How to track runners at the New York City Marathon 2023

a photo of runners at the New York City Marathon
(Image credit: Getty Images/Anadolu Agency / Contributor)

If you're cheering for a friend or family member at the New York City Marathon on Sunday, you'll want to be able to track their progress during the race. Not only does this let you know how they're getting on, but it also helps you spot them in the crowd on the course. Ready to get tracking? Read on to find out the best ways to do so. 

The 2023 New York City Marathon takes place on Sunday, November 5. The 26.2-mile course takes runners from Staten Island, through New York’s five boroughs, finishing in Central Park in Manhattan (Inspired? Here's how long it takes the average person to run a marathon).

The New York City Marathon starts at 8:00 a.m. ET with the wheelchair division. The handcycle category gets going at 8:20 a.m., then the elite women at 8:40 a.m., the elite men at 9:05 a.m. and the mass-participation waves from 9:10 a.m. This year there are five waves of mass participation runners, with wave one setting off at 9:10 am and wave five at 11.30 a.m. The waves are based on the runner’s projected finish time, so it’s a good idea to check with your runner which wave they are in to get a better idea of when to start tracking them. Here's how to watch the NYC Marathon, if you want to catch all of the action.

How to track mass-participation runners at the New York City Marathon 

The easiest way to track mass-participation runners in the New York City Marathon 2023 is to download the official app, which is free on Android and iOS. All of the runners on the course will be wearing a race number, which has a chip in, allowing you to track their exact location on the course. This year, there will be a live feed of five locations on the course, so you'll be able to watch your runner cross the start and finish line, as well as Mile 8 in Brooklyn, Mile 17 in the Upper East Side and Mile 20 in the Bronx.

To track a runner, simply head to the tracking section of the app ‘tracking’ section of the app, where you will be able to search for them by name, or bib number. There is no limit to the number of spectators tracking one runner, so get the whole family involved. 

To add a runner, click the plus (+) symbol above their bib number. It will then display a tick if you have added the runner successfully. On Sunday, you will be able to see your runner’s live progress on the course. The tracking will capture your runner's time every 5K, halfway, and when they cross the finish line. 

From the app, you’ll be able to see your runner’s pace and splits, their expected finish time, and their expected finish time of day, based on when they started running. You’ll also be able to share the live tracking with family and friends and pre-order race photos (a great holiday gift idea). 

The app also has a number of other extras to keep you entertained on race day, including elite runner profiles, an interactive map, and weather updates. If you accidentally add the wrong runner to your tracking, you can swipe left to delete them. 

If you don't want to clutter your phone with apps, runner tracking is also available online at You can also watch the race on TV to try and spot your runner in action. Local coverage starts from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET on WABC-TV, Channel 7. 

Other ways to track New York City Marathon runners 

There's one drawback of the official NYC Marathon app — with thousands of people using it on race day, it can sometimes be a little glitchy. There are other ways out there to track your runner, both by their running watch or fitness tracker and with certain running apps. 

Firstly, if your runner is wearing a Garmin running watch, and carrying their smartphone, they can turn on Live Track via their Garmin Connect app on their phone. This allows runners to share their live location with friends and family via email, Facebook, or Twitter. The downside here is that it also relies on a phone GPS signal, so might be temperamental on race day and won't be an option for runners leaving their phone in their kit bag. The Garmin Forerunner 255 also has live tracking, and can relay a runner's position without needing a phone.

If your runner has an Apple Watch SE or an Apple Watch Series 3 or later, they will be able to share their live location with you before setting off. To do this, they'll need to add you in the Find People app on the Apple Watch and tap share my location. Once they've chosen you as a friend, you'll be able to see their location for one hour, until the end of the day, or indefinitely (depending on which option they chose - we'd recommend the middle one). This too will require them to carry a smartphone with them, unless they have a cellular version of Apple's Watch. 

Another app that works with most modern Garmin running watches and Apple Watches newer than the Apple Watch Series 3 is Strava Beacon. Strava Beacon allows runners to send a live tracking link to three different contacts. This is usually a safety feature on the app but comes in handy on race day — check out our full Strava app review here.

The best way to get around the city as a spectator

We don't need to tell you that the city is bound to be busy on marathon day. The easiest way to get around is to use the Subway. Maps are readily available online, and in each station itself. It's better to avoid the bus or car on race day, as the roads will be closed during the race. 

If you're looking for a faster way to whizz around the city, you might want to grab a Citi Bike, which are easy to rent and hop on and off. That said, please remember you will have to also content with road closures. 

What to pack to watch the New York City Marathon 

Sure, it's not as hard as running the race itself, but spectating a marathon is no walk in the park. Here are five things we recommend packing before you head out to spot your runner: 

Layers: The chances are you'll be standing around outside for a good number of hours on race day, so packing layers is essential. The weather on Sunday looks bright and mild, but you'll want to make sure you have different options. 

Comfortable shoes: Again, you'll be standing on your feet for a good few hours on race day, and probably walking to multiple different cheer points on the course, so comfortable shoes are essential.

A banner/something bright: Unless you've pre-arranged a spot with your runner, it can be tricky for them to spot you in a crowd of spectators. If you want to make sure they see you, why not get creative and make a banner? 

A cowbell: It might not make you the most popular person in the crowd, but runners love the noise as they run! 

Snacks and water: Why not pack extra, as if you do spot your runner, they might appreciate a sip of water! 

Who is running the elite race in the New York City Marathon 2023?

Whether you're watching on the streets or from your couch, the stage is set for an exciting elite race at the 2023 New York City Marathon. In the women's race, reigning Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir, taking on Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey, Kenya’s Hellen Obiri and former marathon world record holder, Brigid Kosgei.

In the men's field, Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola is taking on the 26.2 race, after finishing third in the London Marathon 2023. Tola will take on Shura Kitata, who has twice finished as runner-up in NYC but never won. 

What celebrities are running the New York City Marathon 2023?

If you're using the New York City Marathon as a chance to celeb-spot, here's some famous faces you might see on the way round: 

Matt James: The star of season 25 of The Bachelor, will be running the race for the second consecutive year. Last year he finished in 3:46:45.

Nev Schulman: The host and producer of MTV's Catfish will be crossing the start line of his seventh New York City Marathon. Impressive.

Luke Macfarlane: The actor is most well known for his role in Brothers and Sisters, and will be taking on the marathon for the first time. 

Sheinelle Jones: The TODAY correspondent will be running her first-ever marathon on Sunday. 

Patina Miller: The Tony award-winning actress who starred in the Hunger Games films will be singing the national anthem on the start line of the NYC Marathon, before running the 26.2 miles herself. No pressure. 

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Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.