The New York City Marathon may run through all five boroughs, but it doesn't give them equal facetime. In fact, the majority of the race is run in just two boroughs, Brooklyn, with roughly 11 miles, and Manhattan, with roughly 8.5. Staten Island gets next to nothing--runners leave Richmond County as soon as the race begins--and the Bronx gets barely over a mile of love. While the Queens section may be short, it comes at an important point in the race.
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Just before the halfway point, runners begin crossing the Pulaski Bridge which links Greenpoint in Brooklyn to Long Island City, Queens. Named after Kazimierz Pułaski, a Polish commander who fought in the American revolution, the bridge spans Newton Creek, one of New York City's two Superfund sites. Though the bridge is an uphill, it's not terrible and runners can distract themselves with the sweeping views of the Midtown Manhattan skyline to the left. There are few spectators, however--they're not allowed on the bridge.
Once across the bridge runners make two quick rights, one onto 48th Ave, and then another onto Vernon Boulevard, the heart of the Hunters Point neighborhood of Long Island City. The area, which takes its name from British sea captain George Hunter, is dominated by low-rise brick and clapboard buildings, many over a century old.
This portion is largely flat and as runners make their way south towards the looming Queensboro Bridge, the bars, restaurants, and bodegas that line the street give way to industrial buildings. At Mile 14 it's time for another turn, this one right onto 44th Drive just after passing the tiny Gordan Triangle Park, named in honor of an LIC local who was killed in World War I.
One Court Square, better known as the Citibank Building, dominates the horizen and pulls runners along. The 50 story tower, completed in 1990, is the tallest building in New York State outside of Manhattan and it serves as an excellent visual marker. As runners move towards it, the street's character changes from industrial to commercial and soon the course passes under the elevated tracks of the IRT Flushing Line.
By the time runners reach the towering Citibank Building, it's time for another turn, this one onto the two-named 25th St/Crescent Street. It's now a short three block trek to Queens Plaza South where runners are greeted by a mass of humanity, many of whom have taken the subway to the Queensboro Plaza Station to cheer. It's a good time for runners to soak in the enthusiasm because the next portion of the course may seem rather desolate.
Runners now make a left onto the Queensboro Bridge, arguably the toughest portion of the course. Starting just before Mile 15 runners begin a more than half-a-mile climb, reaching the crest of the bridge just before it passes over Roosevelt Island. Now it's on to Manhattan.