The ING New York City Marathon is just five days away, and many people are probably thinking about their viewing strategies. The marathon website has different suggestions for watching the professional marathoners and friends and family. If you're cheering someone on, the ING NYC marathon suggests:

Mile 8 in Brooklyn , where the three starts converge, is a great place to catch runners looking fresh for photographs. A variety of subways can get you there: the C to Lafayette Avenue; the G to Fulton Street; the 2, 3, 4, or 5 to Nevins Street; or the B, D, N, Q, or R to Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street.

From here, you’ll have 90 minutes or more before your marathoner reaches Manhattan. You can use the time to sightsee, break for lunch, or try to view the scene on the Manhattan side of the Queensboro Bridge, at East 59th Street (mile 16). From mile 8, take the Manhattan-bound R from DeKalb, exit at 59th Street, and walk east to First Avenue. Be aware, however that unless you arrive early you probably won’t secure a decent viewing spot due to the masses assembled to greet the marathoners as they descend from the bridge. The applause is always thunderous and the scene unsurpassed for capturing the spirit of the day.

For less-obstructed viewing, head north to mile 18, on First Avenue at East 92nd Street, by taking uptown 4/5/6 subway to 86th Street and walking north and east. Your runner may be looking decidedly less fresh here than back in Brooklyn; the dreaded marathon “wall” typically occurs as marathoners run out of fuel between miles 18 and 22. After yelling encouragement and snapping pictures, walk west to catch your marathoner yet again, this time on Fifth Avenue in the 24th mile, just north of where runners enter Central Park .

After the race, expect your marathoner at Family Reunion about 30 minutes after their projected finish time.

Fourth Avenue in the Bronx, the Manhattan and Queens sides of the Queensboro Bridge, and First Avenue are very popular.

As for less crowded areas, we think it's less crowded the further out you go: Bay Ridge and Sunset Park in Brooklyn and the Bronx (the wall!), but that also means it will take longer to get out there and back in time. if you have suggestions for less crowded spots to watch marathoners, let us know. And veteran marathoners, if there are spots where you think more cheering is needed, tell us those also!

The MTA's spectator map (PDF) and the ING NYC Marathon's course map (PDF).

Photograph from last year's marathon by Tien Mao