Can You Change Corrals When You Run the New York City Marathon?

The New York City marathon technically has 3 starts, which do not converge for about 8 miles. These starts are assigned colors which correspond to the race map. The green start is to the left and gets a nice tour of Brooklyn, the orange start is in the center and goes to the left side of the Verazano-Narrows Bridge, and the blue start begins all the way to the right and proceeds up the right side of the bridge.

The orange start is reserved for the 9000 fastest women. The corrals flip flop in order of expected finishing time between the blue and green starts. According to my race number when I ran the race, I was supposed to line up at the front of the green start just behind the local competitive men. My friend that I was going to pace was supposed to start a couple corrals back on the blue side.

Depending upon where you look on the New York City website, there are different rules about where you can and can not start if you want to run with somebody else. The frequently asked questions page describes a process that requires you to move to a corral for bibs numbered 18,000 or higher if you want to change corrals, unless your bib is already higher than that in which case you can start in the corral that is furthest back from the start among the group that wants to run together.

Thankfully, that’s not the actual rule. After discussing the matter with the race directors, here is the official word that was handed down:

If you want to run with another person but are assigned different corrals, you may do so. You must go to the corral that is further back of the two, however, and if you are male you may not start in the any of the orange corrals that are specified for women only under any circumstances. You are allowed to change colors if you wish as long as you are in a slower starting corral than you are assigned.

From what I’ve noticed, the corrals are not very closely policed anyway. When my friend and I ran, we actually started 4 or 5 corrals further back than we were entitled to, which helped us to go out in the slow pace we were looking for early in the race. There were a lot of people ahead of us that shouldn’t have been, but we didn’t mind.

My advice is to head to the starting line with your friends, and choose whichever corral is going to go go over the top level of the bridge that you are all allowed to start in.