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Where to watch the Long Island Marathon

Crowds line the finish line at the 2011

Crowds line the finish line at the 2011 Long Island Marathon. This year's race is set for Sunday, May 1. Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

The Long Island Marathon has been a Nassau County staple since the early '70s. Known as the "people's race," the event draws both highly competitive runners and those who just want to challenge themselves.

One of the key elements to keeping the runners motivated is the energy coming from the crowd.

"The spectators do more for the runners than the runners do for the spectators. They really appreciate having people out there clapping, cheering and smiling. It keeps them going," says marathon director Jason Lipset. A half-marathon and 10k race will run at the same time.

Best viewing locations:

1. Merrick Avenue north of Stewart Avenue (MILE MARK 3)

Spectators can catch the first hour of the race from this location, where there's a DJ, then walk over to the finish line at Eisenhower Park.


2. Post and Maple avenues, Westbury (MILE MARK 5.5)

Viewers can get in through the side streets, park along the side, watch the race and listen to a live band. This location puts onlookers right in the heart of Westbury, where there are places to eat and shop.


3. Brush Hollow Road, Westbury (MILE MARK 8)

Jericho Turnpike doesn't close down on the north side, therefore you can get over to see the runners early on in this wide-open area and still have time to catch them at the finish line in Eisenhower Park. Parking can be found on Cantiague Rock Road and along the side streets. A band will be playing at nearby Zanio's Nursery.


4. Old Country Road and Wantagh Parkway (MILE MARK 10)

This is where full-marathoners and half-marathoners split off on their own courses. Every runner will pass through this viewing area at least once (full-marathoners twice). Parking can be found on Old Country Road and its side streets. There is easy access, allowing spectators to come and go. There will be a DJ at this location.


5. Wantagh Parkway and Hempstead Turnpike (MILE MARK 12.5)

You'll see runners participating in only the full marathon at this location, but there will be a DJ, and it's easily accessible with parking available on Hempstead Turnpike.


6. Wantagh Parkway and Sunrise Highway (MILE MARK 16.5)

This is the turn-around point at the southernmost part of the course for runners participating in the full marathon. Here you'll find some classic cars and a DJ playing '50s and '60s music. Parking is available off Sunrise Highway and you can walk onto the Wantagh Parkway.


7. Eisenhower Park, East Meadow (MILE MARK 26.2)

The finish line is halfway through the park, directly across from parking Field 5. Runners arrive to a festive atmosphere with live music and an awards ceremony. Spectators will want to arrive early to stake out the best viewing spot to see their racer cross the finish line.

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