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The Plumbing Challenges of the New York City Marathon

The New York City Marathon, an annual event that runs through the city’s five boroughs, is the world’s largest marathon with about 50,000 finishers per year. Organized by the New York Road Runners Club, the New York City Marathon has been running since 1970, except in 2012 when it was cancelled due to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. It is held the first Sunday in November. This year, it will fall on November 6.


(Pixabay / Unsplash)

The Numbers

The New York City Marathon has come a long way since its inception in 1970 with just 127 entrants running laps around Central Park. Now the race starts at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, passes through the five boroughs, and ends outside Tavern on the Green in Central Park.

In recent years, the New York City Marathon has hosted entrants from 130 different countries, making it a truly international event. Race participants from the U.S. pay a $255 fee while foreign entries pay $347. Each runner can raise up to $2,500 from charities for a guaranteed spot in the race. Guaranteed spots are also reserved for runners who have completed 15 previous New York City Marathons or who meet time qualifications. Otherwise, runners can enter the race through a lottery by paying $11. About 80,000 people paid the lottery fee but more than 80 percent of them were rejected without getting their money back.

New York City is a sea of humanity on marathon day. In 2015, an estimated quarter million people visited New York City during the race week. With more than 50,000 runners plus race officials and volunteers and roughly 2 million spectators, the city is literally overflowing with people.

Logistical Feat

The logistics of organizing the race are daunting, but the New York Road Runners Club, with the help of the New York City government agencies, private sponsors, and volunteers, have the process down to a slick science. They are well-versed in setting up medical tents and refreshment stations for the runners.

Plumbing is another feat. There are more than 1,700 toilets at the starting point in Staten Island. Toilets are located along the race route every mile after the third mile from the starting line. The New York Road Runners Club reported that there are 2,450 portable toilets available for race participants. Portable toilets are for registered runners only. The city government and private businesses help provide bathrooms for the millions of spectators.