How to Enter The New York City Marathon

There are several different ways to reserve a spot in the race
New York Road Runners

So, you want to run the New York City Marathon? If you’re unfamiliar with the race’s somewhat complicated and ultra-exclusive application process then you’ll want to take few moments to learn about the different ways you can earn your bib.

That’s right. Runners must earn their entry into this highly sought after race. After all, it’s considered one of the most iconic marathons in the entire world. If New York Road Runners accepted every athlete vying for a shot to run 26.2 miles through the five boroughs of New York City each year, well let’s just say there definitely wouldn’t be enough space or resources to accommodate all of them.

That’s why the organization has established an application process that provides runners with a few different options for earning entry. Here are the different ways you can go about claiming a highly-coveted spot in this epic and exhilarating road race.

Through Guaranteed Entry
As of 2014, there are several different ways to earn guaranteed entry into the NYC Marathon.

  • Complete the 9+1 or 9+$1K program. This applies to New York Road Runner members who complete nine scored, qualifying races and volunteered at one NYRR event or donated $1,000 to NYRR’s Youth and Community Services programs in the year leading up to the following NYC Marathon event.
  • Meet a qualifying time standard in a NYRR race between January 1 and December 31 in the year leading up to the following NYC Marathon event. (For more details about this method and a list of qualifying times click here.)
  • Complete 15 previous NYC Marathons. (Note: This form of guaranteed entry will only continue to be available to runners who finish their fifteenth NYC Marathon before 2016.)
  • Runners who were denied entry through the lottery drawings (see non-guaranteed entry methods below) three times in a row for 2011, 2012, and 2013 will receive guaranteed entry; however 2014 is the final year that NYC Marathon entry will be offered through this arrangement.  

Earning guaranteed entry through one of these methods does not automatically secure your spot in the race. When the race application opens (usually in January) runners who’ve completed one of the above provisions must officially reserve their spot by filling out the race entry form online and paying the race entry fee before a given deadline (usually in mid-March).

Through Non-Guaranteed Entry
Runners who have not achieved guaranteed entry but wish to run the race can apply online for spot through a lottery drawing. The lottery drawing includes three different categories and entrants are selected through random drawings from each applicant pool. The three categories include:

  • NYC-metro area applicants (residents in and within 60 miles of New York City)
  • National applications (U.S. residents outside of the tri-state area)
  • International applicants (non-U.S. residents including Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories)

Because the total number of available spots isn’t known until after the guaranteed entry deadline the lottery drawing is typically held several days after the deadline date. Applying for a non-guaranteed spot requires an $11 non-refundable application fee and applicants will automatically be charged for the race entry fee if their entry is selected.

Through Charity
Runners can earn a guaranteed spot in the NYC Marathon by raising money for one of the race’s 25 official charity partners. NYRR offers four different levels of charity partners (gold, bronze, silver and community), each of which provide runners with a variety of race bonuses like training plans, coaches, and nutrition clinics.

Fundraising commitments and deadlines differ for each charity team. Click here to browse the charity list and read more about how to apply through this method.

Apply as an Athlete with a Disability or a Guide
Athletes with disabilities are eligible to apply for entry into the NYC Marathon through the non-guaranteed entry drawing mentioned above. Disabled athletes who require a guide are required to register their guide through Achilles International. Guides are permitted to accompany the disabled athlete but cannot push a wheelchair or handcycle through the course.

Special requirements apply for handcycle athletes who wish to apply for entry into the marathon.

Runners who wish to volunteer through Achilles International can apply through the organization to run as a guide.

Apply as an International Athlete
Runners who reside outside of the U.S. can claim guaranteed entry into the race by purchasing a marathon package through one of NYRR’s official International Travel Partners. If there is no official ITP associated with your country you are permitted to purchase a package from another country’s ITP. (For more information on applying as an international athlete click here.)