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What Song Kicks Off Every NYC Marathon What Song Kicks Off Every NYC Marathon


What Song Kicks Off Every NYC Marathon

Get ready to race with the featured song that kicks off every NYC Marathon. Experience the energy and excitement of this iconic event through its unforgettable soundtrack.


Welcome to the electrifying atmosphere of the New York City Marathon, an event that captivates runners and spectators alike from all around the world. With its vibrant energy, fierce determination, and unparalleled sense of community, the NYC Marathon has become one of the most iconic road races in the world.

But there is one element of the marathon that holds a special place in the hearts of participants and fans: the starting song. Every year, as the crowd anxiously awaits the starting gun, a selected song blares through the loudspeakers, signaling the beginning of an unforgettable journey.

This tradition has become one of the defining features of the NYC Marathon experience. From the iconic melody that ignites excitement in the runners to the energetic rhythm that sets the tone for the entire race, the starting song serves as both a rallying point and a source of inspiration for all.

But why is the starting song so significant? What is the history behind this cherished tradition? In this article, we will delve into the evolution of the NYC Marathon starting song, explore the artists and songs that have graced this momentous occasion, and highlight some of the most incredible moments associated with this iconic race.

So join us as we take a journey through the history and significance of the starting song, and discover the role that music plays in making the NYC Marathon an unforgettable experience.


The Tradition of the NYC Marathon

The New York City Marathon has a long-standing tradition that dates back to 1970 when it first took place in Central Park with a mere 127 participants. Since then, it has grown into one of the largest marathons in the world, with over 50,000 runners participating each year.

One of the most cherished aspects of the NYC Marathon is its strong sense of community. The race brings together runners from all walks of life, united by their passion for running and determination to conquer the challenging 26.2-mile course that winds through the five boroughs of New York City.

At the heart of this tradition lies the marathon’s iconic starting line, where the energy is palpable and anticipation runs high. The starting line not only marks the beginning of the race but also symbolizes the culmination of months of training, dedication, and mental fortitude.

Since the early days of the marathon, there has been a deliberate effort to infuse the starting line with a sense of excitement and celebration. The organizers understood the power of music to evoke emotions and create a memorable experience for the runners. Thus, the tradition of playing a specific song as the race begins was born.

The selection of the starting song is a meticulous process, often involving input from race organizers, sponsors, and even the runners themselves. It is a decision that carries great responsibility, as the chosen song sets the tone for the entire race and becomes a part of the collective memory of all those who participate.

Over the years, the starting song has become a symbol of unity and inspiration. It serves as a reminder that, despite the diverse backgrounds and motivations of the runners, they are all embarking on a common journey—a test of their physical and mental endurance and an opportunity to push their limits.

As the runners gather at the starting line, the crowd buzzing with anticipation, the chosen starting song fills the air. Its pulsating rhythm and uplifting lyrics resonate with the runners, igniting a surge of adrenaline and motivation. In that moment, they are not alone in their quest; they are part of a larger community bonded by the shared love for running and the pursuit of personal achievements.

The tradition of the NYC Marathon starting song has become an integral part of the race’s identity. It encapsulates the spirit of the event, uniting runners and spectators in a harmonious celebration of athleticism and determination.


The Significance of the Starting Song

The starting song of the NYC Marathon holds immense significance for both the runners and the spectators. It serves as a powerful symbol of motivation, unity, and the shared experience of participating in this iconic race.

First and foremost, the starting song acts as a catalyst, rallying the runners and igniting their competitive spirit. As they gather at the starting line, the opening notes of the song electrify the atmosphere, signaling the beginning of their journey. It serves as a reminder that they are about to embark on a test of endurance, pushing their bodies to the limit.

Moreover, the starting song holds a deeper significance in the context of the marathon. It represents the culmination of months, or even years, of hard work and dedication. For many runners, the NYC Marathon is the pinnacle of their running careers, and the starting song marks the moment when their dreams become a reality.

In addition to motivating the runners, the starting song also unites the thousands of spectators who line the streets to cheer on the participants. The catchy rhythm and uplifting lyrics resonate with the crowd, creating a sense of community and shared excitement.

Furthermore, the starting song serves as a time capsule of memories. It instantly transports runners and spectators alike back to the specific moment when they were standing at the starting line, filled with anticipation, surrounded by the buzz of the crowd. Even years later, hearing that familiar melody can evoke a rush of emotions and memories associated with the race.

Another significant aspect of the starting song is its ability to inspire. The lyrics often convey messages of resilience, determination, and overcoming challenges, which are all attributes necessary for completing a marathon. As the runners begin their grueling journey, the words of the song resonate in their minds, serving as a source of encouragement and reminding them of their own strength.

Ultimately, the starting song encapsulates the spirit of the NYC Marathon. It embodies the passion, the camaraderie, and the relentless pursuit of personal goals. It serves as a unifying force, bringing together runners from all walks of life, united by the shared experience of running through the streets of New York City.

Whether it’s the uplifting melody, the inspiring lyrics, or the collective energy it generates, the starting song of the NYC Marathon carries a profound significance that goes beyond mere entertainment. It is a cherished tradition that adds depth and meaning to the race, contributing to the incredible experience that participants and spectators alike will remember for a lifetime.


The Evolution of the Starting Song

Over the years, the starting song of the NYC Marathon has undergone a fascinating evolution, reflecting the changing times, musical trends, and the diverse tastes of the participants and spectators.

In the early years of the marathon, the starting song was often a familiar tune that resonated with the runners and helped build excitement for the race ahead. Songs like “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra and “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys became iconic choices that encapsulated the spirit of the city and the marathon.

As the marathon grew in popularity and attracted a more diverse set of runners, the starting song evolved to include a wider range of genres and styles. From rock anthems to hip-hop beats, pop hits to classical compositions, the starting song began to reflect the eclectic tastes and backgrounds of the participants.

One notable change in recent years has been the inclusion of songs that carry a deeper message of unity, empowerment, and social justice. Reflecting the times and the growing movement for equality, songs like “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyoncé and “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman have become popular choices, inspiring runners to push past obstacles and embrace their true selves.

The evolving nature of the starting song is also evident in the collaborations between artists and brands. In recent years, several renowned musicians, including Taylor Swift and Alicia Keys, have been commissioned to create exclusive songs specifically for the NYC Marathon. These collaborations not only bring fresh energy and originality to the starting line but also showcase the marathon’s ability to connect with the music industry.

Another remarkable aspect of the evolution of the starting song is the integration of technology. With the advent of streaming platforms and digital music services, the starting song has become more accessible and customizable. Participants can create their own playlists, choosing the songs that inspire them and reflect their personal journeys. This enhancement has allowed for a more personalized and meaningful experience at the starting line.

Furthermore, advancements in audio production and sound systems have elevated the impact of the starting song. The clarity and power of the music played at the starting line creates an immersive experience for both runners and spectators, amplifying the energy and excitement of the moment.

The evolution of the starting song of the NYC Marathon is a testament to the ever-changing landscape of music and the dynamic nature of this iconic race. From timeless classics to contemporary hits, the starting song continues to evolve, ensuring that each year’s marathon is marked by a unique and memorable musical experience.


Artists and Songs Featured Throughout the Years

Throughout its long history, the NYC Marathon has featured a diverse array of artists and songs at its starting line, ensuring a vibrant and engaging experience for all involved.

In the early years of the marathon, classic tunes like “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra and “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor resonated with the runners, encapsulating the spirit of the city and the determination required to tackle the grueling course.

As the marathon grew in popularity, it started attracting renowned artists who contributed their talents to the event. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” became an anthem for runners, while Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” evoked a sense of pride for both the city and the marathon.

In more recent years, the starting line has seen an impressive lineup of musicians representing various genres and styles. Alicia Keys brought her soulful voice and empowering lyrics to the marathon with her performance of “Empire State of Mind” alongside Jay-Z, while Taylor Swift crafted an exclusive song titled “Welcome to New York” specifically for the race.

The NYC Marathon has also celebrated its international appeal by featuring songs from artists around the world. Shakira’s upbeat hit “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” brought a lively energy to the starting line, showcasing the global nature of the event.

Furthermore, the marathon has embraced diversity by incorporating songs that inspire and uplift. Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” became a powerful anthem that celebrated the strength and determination of female runners, while Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us” encouraged participants to break barriers and push their limits.

Aside from popular hits, the starting line has also welcomed classical compositions that evoke a sense of grandeur and significance. Beethoven’s stirring symphonies and Tchaikovsky’s powerful melodies have added a touch of elegance and timelessness to the marathon experience.

What makes the selection of artists and songs even more special is the input and feedback from the runners themselves. The NYC Marathon organizers actively seek input from participants, ensuring that the chosen music resonates with the diverse community of runners and reflects their collective spirit.

The variety of artists and songs featured throughout the years not only reflects the dynamism of the music industry but also adds to the overall ambiance and excitement of the NYC Marathon. With each new year, runners and spectators eagerly anticipate the announcement of the starting song, eagerly awaiting the artist who will leave their mark on this celebrated tradition.


Iconic Moments Associated with the NYC Marathon Starting Song

Throughout its storied history, the NYC Marathon starting song has been the backdrop for numerous memorable moments that have become iconic in the marathon’s lore.

One such moment occurred in 2001, just two months after the devastating events of 9/11. As the race began, the starting song, “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel, played, evoking a profound sense of resilience and unity. The song became an anthem of hope and a symbol of the city’s determination to rebuild and move forward.

In 2009, the starting song took on a unique twist when legendary musician and native New Yorker, Bruce Springsteen, made a surprise appearance. He performed his iconic song, “Born to Run,” live on the starting line, electrifying the crowd and setting an unforgettable tone for the race.

Another unforgettable moment came in 2011, when the starting song, “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys, perfectly captured the energy and spirit of New York City. As the runners crossed the starting line, the powerful lyrics and infectious melody echoed throughout the streets, inspiring both participants and spectators to embrace the city’s vibrant spirit.

Year after year, the starting song has also witnessed remarkable displays of athleticism and determination. In 2017, as “Welcome to New York” by Taylor Swift played, American runner Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman in 40 years to win the NYC Marathon, inspiring a new generation of female runners and leaving an indelible mark on the event.

Furthermore, the diversity and inclusivity of the NYC Marathon have been celebrated through the starting song. In 2018, the powerful anthem “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman became the soundtrack for the marathon, representing the theme of embracing one’s true self and celebrating individuality. It resonated with runners from all backgrounds, offering a message of acceptance and empowerment.

These iconic moments highlight the profound impact that the starting song has on the NYC Marathon experience. It serves as a catalyst for unity, resilience, and inspiration; a reminder of the extraordinary feats achieved on the streets of New York City each year.

Whether it’s a song that evokes the city’s spirit, an unexpected celebrity performance, or a monumental athletic achievement, the starting song has truly become a stage for unforgettable moments that will forever be etched in the memories of participants and spectators alike.


The Role of Music in the NYC Marathon Experience

Music plays a vital role in shaping the NYC Marathon experience, serving as a powerful catalyst for motivation, unity, and emotional connection among participants and spectators alike.

First and foremost, music has the remarkable ability to energize and motivate the runners. As they gather at the starting line, the pulsating beats, uplifting melodies, and inspiring lyrics of the starting song become a driving force, igniting a surge of adrenaline and determination. The rhythm of the music sets the pace and serves as a constant companion, pushing runners to summon the strength needed to conquer the grueling 26.2-mile course.

Music is also a unifying force, bringing together a diverse community of participants from around the world. Regardless of language or background, the universal language of music transcends barriers and creates a sense of camaraderie. The shared experience of hearing the same starting song resonates with runners, fostering a sense of connection and shared purpose.

In addition to its immediate impact on the runners, music also has a profound emotional impact on the spectators lining the race route. The energetic beats and uplifting melodies create a contagious enthusiasm that spreads through the crowd like wildfire. Spectators are inspired to cheer louder, clap harder, and support the runners with unwavering enthusiasm. The music creates an atmosphere of celebration, where strangers become cheerleaders, enlivening the race experience for all involved.

Moreover, music serves as a source of nostalgia and memory. The starting song becomes a time capsule, capturing the emotions and memories of each year’s marathon. Participants and spectators can recall the specific moments when the music played, the cheers of the crowd, and the determination etched on the runners’ faces. The connection between music and memory allows for a deep emotional bond to form, creating a lasting impression of the NYC Marathon.

Music also provides a welcome distraction from the physical challenges that accompany running a marathon. The familiar melodies and catchy tunes offer a temporary escape from the pain and fatigue, allowing runners to find their rhythm and push through the most difficult moments of the race.

Ultimately, the role of music in the NYC Marathon experience is multifaceted. It serves as a motivating force, a unifying factor, an emotional connection, and a source of distraction. The carefully chosen starting song sets the tone for the entire race, creating an electric atmosphere that resonates with runners and spectators alike.

Whether it’s the booming beats of a pulsating anthem, the empowering lyrics of a chart-topping hit, or the timeless melodies of a classic composition, music transcends its auditory form and becomes an integral part of the NYC Marathon journey—an experience that extends beyond the physical act of running to embody the spirit of resilience, camaraderie, and personal triumph.



The starting song of the NYC Marathon is more than just a pre-race soundtrack; it is a cherished tradition that has become an integral part of the marathon experience. From its humble beginnings in Central Park to its current status as one of the world’s most iconic road races, the NYC Marathon has captivated participants and spectators for decades.

The tradition of the starting song serves as a powerful symbol of motivation, unity, and the collective spirit of the marathon. It rallies the runners, evokes a sense of excitement, and ignites their competitive fire. It brings together a diverse community of participants from all backgrounds and instills a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose.

Throughout the years, the starting song has evolved alongside the changing musical landscape, adapting to reflect the tastes and preferences of the runners and spectators. It showcases a wide range of artists, genres, and styles, providing a dynamic and ever-evolving soundtrack for the marathon.

The starting song has also been witness to countless iconic moments, from emotionally-charged performances by legendary musicians to incredible athletic achievements. These moments have left an indelible mark on the marathon’s history and have become part of its legacy, inspiring future generations of runners to push their limits and achieve greatness.

Music plays a crucial role in the NYC Marathon experience, fueling the runners’ motivation, uniting the community, and creating lasting memories. It is the heartbeat that pulses through the streets of New York City, driving the participants forward and encouraging the spectators to cheer with passion and enthusiasm.

As the years go by and new starting songs become part of the marathon’s fabric, one thing remains constant: the power of music to inspire, uplift, and connect. It is an enduring tradition that brings joy, excitement, and a sense of purpose to all involved.

So, whether you’re a runner poised at the starting line, a spectator lining the race route, or a music lover tuning in from afar, embrace the spirit of the NYC Marathon starting song and let its energy carry you along on an unforgettable journey.