Best Marathons in New Hampshire

Marathons in New Hampshire for running races

New Hampshire, with its scenic beauty and varied landscapes, is a runner’s dream. Nestled among the Northeast’s most picturesque states, it boasts marathon races that promise an unforgettable experience. From lakeside routes to mountainous terrains, each race presents a unique running challenge, captivating both novice and veteran marathoners.

Furthermore, the Granite State’s marathons aren’t just about the physical run. They’re a journey through history, culture, and nature. As runners pace through quaint towns, they’re treated to New Hampshire’s rich colonial past, with historic landmarks dotting the courses.

Transitioning from the urban to the wild, the state’s natural beauty is unrivaled. Autumn marathons, in particular, offer a tapestry of colors, with the fall foliage painting the trails in fiery hues of orange, yellow, and red. It’s a spectacle that makes the miles fly by, leaving runners in awe of their surroundings.

Lastly, what sets New Hampshire marathons apart is the incredible sense of community. Each race becomes a celebration, with locals cheering on from the sidelines, fostering an atmosphere of encouragement and unity. It’s this blend of beauty, history, and community spirit that makes marathoning in New Hampshire an absolute must-do for every runner.

Clarence DeMar Marathon

Location: Keene, NH
Date: September

The Clarence DeMar Marathon, held in New Hampshire, is a testament to the legacy of one of America’s greatest marathoners. Starting in Gilsum, this scenic course takes runners on a journey through the picturesque Monadnock Region. The early miles offer a serene, rural backdrop as participants traverse the rolling hills and winding roads of the Granite State. Running through a mix of dense woods and open fields, participants experience the natural beauty that New Hampshire is known for.

Moving onward, runners reach the town of Keene, a quaint New England community that exudes charm. The streets here are lined with historic homes, brick buildings, and local businesses cheering on every runner. As they venture deeper into Keene, the views shift to tree-canopied roads and the sight of the Ashuelot River, a peaceful body of water guiding runners through the town’s heart. The gentle sounds of the river accompany the participants, adding to the race’s tranquil ambiance.

The course’s terrain varies, alternating between flat stretches and gentle inclines. However, the most challenging hill awaits runners around mile eight, though the effort is rewarded with panoramic vistas at the top. After the climb, the route becomes predominantly downhill, allowing runners to pick up the pace as they head towards the finish line.

Closing in on the last miles, participants return to Keene and the energy of the crowd intensifies. The final stretch runs through the heart of the city, leading to the Keene State College campus. As they cross the finish line, participants celebrate not just the completion of the marathon but the honor of running a race named after a marathon legend.

Bear Brook Trail Marathon

Location: Allenstown, NH
Date: September

The Bear Brook Trail Marathon, nestled in New Hampshire’s Bear Brook State Park, offers runners a rugged, natural experience. This trail race boasts an intricate network of paths, weaving through the vast expanse of the state’s largest developed park. Right from the start, participants are plunged into dense forests, where the canopy overhead shades the path and creates a cool, refreshing ambiance. The terrain underfoot varies, challenging runners with a combination of packed dirt, roots, and occasional rocky patches.

As participants journey deeper into the park, they encounter a series of rolling hills. While some of these ascents can be steep, they’re relatively short, making them manageable even for less experienced trail runners. However, the true reward lies at the peaks. From these vantage points, runners get fleeting glimpses of the park’s shimmering ponds and the broader landscape beyond. Transitioning downhill, the sound of flowing streams occasionally meets the ear, adding to the race’s serene setting.

The course isn’t just about dense woodlands and hills. Runners also traverse open meadows, where the sunlight filters through, warming the path and offering expansive views of the surrounding scenery. Wildlife sightings, from darting deer to chirping birds, become a delightful bonus for participants, reminding them of the untouched beauty of this region.

As the miles accumulate, and the finish line draws nearer, runners loop back toward the starting area. The final stretch can be challenging, as fatigue sets in, but the promise of completing such a picturesque course drives many forward. Completing the Bear Brook Trail Marathon stands as a testament to both physical endurance and the appreciation of nature’s raw beauty.

CHEAP Marathon

Location: Derry, NH
Date: April

The CHEAP Marathon, true to its name, offers an affordable yet rewarding experience for runners of all levels. Located in Salisbury, Massachusetts, this race stands out not just for its cost-effectiveness but also its scenic course. As participants set out, they’re immediately greeted by a mix of paved roads and well-maintained trails. The journey begins in the town’s heart, allowing runners to take in the quaint New England architecture and community vibe.

Moving forward, the course ushers participants into the surrounding countryside. The landscape opens up, revealing sprawling fields and picturesque farmlands. While the terrain remains mostly flat, occasional gentle rises provide a mild challenge and allow for panoramic views of the horizon. Amidst these stretches, runners often encounter serene ponds, their still waters reflecting the sky, offering moments of tranquility amidst the physical challenge.

Transitioning between the town and its outskirts, the marathon encapsulates the charm of Salisbury and its environs. The route loops back through the town multiple times, giving spectators ample opportunity to cheer and provide that much-needed morale boost. The repetition also offers runners a familiar setting, which can be a mental aid, knowing what lies ahead after each loop.

In the concluding miles of the CHEAP Marathon, participants return to the town center, where they began their journey. The sense of accomplishment upon approaching the finish line is palpable, as the cheers grow louder and the end is in sight. Whether drawn by the budget-friendly aspect or the allure of Salisbury’s landscape, finishing this marathon is a memorable feat for every participant.

Granite State Marathon

Location: Nashua, NH
Date: May

The Granite State Marathon, set in the picturesque state of New Hampshire, offers participants a unique blend of natural beauty and charming townscapes. Kicking off in Nashua, a historic city near the southern border, the marathon weaves its way through the urban heart before gradually transitioning to serene, less populated areas. In the early miles, runners can appreciate the city’s mix of old brick buildings and modern structures, reflecting its rich history and progressive outlook.

As the race progresses, participants find themselves enveloped by the lush New Hampshire wilderness. Towering trees, with their leaves forming a canopy, line the roads and provide a refreshing shade, especially during the warmer months. Alongside, numerous brooks and streams gently flow, their babbling sounds creating a soothing backdrop. The undulating hills, characteristic of the region, offer both challenges and relief, with downhill segments allowing runners a brief respite.

Heading north, the course showcases a series of quaint towns and hamlets. These settlements, with their wooden houses and white picket fences, exude a timeless charm. Occasionally, local residents come out to cheer, their encouragement providing a boost to the runners. These community interactions, coupled with the scenic vistas, make for an unforgettable marathon experience.

As the finish line in Manchester approaches, participants traverse a series of gentle inclines leading back to the urban landscape. The city’s skyline slowly becomes prominent, signaling the end of the journey. With each step, the blend of nature and city, history and modernity that defines the Granite State Marathon becomes a lasting memory for every participant.

Loco Marathon

Location: Newmarket, NH
Date: October

The Loco Marathon, held in scenic New Hampshire, is a captivating race that draws participants from all over. Starting in Newmarket, this marathon offers a glimpse into the tranquil countryside and serene landscapes characteristic of the region. Runners kick off their journey on a mix of flat and gently rolling terrains, providing a friendly beginning to the race. The early miles are characterized by quiet roads and a peaceful ambiance, allowing participants to find their rhythm.

As the course continues, the runners are treated to picturesque views of the Great Bay. This expansive tidal estuary adds a touch of coastal beauty to the marathon experience. Its shimmering waters and the sight of distant boats can be a refreshing sight, especially on sunlit days. Additionally, tree-lined stretches offer shade and a natural canopy, making the environment cooler and more pleasant.

Venturing further into the heart of the Granite State, the marathon route showcases charming rural scenes. Historic farms, with their sprawling fields, stand as testament to the area’s agricultural roots. The alternating patches of woods and open spaces offer variety, ensuring that there’s always something new around the bend. Periodically, the rustic charm of New England’s wooden barns and traditional homes dot the landscape.

As the marathon comes to its conclusion, the town of Newmarket beckons once more. Its quaint downtown area and the gentle hum of local life signal the nearing finish line. Runners can then revel in the accomplishment of completing a race that beautifully marries the natural and man-made wonders of New Hampshire.

Manchester City Marathon

Location: Manchester, NH
Date: November

The Manchester City Marathon, located in New Hampshire’s largest city, offers runners a unique blend of urban and scenic environments. Beginning in the heart of downtown Manchester, participants set out amidst historic buildings and bustling streets. The start is energetic, with city sounds echoing, and the excitement of local supporters cheering on. As runners navigate the early miles, the city’s diverse architecture, from old mill buildings to modern structures, paints a vivid backdrop.

Transitioning from the urban landscape, the course leads participants towards the shimmering banks of the Merrimack River. Here, the path offers breathtaking views of the water and the city’s bridges. The river, with its gentle flow, provides a serene contrast to the earlier city scenes. This segment along the water’s edge gives runners a moment of calm, allowing for reflection and a deeper connection with nature.

Moving away from the river, the route introduces runners to Manchester’s charming residential neighborhoods. Tree-lined streets, dotted with quintessential New England homes, give a glimpse into the town’s close-knit community feel. As the marathon unfolds, the changing terrains, from flat roads to mild inclines, keep participants engaged and challenged.

Finally, as the marathon winds back towards the city center, the energy begins to amplify once again. Downtown Manchester reemerges, signaling the impending finish line. The final stretch is a celebration, as the sounds of cheering crowds welcome and congratulate runners on their remarkable achievement in the Manchester City Marathon.

New Hampshire Marathon

Location: Bristol, NH
Date: September

The New Hampshire Marathon unfolds in the picturesque town of Bristol, showcasing the region’s natural beauty at every turn. Starting near Newfound Lake, one of the state’s deepest and clearest lakes, participants are treated to serene views right from the get-go. The shimmering waters provide a calming presence, setting the tone for the initial miles. As runners make their way around the lake’s perimeter, they are surrounded by forested landscapes, and the reflections on the water are a sight to behold.

Transitioning from lakeside views, the course ventures into the rural landscapes of New Hampshire. Gently rolling hills greet participants, offering both challenges and rewarding vistas. The changing elevations, though not severe, provide a rhythmic variation for the runners. As they crest each hill, they’re met with panoramic scenes of lush valleys, quaint farmhouses, and the distant mountains.

As the marathon continues, runners journey through Bristol’s charming neighborhoods. The sight of classic New England homes, with their distinctive architecture and colorful facades, adds to the marathon’s appeal. Residents often come out to offer their support, their cheers echoing through tree-lined streets and creating an atmosphere of community and encouragement.

Drawing closer to the finish, the course circles back to the vicinity of Newfound Lake. The final stretch offers a full circle moment, reminding participants of the journey they’ve undertaken. With the lake’s waters once again in view and the end nearing, runners gather their remaining strength, buoyed by the natural beauty of New Hampshire, to cross the marathon’s triumphant finish line.

Revel White Mountains Marathon

Location: Conway, NH
Date: May

The Revel White Mountains Marathon begins amidst the breathtaking beauty of New Hampshire’s mountainous terrain. Commencing at high elevation, the starting point offers runners unparalleled views of the surrounding White Mountains. This panorama, with majestic peaks rising in the distance, provides an inspiring backdrop for the race. The clean mountain air, crisp and invigorating, energizes participants as they set off on their marathon journey.

Progressing along the course, runners experience a primarily downhill trajectory, which is characteristic of the Revel race series. This descent not only allows for faster times but also lets participants relish the unfolding landscapes without the strain of uphill climbs. The gradual slope leads runners through dense forests of tall pines, their aromatic scent filling the air. The sound of leaves crunching underfoot and the occasional birdcall add to the natural symphony of the wilderness.

As the race continues, participants encounter stretches alongside pristine rivers. The shimmering waters, reflecting the surrounding forests and sky, offer moments of tranquility amidst the challenge. Additionally, quaint wooden bridges sporadically appear, guiding runners over babbling brooks and adding a touch of rustic charm to the experience.

Nearing the finish line, the marathon route merges with small town roads. Here, local communities gather to cheer on the athletes, their support creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere. With the mountains still visible in the distance, and the encouragement of spectators, runners muster their final reserves of energy, propelling them to conclude their marathon adventure on a triumphant note.

Joe English Twilight Marathon

Location: Amherst, NH
Date: September

The Joe English Twilight Marathon stands out as an evening race, a unique time that sets it apart from most marathons. Held in Amherst, New Hampshire, this marathon takes participants on a journey through both nature and nighttime. Beginning just before sunset, runners are first treated to a mesmerizing display of colors as the sun bids its farewell. The orange and pink hues provide a visual treat, making the initial miles even more memorable.

As darkness descends, the course takes on a new aura. Runners traverse through Joe English Reservation, a vast expanse of natural beauty. The soft, earthen trails beneath their feet are surrounded by towering trees, which by night become silhouettes against the starlit sky. The peaceful ambiance of the forest at night, combined with the sounds of nocturnal creatures, makes this marathon experience surreal.

Throughout the course, there are open meadows that give participants expansive views of the night sky. On clear nights, runners can gaze upwards and spot constellations, adding an astronomical element to their journey. These open stretches contrast beautifully with the wooded sections, offering a varied landscape that keeps runners engaged and enchanted.

Towards the end of the marathon, the glow of finish line lights becomes visible, piercing through the darkness. This beacon motivates tired runners, guiding them towards their final destination. After navigating through the nighttime wilderness of Joe English Reservation, reaching the finish line feels like a triumphant end to a magical evening adventure.

New England Series New Hampshire Marathon

Location: Claremont, NH
Date: June

The New England Series New Hampshire Marathon is a notable event that showcases the scenic beauty of New Hampshire. Set in Greenfield State Park, this race immerses participants in a lush environment. As runners begin their journey, they are greeted by a landscape filled with dense woods and serene lakes. The early miles promise a tranquil experience, with gentle ripples from the water echoing the rhythm of footsteps.

Transitioning deeper into the course, participants encounter a mix of terrains. Gravel paths and well-trodden trails alternate, offering both stability and challenge. The towering trees, with their canopy of green, provide ample shade, making for a cooler run even on sunnier days. Amidst this verdant setting, the occasional wooden bridge emerges, taking runners over bubbling streams.

As the marathon progresses, the natural contours of the land come into play. Gentle inclines followed by relieving descents ensure that the course isn’t just flat and monotonous. These rolling hills not only test a runner’s endurance but also offer panoramic views of the park’s beauty. On reaching the highest points, participants can feast their eyes on the vast expanses of the park’s greenery and waters.

In the concluding miles, the course loops back, bringing runners closer to the starting point. The familiar sights of the lakes and forests act as a comforting signal that the finish line is near. After the diverse landscapes and challenges, crossing the finish line feels like a rewarding culmination of a journey through one of New Hampshire’s most picturesque locales.


In reflection, New Hampshire’s marathons are more than just races; they’re transformative experiences. The state’s routes, drenched in natural beauty and history, offer runners not just a challenge, but a story. Every mile tells tales of the past, and with each step, participants become a part of that narrative.

Moreover, it’s not merely the scenic views or historic landmarks that linger in one’s memory. It’s the warmth of the community, the strangers cheering you on, the camaraderie among fellow runners. These human connections, forged amidst the shared challenge of the marathon, are invaluable.

Additionally, as the finish line approaches and the sense of accomplishment sets in, one realizes the growth. Both physically and mentally, New Hampshire’s marathons push runners, allowing them to discover untapped reservoirs of strength and resilience.

In the end, while medals and timings are the tangible takeaways, the real rewards lie in the journey itself. The friendships made, the sights witnessed, the barriers broken – these are the treasures that make marathoning in New Hampshire truly special. So, lace up and let the Granite State’s marathons carve an indelible mark on your runner’s soul. Happy running!

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