Bring some. Chances are you are already in the habit of keeping some cash on you for longs runs—especially if you live and train in the city. But it's a good idea to keep some cash on hand on race day as well. Here's why: Even though the marathon organizers are making a big deal this year of creating a friends and family area to facilitate a speedier exit from the park, there will likely still be a wait between when you finish the race and when you get out of the park. And by “wait,” I mean “be stuck in a long cordoned off path you have to plod through with crowds of other exhausted runners that will eventually dump you onto Central Park West.”
If you live here and you are under the impression you can cross the finish line and simply walk out of the park, think again. It's like trying to exit MetLife stadium after a Jets game. Slow. Except, instead of being drunk and full of pretzels and beer, you will have just run 26 miles and every muscle in your body will be in revolt. Once you are out of the park, and depending on where you have planned to meet people, you'll have to walk across Central Park West (closed to traffic, which means no cabs) all the way over to Columbus or Amsterdam. Last year, the MTA (with typical forethought) was not running any of the red lines to Brooklyn. Traffic was a mess due to marathon road closures. The sun was setting, and the energy bar I received with my finish bag was long gone. When I stumbled into a pizza joint on Columbus, I was never so grateful for anything as I was for the sweaty five dollar bill I had stuffed in my side pocket (though the cashier looked somewhat less so). On the upside, the silver capes they give you to keep you warm when you finish really do work.