Qualifying for the NYC Marathon through 9+1

This year I decided to try to qualify for the NYC Marathon through the 9+1 program.

The 9+1 program is a way to qualify for non-complimentary entry to the marathon by running 9 NYRR races and volunteering at one. Apart from 9+1, it’s also possible to qualify on time, by raising ~$2,500 for a charity, or by winning the lottery. Having lost the lottery twice and qualifying on time not being feasible for me 🙂 , I settled for the 9+1 option.

Races ran

JanNYRR Joe Kleinerman 10K10 km (6.2 miles)35$
JanNYRR Fred Lebow Half-Marathon21.1 km (13.1 miles)35$
FebNYRR Manhattan 10K (volunteered)
FebNYRR Gridiron 4m6.4 km (4 miles)25$
FebNYRR Al Gordon 4m6.4 km (4 miles)25$
MarNYRR Washington Heights Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5k6.4 km (4 miles)30$
AprilRBC Race for the Kids 4m6.4 km (4 miles)25$
MayRBC Brooklyn Half21.1 km (13.1 miles)90$
MayVirtual NYRR Global Running Day 5k5 km (3.1 miles)25$
JuneFront Runners New York LGBT Pride Run6.4 km (4 miles)25$

Total cost

Total total cost for the races was 315$. The required annual NYRR membership is 40$. Signing up for the 2023 NYC Marathon will be ~255$, which brings the total to ~610$. I think it’s well worth it for the value you’re getting (the races themselves, gear, post-race bagel). It’s also a great way to stay motivated to run.

Best races

All races were really well run by NYRR. I liked the Joe Kleinerman and the Brooklyn Half races the best.

I loved Kleinerman since it was a race I prepared for several months in advance, which made the race feel special. Since it takes place in January it was pretty cold, but I like that much better than the summer races. It also stands out for being a 10K. Since NYRR offers so many 4 mile races they stand out less.

Central Park after the 10K Kleinerman run

The Brooklyn Half stood out because it was the only NYRR “flagship” race ran. Because it was a flagship the roads were closed. The race goes around Prospect Park and then down to Cony Island. Having never been to Cony Island before, it was a cool experience to run there. I got placed in a corral that was way faster than I could manage so the race was quite tough, but it was still very memorable.

The very long, straight path to Cony Island in 20+ Celsius heat and 80%+ humidity

9+1 Learnings

  • Book races well in advance as they definitely sell out. I booked most races around two months in advance. For the NYRR Manhattan 10K I tried to book a couple weeks in advance but it was sold out so I had to volunteer for that one.
  • Review the NYC race calendar as it updates maybe once per month with new races. There was a virtual race in the beginning of the year with a 9+1 credit that I missed because I wasn’t paying attention.
  • Since most races are in Central Park and require a bib pickup at the NYRR Runcenter at 57th street, living close to Central Park really helps.
  • For the January and February races: dress for that you’re going to have to stand still in a corral for ~20 min. Especially the Joe Kleinerman was pretty rough with below freezing before the race. Once you start running it’s fine.
  • There are female-only races like Shape or Manhattan Mini that you can’t run as a man, but you can still volunteer so those can be great volunteer opportunities.
  • The virtual races only make sense as a 9+1 credit. It’s much more fun to run the in-person races.
  • It’s definitely possible to complete the program in the first half of the year. I tried completing it as quickly as possible to minimize the risk that I’d lose interest over time, but I was out of town for some races. It’s probably possible to finish in May if you hit every 9+1-eligible race.
  • Never bring a bag if you can help it. Bag check is usually a long line. They force you to put everything in a transparent plastic bag that can be picked up in the run center or on-site at the race day.
  • Always pick up your bib in advance if you can. Usually there are long lines to get the bib on race day. Getting an extra hour to sleep is definitely work the hour spent picking up the bib in advance.
  • You can be pretty late and they will still let you run. It usually takes at least 10 min to get all the corrals past the starting line. And from what I understand they let you start a bit even after the last corral has started. For a couple races I arrived at the corral at starting time and was still able to run.
  • The r/RunNYC subreddit is really helpful to learn from other runners doing the program.


I would definitely recommend doing the 9+1. It kept me running consistently for six months and now I have a cool race to look forward to. Since so many people are doing the program, it’s also a great opportunity to meet other people.

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