The New York marathon is the largest, most popular marathon in the world. Every year, 50,000 runners face the famous 26.2 miles across the 5 NYC boroughs — the NYC marathon route goes through Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Manhattan.
Famously, the New York marathon is also one of the hardest marathons in the world to get into. You can obtain entry in several ways, such as:
Applying for a spot is free but upon entrance, participation fees apply.
The marathon takes place on the first Sunday of November every year and is likely to be the greatest sports event in the city, with over 2 million people watching along the course and 10,000 foreign runners traveling to New York from around the world. International runners can take part in the NYC marathon but will have to obtain a U.S. visa or ESTA travel permit and pay a higher participation fee.
In theory, the New York marathon is open to anyone. Whether you’re a professional athlete or an amateur, a U.S. citizen or an international runner, you are entitled to apply to enter the New York marathon. However, very few people qualify and obtain an NYC marathon number vest to run with.
There are several ways to enter the New York Marathon depending on your circumstances and how early you decide to apply.
The New York Road Runners (NYRR) drawing is one of the most popular ways to apply for the New York marathon. In fact, between 14,000 – 20,000 people sign up for the marathon lottery each year. However, only 15% of applicants end up running the marathon — the same acceptance rate of some of the country’s top universities.
There are 3 drawing pools each year:
Athletes of all marathons around the world often decide to run for a good cause and partner with a charity. Running on behalf of a charity guarantees entry to the NYC marathon.
There are more than 400 charities participating in the New York marathon to choose from. Once you sign up with a charity, you are committing to raise a certain amount of money for their cause before running the marathon with their vest.
Depending on the charity you decide to partner with, you may be provided with race day perks, VIP treatment, and even free marathon training in the months preceding the run.
Due to special circumstances, some people are given guaranteed entry to the New York marathon. There are several reasons why a runner could be guaranteed entry:
Regardless of how you sign up for the marathon (or whether you just want to see the event from the sidewalk), remember that the U.S. government requires all foreign nationals to obtain a valid U.S. travel authorization before boarding the plane.
If you’re planning to stay in the country for a limited time and are a citizen one of the 39 eligible countries, you can easily apply online for an ESTA visa waiver for the U.S. Submitting the application only takes 10 minutes and can be done from anywhere in the world (as long as you have access to a reliable internet connection). If you comply with the ESTA visa waiver requirements and abide by U.S. law during your time in the country, you will have no issues boarding the plane and running the marathon.
Some international tour operators marathon travel packages include support in applying for the relevant U.S. visa permit. Ask your international tour operator if they provide this service.
Considering the great number of U.S. and international tourists reaching New York for the marathon, it’s paramount that you book your accommodation in New York well in advance in order to have a smooth marathon experience while in the city. Most of the conveniently-located facilities will book out all their rooms months prior to the race.
No matter what entry channel you intend to use, applying for the New York marathon is always free. You can enter your name in the lottery or start raising funds for a charity without having to pay.
However, entry fees apply. This means that once you’re granted a spot in the race, you will be charged the relevant NYC marathon fee upon acceptance. The New York marathon entry fees for 2019 are:
The entry fee is non-transferrable and non-refundable. Fees can only be refunded if the event is canceled.