Marshaling: Not just a spectator sport

If you’ve ridden a Central Park CRCA race, you’ve probably heard whistles being blown by marshals. As a CRCA member, you’ve probably been one of those marshals yourself.


Every race, we have 45 marshals lining the Central Park roadway to keep our racers and other park users safe. We race at dawn (when your average human is still probably asleep), but avid dog owners love to take advantage of the no-leash policy in the park before 9 am, and runners, cyclists, and early risers also frequent the park during the wee hours of the morning. 

If we don’t have enough marshals to keep an eye on the roadway, ensuring nothing passes in front of the peloton, we can’t race. Full stop. That’s why it’s crucial for all members to share the marshalling duty. If we don’t have quorum before a race, we ask for volunteers from the racing pool (these volunteers come from the teams whose assigned marshals were no-shows.) Luckily, our club members are awesome and in these instances, there’s always someone willing to step in and help round out our numbers to keep the race safe. Without us, there is no race, and that means both marshals and racers alike.

Marshaling, at its core, entails blowing a whistle to signal a peloton is passing and making sure any other park users are well out of the way before that moment comes. But the job doesn’t just happen when the fields are going by: people often stop and ask questions about what’s going on and what we do. It’s a great opportunity to bring more people into the world of cycling, if only for a moment, and to connect with in the park who share this space with us. 

Safety is absolutely crucial to ensure we can keep having park races, and so missing marshaling duty comes with some steep penalties. Not only do your fellow team members have to fill in when another on their roster misses marshaling, but the no-show marshal is immediately suspended from racing. Teams who have suspended racers cannot accumulate Team Cup or Boyd Cup points. If two members of the same team are suspended, the entire team is suspended from racing. Suspensions are lifted once the team duties are fulfilled (or by becoming a Donor Member.) 

As the season wraps up, we wanted to thank every single one of you for being a marshal this year. Thank you for racing and to help make sure we can continue to race. Thank you for being CRCA member and for helping keep Central Park safe. Keep your whistle (you’ll need it next year!) and see you by the roadside sometime soon.