NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The St. Patrick’s Day Parade won’t be the only event shutting down city streets this weekend. The New York City Half Marathon is Sunday.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond On The Story

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For the first time, the race will be televised and the field has grown from 10,000 to 15,000 runners.

“I like to say there’s nothing half about the New York City Half Marathon. It’s a big deal. It’s a big deal to run 13.1 miles,” said race director Mary Wittenberg. “For athletes, it’s the most prestigious half marathon, I would say, I would argue, in the world right now.”

She has lined up Olympics-bound runners, including Kara Goucher from Queens, who echoed Wittenberg’s sentiment.

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“New York really has a strong hold on prestige, and I think that this half marathon has now become that. I mean this is really the half marathon to do,” Goucher told WCBS 880 reporter Marla Diamond, who has run the New York City Marathon while reporting live on the radio.

The half marathon’s highlight is mile seven, when the race cuts through a traffic-free Times Square.

“When they shut down the streets and you’re rolling through Times Square and through Central Park and you’re not dodging traffic and cars and cabs and bikes ane everything else that can get in your way, it’s pretty cool,” said Julie Culley of Clifton, who is taking on the distance for the first time.

The New York City Half Marathon starts in Central Park near West 64th Street and ends at the South Street Seaport.

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