On the road again: Crowds savor return of NYC Marathon after pandemic pause

Crowds cheer runners in the 2021 New York City Marathon passing through Long Island City, Queens, on Nov. 7.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

At the halfway point of the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday, New Yorkers were in full gear cheering on thousands of runners striding once again after a one-year pandemic hiatus.

Hundreds of spectators flocked to cheer on the runners coming off the Pulaski Bridge between Brooklyn and Queens on the cool and sunny fall day, with many overjoyed to see the sports mega-event back on the road. 

“I feel like this is a historical marathon,” said Astoria resident Ariane Lovell as she watched from the sidelines at 11th Street and Jackson Avenue in Long Island City with her husband Lawrence and their one-year-old son Miles.

“I feel like this is a historical marathon,” said Astoria resident Ariane Lovell, who watched with husband Lawrence and one-year-old son Miles.Photo by Kevin Duggan

“I love the view of everyone coming over the bridge,” she added. “It is just so invigorating and it is really great to see people of all backgrounds and ability running.”

The bridge with Manhattan skyline views marks mile 13 of the 26.2-mile course through the city’s five boroughs, and early frontrunners started trickling through just before 10 a.m., followed by a stream of contestants about an hour later.

People waved hand-made signs and a band played upbeat tunes to lift the runners’s spirits and feet as they headed into the second half of their cross-city journey.

“It is the halfway mark, you need that extra boost,” noted Lovell. 

The first pro runners took off at the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, before jogging the length of Brooklyn, over the Pulaski Bridge for a short stopover in Queens, then traversed the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge to Manhattan, up First Avenue to the Bronx and back downtown to the finish line in Central Park.

Runners cross the marathon’s halfway mark coming off the Pulaski Bridge from Brooklyn to Queens on Nov. 7.Photo by Kevin Duggan

Regulars were delighted to see the iconic happening come back in full swing.

“Look at this, look at New York,” said Laura Dempsey, who traveled from Long Island to cheer on her 27-year-old nephew and first-time participant Dan Boley. “The excitement, the adrenaline of everybody running — I love it. I used to come every year since I was in my teens.”

Many more waited patiently to support friends or family, such as local mom Judy, whose kids Gavin and Juliana crafted a sign with the encouraging words, “Who runs this town? You.”

Young Long Island City marathon fans Gavin, 7, and Juliana, 6, cheer on the NYC Marathon runners in Long Island City.Photo by Kevin Duggan

“The kids were so excited to make a sign,” said Judy, who declined to give her last name. “It is nice to go back to normal.”

Another couple of locals came to boost their friends too.

“It is nice to see the community come together,” said Fernando Vergara, who watched the spectacle with his wife Catalina. “It’s like seeing the ball drop in Times Square, it is such a New York thing.”

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