Tens of thousands will hit the city streets this weekend, greeted by a throng of enthusiastic Big Apple residents all the way from Staten Island to Central Park, at the 45th annual New York City Marathon.
Organizers found a way to make an iconic part of NYC life seem even more so this year, by naming Brooklyn’s own Spike Lee as the very first New Yorker to serve as grand marshal when the race kicks off on Sunday morning.
Lee said he “was very honored to be a part of this,” at a Central Park news conference kicking off the race Thursday.
Peter Ciaccia of the New York Road Runners, who serves as the race director, said completing the 26.2 mile challenge requires a unique combination of iron determination and love for the city.
“This is the best of the best. This is a race of champions that we are putting on,” he said in Central Park.
The race begins on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge before going though many western Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Bay Ridge, Park Slope and Williamsburg.
The course then winds through Long Island City before taking the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge to the East Side.
From there, it heads north on First Avenue, enters the Bronx via the Willis Avenue Bridge and returns to Manhattan on the Madison Avenue Bridge. After runners head south on Fifth Avenue, they finish in Central Park.
About 50,000 participants are slated to run in this year’s marathon, but all eyes are on Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany, the respective men and women champions last year.
Celebrities running include Ethan Hawke, Alicia Keys, Tiki Barber and James Blake.
The National Weather Service predicts skies will be cloudy Sunday morning with a high of 62 degrees.
Security will also be tight along the route, with 1,866 patrol officers, 14,000 street barriers and other measures to protect both the runners and spectators.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he is confident in his officers because of their history in managing the marathon.
“It’s an event where we’ve historically had very little issues,” Bratton said on Thursday.