I just love the New York Marathon and as an athlete it was one my big regrets that I never got to toe the start line. Yes, the crowds and the vibes of the different borough's no doubt make it a special experience for many of the runners but what has always grabbed my attention has been the challenge of the course and the absence of pacemakers in the elite races.
Prepare well and run a smart race and New York will reward you. Treat it as just another flatish marathon and race accordingly and it could all end in tears. While Boston may have Heartbreak Hill and the rolling section of the Newton Hills to strike fear and respect into competitors, New York has just a series of seemingly innocuous undulations and the bridges of Verrazano Narrows and Queensboro. And it is precisely that variation, especially the downhills which can catch out the unprepared and leave the final section through Central Park feeling like torture.
At the sharp end of the race the absence of pacemakers makes for compelling racing as athletes duel to the end, racing as it should be. Remember Tergat v Ramaala in 2005? If you want a recap of one of the most exciting finishes in marathon history take a look at Youtube. Every time I watch it I wonder who is going to come out on top!
In the end what makes New York such a great test is that it you against the course, your competitors and yourself in the knowledge that you are unlikely to be rewarded with a personal best time, only the satisfaction of performing at your best when it matters.
What type of racing do you go in for?