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5 Tips to Survive the Pre-NYC Marathon Wait at Fort Wadsworth

Race day is finally here! You’ve powered through the weeks and weeks of training, you’ve tapered, you’ve properly fueled your body in the past few days leading up to the ING New York City Marathon. You’re ready to get this party started.

And now we wait. For awhile.

Marathon organizers have the daunting task of transporting 48,000 runners to Staten Island for the start, which means chances are high that you’ll be waiting in the start village at Fort Wadsworth. No worries; just come prepared.

Here are five tips to survive the pre-NYC Marathon wait at Fort Wadsworth:

Dress In Layers
The temperature in November can be variable — and it’s typically much colder eaaaarly in the morning during the hours you’ll be waiting at the start — so wear layers. Pick up warm, cheap clothes that you don’t care about discarding before the race: sweatpants, sweatshirt, hat, gloves, scarf, raincoat (people have been known to wear a Snuggie. You want to laugh, but it was genius!). Water-repellant items are a plus, just in case. Pack a couple of garbage bags, one to wear like a poncho and another to put on the ground in case it’s wet. They’re easy to transport, and they work like a charm in a pinch.

It’s probably not a bad idea to bring a towel or small blanket to lie down on in the village. A piece of cardboard also does the trick. Fort Wadsworth is basically a huge field that progressively gets more and more packed as runners arrive. It’s open and exposed, so there’s no cover from the elements.

Relax! Kick Off Your Shoes & Put Your Feet Up
Resist the temptation to walk around and check things out; it’s best to pick a spot, sit down, and relax. You can bring something to read, or maybe even create a playlist of music to chill out and listen to. This is oftentimes when pre-race jitters really begin to settle in, so don’t be surprised if your anxiety level starts to increase during this waiting period. Use the opportunity to visualize your race — most importantly the exhilaration of crossing the finish line. Think about how far you’ve come in your training; you can do this! You’ve been doing it week-in and week-out in training. Stay positive; at this point, the key to success is staying strong mentally.

Fuel Your Body
Of utmost importance is nutrition. Plan your food needs in advance and pack snacks accordingly. You’ve probably heard people repeat the phrase, “Nothing new on race day” many times at this point — and it’s true! Only eat and drink what you’ve been eating and drinking before your long runs (don’t go grab all of the free food marathon sponsors put out in the start village just because it’s free).

A Team in Training marathon coach talks about pre-race nutrition in terms of “first” and “second” breakfast; eat a little something after you wake up/before you leave (small “first breakfast”) and then a little something more (small “second breakfast”) at least 1.5-2 hours before your race start. This way you’ll both be fueled and your food digested before the race.

Stay Hydrated
Bring a big bottle of water with you on the Staten Island Ferry, and make sure you drink all of it while you’re waiting. There are toilets all around the start village, and you should have plenty of time to take care of business before the start. Remember: if you drink coffee, be sure to replace those fluids with extra water to stay fully hydrated.

Stay Loose
Since you could potentially be sitting for a few hours, it’s a good idea to get up periodically and move around. Do a few three-dimensional stretches to warm up, increase circulation, and keep you from getting stiff. Give yourself plenty of time to get in the corrals. The “butterflies” in your stomach are inevitable – but keep smiling, take it all in, and enjoy the moment. You’ve worked hard to get to the start line.

What are your Fort Wadsworth survival tips? Let us know in the comments!

1 comment

  1. SteveJuly 20, 2016

    Nice Article.

    I hit the lottery back in March and am now working on getting as many details as I can for Race Day.

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