connects Greenpoint, Brooklyn to Hunters Point in Long Island City, Queens. It crosses Newton Creek, one of the most polluted bodies of water in America. But you don’t care about that. You care about that fact that the Pulaski Bridge comes at the halfway point in the race. Congrats! Only 13.1 more miles to go.

                                                 Queensboro (59th Street) Bridge
Length: 3,724 ft
Type: Cantilever truss bridge
Year Opened: 1909

While the Pulaski Bridge marks the halfway point in the marathon, for many runners the race truly begins on the Queensboro Bridge. That's because runner's must climb roughly 130 ft as they cross the East River before beginning their descent to Manhattan's 1st Avenue. As you get closer to Mile 16 and Manhattan you begin to hear the crowd. The trick is in enjoying the crowd's energy without speeding up and wasting too much of your own.

Willis Avenue Bridge
Length: 3,212 ft
Type: Swing bridge
Year Opened: 2010

After 109 years of service, the Willis Avenue Bridge was replaced in 2010. The roadbed of the old bridge was made of open steel grating prompting marathon officials to cover it in orange carpeting for the race. With solid deck that no longer requires carpeting, the new bridge may no longer stand out for its odd appearance but it’s still notable to runners because it comes at Mile 20, the point when many runners hit “the wall.” It also carries runners out of Manhattan and into their final borough, the Bronx.*

Photo credit: Steve Boyle Photo

Madison Avenue Bridge
Length: 2,893 ft
Type: Swing bridge
Year Opened: 1910

The shortest and second-oldest bridge on the course, the Madison Avenue Bridge carries runners out of the Bronx, depositing them on 5th Avenue in Manhattan at Mile 21. Yes, the Madison Avenue Bridge connects to Madison Avenue too, but since that’s not part of the marathon, who cares? If you make it over this bridge you know you're going to finish the race!

* After the Bronx, runners return to Manhattan, but by that point they have already run through all five boroughs.

1 comment:

  1. i remember coming off the queensboro bridge and thinking i was running on the red carpet!