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, I am supposed to start at the front of the green start just behind the local competitive men. My friend that I am supposed to pace is supposed to start a couple corrals back on the blue side.

I am not sure if I will be allowed to start with him or not. The page that describes how the corral system works states that I am allowed to start with him as long as I am moving back from where my starting number would normally be.

Entrants who are assigned to different corrals but wish to start together may do so. Go to the corral corresponding to the number of the runner with the higher bib number. Please note: Men may not run in any of the “F” orange corrals regardless of number.

However, their frequently asked questions and the informational booklet that they sent out a few months ago state that we would have to move to a corral that is numbered 18000 or higher. That would mean that there would be approximately 24-26,000 people in front of us that plan on running the race slower than us.

My friend has an Orange number and I have a Blue number. Can we start together?
Yes, entrants who are assigned to different corrals or colors but wish to start together may do so. If your numbers are 18,000 or higher (both male and female), go to the corral corresponding to the higher number. If your numbers are below 18,000, go to any corral higher than 18,000.

I never received word from the race directors about which is accurate, so I will not know where I am actually going to start until I get to the expo and round up somebody to ask. My guess is that for safety reasons that the page about the starting corrals is accurate and that I can move into my friend’s corral without any trouble. I was hoping to have a more definitive answer before I left for New York, but this is what I know right now.

Update: You can in fact move into any corral that has a higher number than yours, and you can even change colors. I was able to start with my friend in his corral; actually, we started a few corrals back since we were waiting in line for a john when they opened the line up.