There’s a reason New Yorkers call the first Sunday in November the best day of the year. The New York City Marathon and the vibe it brings to each and every neighborhood is exhilarating, heartwarming, and downright magical.
For one day only, it feels as though the entire city is united in a common cause: Cheering on some 50,000 runners across 26.2 miles and all five boroughs. Whether you’re shouting from the stoops of Brooklyn, ringing bells in the streets of Queens, woo-ing from the last bridge in the Bronx, or lining the final stretch in Central Park—there’s a street party everywhere, and you’ve been invited.
But it’s the individual moments that set this marathon apart: The friends and family who are eagerly awaiting the appearance of their loved one (and then the hugging and high-fiving and screaming when they finally run by); the countless handmade signs, made by people who don’t know a single runner, that range from sweet to hilarious to profane; the little kids who are in awe of the athletes they are watching. It’s the joy and inspiration that the race incites in everyone who participates, whether they’re running or spectating.
This year, SELF sent photographer Jon Pack to cover the race in Brooklyn; below you’ll find some of our favorite moments from this year’s marathon that brought out the best of NYC.