Though one might associate New Hampshire runs more with ski slopes than pavement, a population as obsessed with activity as we are wouldn’t get far without some great running races. Whether you’re looking for a half or whole marathon, 5K or 10K, or just a fun run, there are plenty of opportunities for athletes of all ages and stages. Participation in a race is also a wonderful way to see more of our state, to learn more about our natural surroundings, or to get involved with a great philanthropic cause!
Test your endurance and determination by participating in the New Hampshire Marathon, a 25-year tradition that rivals similar races hosted by far larger metro areas. Take a leisurely, 26.5-mile stroll around Newfound Lake during peak foliage season in this annual, September event. If so many miles feels out of reach, stop by Bristol for a half marathon, 10K, or bring your little ones for a kid’s marathon race. Proceeds from the event go towards children-centered charities in the Bristol area, so participation in the New Hampshire Marathon can not only lead to self-improvement, but ever-important community improvement as well.
Load your headlamp with some fresh batteries (a race requirement) and step up to the starting line in the Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race in Madbury. Five kilometers of snowy, challenging terrain to embrace the best of what New Hampshire has to offer. Bring your own snowshoes, or reserve a pair in advance from the race administrators. Proceeds from the event go to benefit the Cocheco Valley Humane Society, so suit up and get going!
A wonderful Nashua tradition, the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter Run raises much needed funds for the community’s most vulnerable citizens. Participate in a Kid’s Sprint, 10K or 5K run, or a 3K walk, and give back while you get out. A great cause and a fun way to get kids involved in both philanthropy and physical exercise.
Runners flock from all around the globe for a chance to participate in the Mount Washington Road Race, a 7.6-mile event leading to the summit of the tallest peak in the Northeast. The race is so in demand, in fact, that participants are chosen by random selection of entered individuals. After the race, participants can enjoy a full “turkey dinner” luncheon during the awards ceremony, always a joyous affair.
Dubbed “Most Competitive Hillclimb” by Runner’s World Magazine, Lincoln’s Loon Mountain Race is only for serious mountain runners. Over 2,000 feet up, covered in just six miles, the course will challenge even the most seasoned athletes. Some races serve as a qualifier for the USATF Mountain Running & Collegiate Mountain Running National Championships. Train outside or put in some serious time with your treadmill’s incline settings and join the most elite group of mountain runners in the United States for a good time in the great outdoors.
An incredible course alongside Lake Winnipesaukee earns Big Lake Half Marathon a spot on our list. A tranquil, forested route as beautiful as anyone could dream up for their 13.1, ending with a victory party. Big Lake Half Marathon pairs each year with a New Hampshire craft brewery (two free beer tickets per runner) and various other vendors to put on a shindig worth the shin splints.
Rain or shine, Hampton’s annual Rockfest Half Marathon and 5K is always an incredible time. It also presents an opportunity for those unsure of their ability to complete such a long race—the course is one of the flattest in New Hampshire, and contestants who feel unable to compete at or below the required 15-minute mile pace can drop back into the 5K category with no price discrepancy. The after-race party is no slouch either, featuring a craft beer tent and live music.
With 90 percent of the 5K course sloping gradually downhill, and runners dressed in Christmas-themed attire, the Jolly Jaunt 5K is perfect for new runners eager to try out their stride. The half marathon course follows a peaceful, pastoral path that dips briefly into Massachusetts before looping back into the Granite State. Runners of both races can enjoy a hot chocolate and Lindt chocolate rest stop to refuel, and are met with a ballroom blowout to celebrate the day’s accomplishments.
Both runners and walkers are welcomed with open arms at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s annual 5K and fun run. For those who enjoy a happy medium, this 5K is one of the only events around that offers a competitive race walking category! Bring your children (under 12) to enjoy fun run events, including a 50-yard dash, one-quarter and half-mile races, and activities such as face painting. Funds raised through the event will go to museum admission for those who could not otherwise afford a visit.
For the elite snowshoer, there is no greater test than the Granite State Snowshoe Championship, a grueling 10K race toward glory. Diverse terrain makes this route tough but thrilling. Grab your warmest gear and prepare for all out battle against some of the best snowshoers not only in the Northeast but in the country.