Skyscrapers, Central Park and more than 50,000 runners make the TCS New York City Marathon one of our favorite races to provide race timing for. Now, we know some people may wonder: how do so many people manage to drag themselves out of bed at five in the morning to run 26.2 miles? It’s easy to think that runners must be out-of-their-mind masochists, but the powerful presence of running in human culture suggests something different.

Running has long been the most popular exercise in the country and at least 600 marathons are held in the United States each year. In October alone, 82,462 Americans ran 123 marathons – that’s a combined total of 2,160,504 miles! The 50,000+ contenders competing in the TCS NYC Marathon this weekend come from 139 countries and all 50 states; they include first-timers and marathon veterans, 18 and 80-year-olds, and famous faces like Ethan Hawke and Alicia Keys. As the largest marathon in the world, the TCS NYC Marathon is the ultimate testament to running’s universal appeal.

So what is the appeal? In prepping for timing the race this weekend, we came up with a few answers to consider if you want to plan a race someday:

The Obvious

Health! Everyone knows running or jogging regularly can help one maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and strengthen your lungs, legs, knees, and joints. And just as everyone knows the benefits of running, anyone can do it! No gym, equipment, or experience necessary.

Ooh! I Feel Good

Running is a great opportunity to channel your inner James Brown. While achy legs and early alarm clocks may not sound so great, any runner will tell you it’s worth it in the end. Running releases the “happy chemical” dopamine (responsible for the famous “runner’s high”) and has been proven to reduce stress, improve self-esteem, decrease the risks of depression, and protect against degenerative cognitive diseases. In short, running makes you feel awesome, inside and out!

Race to Raise

Almost every race, big or small, offers a chance to raise money for charity. There’s the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, ZERO’s Mustache Dache, and hundreds of community 5ks across the country. The TCS NYC Marathon is no exception. In 2011, it raised a whopping $34 million for 190 non-profits! With so many charities to choose from, it’s easy to find a cause close to heart and even easier to keep moving.

Personal Pride

NYC marathon_finish line_ChronoTrack timing matsCompleting a marathon is something many people never thought possible for themselves; simply crossing the finish line is an achievement. This is why so many marathon runners aren’t actually racing to win, rather, they’re only competing with themselves for a new personal best. It’s not about the bragging rights (though let’s be honest, it does sound pretty cool to say you completed a marathon that isn’t related to Netflix), it’s about trying to be the best you can be and pushing oneself further than ever imagined.

Community Comradery

It’s incredible that 50,000 people will run the TCS NYC Marathon this year; even more incredible is that over one million people will gather along the course to cheer them on and even more will watch Runner supportfrom home. The number of runners, spectators, volunteers, staff, and organizational partners that come together to create such an event is unbelievable! As the TCS NYC Marathon’s website states, it is a “celebration of New York, its Marathoners, and their fans and families.” This is perhaps one of the biggest appeals of racing: whether it’s running through the Big Apple with 49,999 other people or just through town with your neighbors, it’s impossible to not feel as if you are part of something bigger.


Of course, everyone has their own reasons for racing (did someone say pasta dinner?). This is great news for race directors: if you’re wondering how to organize a marathon or promote a race, you don’t have to just focus on the hardcore runners. As the TCS NYC Marathon shows, almost anyone can find a connection to running!

Beginners and experts alike can find more running inspiration in the stories of this year’s NYC Marathon runners and tune in this Sunday, November 6th to see the marathon spirit in action and watch for the ChronoTrack blue and orange mats at the finish!