It’s marathon season. Get into the race!
The Boston Marathon is Monday, and whether you’re an avid marathoner who will need a new race to fixate on after Boston, or whether you just love a weekend 5K for the post-race brownies and beers, we’ve got some of the best New England races worthy of a road trip.
Westport’s Horseneck Half Marathon is a gorgeous post-Boston half, and something of a hidden gem. A stunner of a course with an oceanside start and finish at Horseneck Beach State Reservation, the 13.1 loop winds past beach dunes, estuary streams, stretches of ocean, and rolling acres of farmland, woods, and vineyard. You’ll wish you had time to stop and take photos, PR be darned. Bonus: You can peel off your socks at the finish and keep running right into the cooling surf, then right on to nearby Buzzards Bay Brewing (98 Horseneck Road) for post-race brews. May 21. 9 a.m. Registration ends May 19. horseneckhalf.com
Escape to Cape Cod for the postcard-worthy New Balance Falmouth Road Race. Now in its 45th year, the 7-miler from Woods Hole to Falmouth Heights has established itself as something of a highlight on the New England racing circuit. Past winners including greats Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar, and it typically draws an international field including Olympians and elites, among some 11,000 runners. Even if you’re not gunning for the $10,000 first prize or planning on breaking Kenyan Gilbert Okari’s 31:08 course record, you’ll enjoy the classic Cape views, miles of Vineyard Sound shoreline, beachside finish — and that oh-so-lovely ocean breeze. Aug. 20. 9 a.m. www.falmouthroadrace.com.
Take a summer trip to that quintessential slice of coastal Maine that is Cape Elizabeth for the TD Beach to Beacon 10K. Now in its 20th year, the race — founded by 1984 Olympic marathon gold medalist and former Boston Marathon winner Joan Benoit Samuelson — typically attracts elite runners from around the world. The point-to-point beauty of a course does as its name implies, starting near Crescent Beach State Park, winding tree-lined roads with ocean views to a Norman Rockwell painting of a finish at the famed Portland Head Light. Aug. 5, 8 a.m. www.beach2beacon.org.
If Heartbreak Hill just wasn’t enough for you, mark your calendar for next year’s Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race in Pinkham Notch, N.H. (Registration for this year’s June race is already closed.) You’ll climb — er, run — 7.6 miles up the Mount Washington Auto Road. From start to summit finish, the course hikes some 4,650 vertical feet. Warning: Just watching the course video on their may cause quads to burn. mtwashingtonautoroad.com/mount-washington-road-race
Make a weekend of it and head to Portsmouth, N.H. for its Market Square Day 10K Road Race. The 9 a.m. race kicks off the town’s June 10 Market Square Day festivities, which include live music, artisan vendors, and plenty of food in the heart of downtown. (www.proportsmouth.org/msdroadrace.cfm)
The Green Mountain State boasts quite a few stunning race courses. The Covered Bridges Half Marathon in South Pomfret, Vt., for one, rambles 13.1 miles through Vermont’s iconic covered bridges, over peaceful waters, and by green pasture. (June 4, 8:15 a.m., cbhalfmarathon.blogspot.com/)
You might run the Craft Brew Race Stowe, a 5K in Stowe, Vt., for the views — or for post-race craft beer fest, featuring some 30 local breweries, food trucks, and live music at Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa. (www.stoweflake.com/) Stoweflake serves as the starting and finishing point, and rooms are available for discount rates for runners. May 20. Race at noon. (craftbrewraces.com/stowe/)
If you’re looking to qualify for Boston next year, The Amica Newport Marathon is an oceanside gem of a qualifier. There’s also a half marathon, if that’s more your game, which shares the first 13.1 postcard-worthy miles. With an ocean-side start at Easton’s Beach, both courses boast miles of coastline, skirting Newport Harbor, and winding stretches of the mansion-lined Bellevue Avenue, Thames Street, Fort Adams State Park, and Ocean Drive. The full 26.2 cruises out to Aquidneck Island and dips into Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. (Oct. 8, 7:30 a.m. www.newportmarathon.com) Nosh post-race at Flo’s Clam Shack near Easton’s Beach. One of the best old-school seafood joints in New England. The clam cakes alone are worth the run. www.flosclamshacks.com.