Overall Rating
Overall Rating (16 Reviews)
4.7
(16 Ratings)(16 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.3
SCENERY
4.7
PRODUCTION
4.9
SWAG
4.1
The Clarence DeMar Marathon was established in 1978 to honor former Keene resident Clarence DeMar. We currently offer two competitive races, a Full Marathon and Half Marathon, and two community wellness programs: the DeMar Kids Marathon and DeMar Super Senior Marathon. We are inspired by Clarence DeMar’s pure love of … MORE
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Recent reviews

    M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '19

    BOTTOM LINE: Whether you’re a focused 50 Stater or a restless runner looking for a top-notch race in a beautiful setting, CDM is one DeMar-velous marathon. With a population of … MORE

    BOTTOM LINE: Whether you’re a focused 50 Stater or a restless runner looking for a top-notch race in a beautiful setting, CDM is one DeMar-velous marathon. With a population of ~23,000, Keene is a cute, quaint, welcoming community that feels like you’ve stepped out of a wayback machine somewhere in turn-of-the-20th-century New England (and especially if you’ve just driven in from nearby Boston). For out-of-towners there’s not a lot to do in Keene, but then again there’s just enough: take a self-guided tour of the charming Keene College campus, visit the collection of vintage-style murals and advertisements around town (which add to the anachronistic sense of time travel), and make a date with one of the town’s several brewpubs to celebrate your 26.2- or 13.1-mile accomplishment. Keene is a place where, 90 years later, the town’s favorite son would still feel right at home.

    CDM is an impeccably produced event that clearly cares about its runners and the community it supports. And this attitude spills over into every detail, from the always friendly and eager-to-help volunteers, to the pre-race pasta dinner with its high-profile guest speaker (Dick Beardsley for us), to the way they treat their last finisher with just as much joy and excitement as their first, referring to this resolute soul as their “cardiovascular runner,” i.e. the runner with the most heart. Brilliant. After running it for myself, it’s easy to understand why CDM won our RaceRaves “Best of the US” Marathons poll for New Hampshire. In fact, if you find yourself registering for CDM after reading this, tell Race Director Alan Stroshine that Mike from RaceRaves sent you — the man’s smile and enthusiasm are infectious, and I guarantee he’ll be one of the best conversations you’ll have all weekend.

    If a high-energy outing à la Vegas or New York City is your ideal race weekend, Keene may not be your cup o’ tea; then again, if you’re reading this and considering a marathon in rural New Hampshire, you probably already knew that. But if you’re looking to escape urban insanity for a few days in favor of a more peaceful and picturesque venue — and especially in early autumn when the local foliage offers a sneak peek of its fiery fall wardrobe — then CDM is just what this doctor ordered.

    If you do decide to run, I’d recommend you first read “Marathon,” the 1937 memoir of 7-time Boston Marathon champion and former Keene resident Clarence DeMar. I was pleasantly surprised to discover it’s a terrific narrative that will give you a much deeper appreciation for the man, the town and the rich background of this event. And don’t forget to pay your respects to the larger-than-life mural of Mr. DeMarathon himself located next door to local sporting goods retailer Ted’s Shoe & Sport.

    PRODUCTION: CDM production was on par with the best races I’ve run, a particularly impressive feat for a small-town race with only 768 total (marathon + half) finishers. Numbers aside, don’t sleep on DeMar — its 361 marathon finishers in 2019 represented a 143% increase over 2018. And I’m confident that once we’re able to overcome the challenge of COVID-19 as a nation, CDM will continue to grow in size and stature. Its increasing popularity is a tribute to Race Director Alan Stroshine and the Keene Elm City Rotary Club as well as to the Keene community, which puts its heart and soul into supporting this event. A well-produced race is one thing, but a well-produced race suffused with this level of dedication and pride is a special find.

    RD Alan’s regular email updates in the weeks leading up to race day helped to set expectations for runners and spectators alike, with extremely detailed directions to ensure no key detail was overlooked. And whereas the pre-race pasta dinner is typically one of the more hit-or-miss aspects of race weekend (a lesson I’d learned the hard way in Mobile five years earlier 😬), the CDM pasta dinner at the Courtyard Marriott — the host hotel where we stayed — was an unexpected delight thanks to a remarkable guest speaker in Dick Beardsley, who lost the “Duel in the Sun” at the 1982 Boston Marathon by two seconds to crazy man Alberto Salazar. (If you don’t know Dick’s life story, pick up a copy of his autobiography “Staying the Course: A Runner’s Toughest Race.” Wow.) Previous CDM speakers included Boston Marathon RD Dave McGillivray and former Runner’s World editor-at-large/1968 Boston Marathon winner Amby Burfoot, so Alan doesn’t mess around when it comes to securing guest speakers that his runners actually care about. And as long as we’re talking attention to detail, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who noticed the napkins at the pasta dinner were green and orange, the official colors of the Clarence DeMar Marathon. Then again, maybe I’m the only one who notices stuff like that?

    As for race day, the route featured clear signage in advance of aid stations, plus frequent green (for the marathon) and orange (for the half) directional arrows on the ground; these were especially helpful at road crossings and where the full and half courses diverged. Though a minor detail, my psyche also appreciated the Mile 13.1 sign at the halfway point. And I was surprised to learn after the race that CDM recruits 500 volunteers; with everything they did to ensure race weekend went off without a hitch, I would have sworn the number was closer to 5,000. A huge THANK YOU to some of the most capable and caring volunteers in the country.

    One curious choice by Alan and his team was the decision not to offer solid nutrition (CLIF, GU etc.) along the course, though this too was clearly noted in his pre-race emails, enabling all runners to plan accordingly — like resourceful 50 Stater John P from Tulsa (@slowjuan on RaceRaves), who apparently scored a much-needed jelly donut off one of the local kids late in the race. So there’s that. And speaking of munchies, the post-race party on the Keene State campus featured an assortment of food options served on the large grassy quad alongside the finish line, where runners and their families capitalized on the beautiful fall weather. Nearby, a Millennium Running timing tent welcomed finishers to print out their results.

    One last detail worth noting: In addition to the marathon and half marathon, race day featured a DeMar Kids Marathon as well as a Super Seniors (70+) Marathon, a simple yet amazing idea. While kids runs are a staple of many marathon weekends to empower the next generation of runners, very few events focus on the opposite end of the age spectrum. DeMar’s Super Seniors Marathon is a novel concept I’d recommend to races across the country as a more inclusive way to support their local communities.

    SWAG: The CDM finisher medal is a nice, multi-colored keepsake with the race logo depicted on front and a quote from the man himself engraved on the back: “Not only in running but in much of life is a sense of balance and proportion necessary.” The loosely fitting long-sleeve race tee is comfortable enough, though unfortunately I’ll never be able to pull off neon green — my name is close enough to Mike Wazowski’s already without me actually dressing like him. (I did end up purchasing an electric blue pullover that’s quickly become a go-to favorite, with the CDM logo in gray on front and “DEMAR” in gray vertical letters down the back). Every finisher also received a water bottle at the finish line which was, conveniently enough, pre-filled with water. Last but not least, I scored a free New Balance poster of the Duel in the Sun, signed by Dick Beardsley at the pre-race pasta dinner, to complement my purchased copy of his autobiography. All in all, a swag-errific race weekend in the Granite State.

    If you’re Keen(e) on CDM, don’t stop at the Cliffs Notes — check out my full race recap of our Clarence DeMar Marathon weekend at https://wp.me/p2rSqE-1UT

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    seagroves87 Jun 16, 2020 at 4:59pm

    NH is my home state so this one is high on my bucket list once things go back to normal. Glad to hear such a glowing review

    NH is my home state so this one is high on my bucket list once things go back to normal. Glad to hear such a glowing review

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    M_Sohaskey Jun 18, 2020 at 1:14pm

    Your home state is beautiful, Amy! But then again I'm sure you already knew that 😊. When you're ready to run CDM you won't be disappointed, and fingers crossed they… MORE

    Your home state is beautiful, Amy! But then again I'm sure you already knew that 😊. When you're ready to run CDM you won't be disappointed, and fingers crossed they can still find a way to make it happen in 2020. LESS

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    melwof FIRST-TIMER '19

    Friday, Saturday, and Sunday race day pick up offered. I did Saturday at the Gym which was also the location where the buses were located to shuttle you to your … MORE

    Friday, Saturday, and Sunday race day pick up offered. I did Saturday at the Gym which was also the location where the buses were located to shuttle you to your race location, it was different for the half and the full. Plenty of close free parking on campus. 8am race start and a perfect morning for running. Ran downhill then up hill to start then a fairly flat course with maybe 2 additional hills. I was tired from my Saturday race so I just did what I could. Plenty of water and Gatorade on the course! The crowd support was amazing the entire race! People were everywhere cheering on the runners. They seemed to have an over abundance of volunteers as we ran through the cemetery. Some of the race was on country roads with lots of shade and a little traffic, some on the open road with a little more traffic. There were also parts that were paved trails through parks. The announcer read a statement that you included during registration as you crossed the finish line. The after race area had a photo opportunity and my favorite chocolate milk! There were also cookies, veggie chili, yogurt, watermelon, oranges, bananas and apple juice. One bonus was being able to take a shower at the gym after the race! Water bottle, Long sleeve dri fit shirt, a little tote bag were the race swag.

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    lmmiller08 FIRST-TIMER '19

    You get busted up a mountain and a school awaits warm and sheltered. Plenty of outside ports potties. Gym to stretch in and do pre race rituals. The race director … MORE

    You get busted up a mountain and a school awaits warm and sheltered. Plenty of outside ports potties. Gym to stretch in and do pre race rituals.
    The race director gets on bus to ask if any one has questions he gives us last minute reminders. Invites us to church at start line a mile away to stay warm and minister performs a blessing. Also clean toilets and a kitchen to use. So comfortable.
    Course well supported and amazing scenery. Oh my gosh this park we run through has amazing views. Plus the colors are all changing on the leaves.
    Running at finish was great because seemed like everyone in town was there to cheer us on. I loved this race. Did not expect this.

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    lboogles FIRST-TIMER '19

    If you want a good scenic trip on foot this is your race. It was a gorgeous route! The course was mostly flat with a few hills but only one … MORE

    If you want a good scenic trip on foot this is your race. It was a gorgeous route! The course was mostly flat with a few hills but only one steep hill in the cemetery really stood out to me. I brought my family with me and we traveled from home in MA the evening before. I was unable to retrieve my race bib prior to raceday so I had to pick up at finish line day of. I found this to be inconvenient. I am unsure why race day pick up wouldn’t be at the starting line. I always give myself an hour but by the time I went to finish line then to starting line I only had 12min left before guntime. This was a good spectator course as it is an open course.

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    starrgirrl353 FIRST-TIMER '19

    Clarence DeMar was my first full marathon. The experience was absolutely amazing! The area is beautiful with farms and country roads. The leaves were at peak it seemed, and as … MORE

    Clarence DeMar was my first full marathon. The experience was absolutely amazing! The area is beautiful with farms and country roads. The leaves were at peak it seemed, and as we ran the leaves were coming down like confetti. There were lots of water stops with happy people and the locals were out helping as well. I felt greatful for one woman who supported me when I had to stop to stretch, offering me a water. It meant a lot! This event seems well supported by everyone and when we stayed at an Airbnb there were other runners there as well and our host was knowledgeable about the race. I must also add that my finisher photo was stellar!!! I highly recommend this race!

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    jeff_herlicka FIRST-TIMER '18

    Iconic New England scenery finishing up on the campus of Keene State College. This race was one of the best organized marathons I have ever participated in. The volunteers were … MORE

    Iconic New England scenery finishing up on the campus of Keene State College. This race was one of the best organized marathons I have ever participated in. The volunteers were amazing and everyone went above and beyond to make this race a safe and awesome experience. The announcer at the finish line even calls your name out as you cross the finish line. I cannot say enough about this event and would highly recommend the Clarence DeMar Marathon for anyone looking for a great New England marathon. Also, even though I didn’t earn my BQ yet, I plan on making another attempt at it on this race in the future!

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    East4711 REPEAT RUNNER '19

    Excellent point-to-point race. Very well organized (packet pick-up, bag check, shuttles to starting point—and for the half marathon, a shuttle back to the starting line, if you parked your car … MORE

    Excellent point-to-point race. Very well organized (packet pick-up, bag check, shuttles to starting point—and for the half marathon, a shuttle back to the starting line, if you parked your car there). The announcers shout out the names of runners as they approach the finish line, often including special notes that you can submit on your registration form (“this is his 30th half marathon!” or “this is her 42th state”). There’s a massage tent with a lot of people working there, so you don’t have to wait too long to be seen. Fantastic post-race food tent (the best food of the 5 different half marathons I’ve run).

    The race has made an effort to reduce waste by handing out very nice reusable DeMar water bottles instead of the usual disposable water bottles. They have a station in the finish area where you can refill it.

    The race also has a Kid’s Marathon and a Super Seniors’ Marathon, which are free to enter. The kids or seniors have log 25 miles of walking or running over the summer, then they run or walk the last 1.2 on race day, crossing the big finish line to cheering crowds.

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    swisheranne FIRST-TIMER '19

    I cant get over how smooth the entire process was! This race had the best support, even for the back of the packers. All volunteers were still out and enthusiastic! … MORE

    I cant get over how smooth the entire process was! This race had the best support, even for the back of the packers. All volunteers were still out and enthusiastic! The first half was breath taking New England beauty, and the second half had the best support. I loved every mile. This was my first full, and I truly plan to run it again.

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    SlowJuan FIRST-TIMER '19

    If Autumn colors, sunlight through quiet woods, rocky creeks, showers of gold leaves and acorns like intermittent hail falling in the breeze aren’t your thing, well, ...…then Clarence DeMar might … MORE

    If Autumn colors, sunlight through quiet woods, rocky creeks, showers of gold leaves and acorns like intermittent hail falling in the breeze aren’t your thing, well, ……then Clarence DeMar might not be for you. The first 14 miles of this course are spectacularly beautiful, winding down a two-lane mountain road through cathedral Autumn woods. There’s an incredible vista crossing over & back on the Surry Lake dam, past the scenic Bretwood Golf Course, even running over a half mile through the hallowed grounds of a stately, ancient cemetery at Mile 22. My thanks to the young volunteers on the “graveyard shift” who were still at their posts when I came through. Also, thank you to the Aid Station crew at Mile 18 who gave me their very last lemon-filled, jelly doughnut. Best….Doughnut….Ever!
    (Couldn’t bring myself to ask for a Molson to go with my jelly doughnut, don’cha know?!? Good day, eh?)
    The biggest shout-out goes to the staff and volunteers of the CDM. Incredibly well organized and enthusiastic to the very end, even after seven and a half hours. It’s difficult to describe how uplifting it is to have people cheering you on any time you finish after six hours…….and still have food there! Be kind to your Race Staff. They’ve had a long day, too!
    For post-race celebration and pain management, check out the Elm Creek Brewery in Keene. They had an Oktoberfest celebration going on after the Race with a genuine, lederhosen-wearin’, oom-pah band and more than enough beer, brats, kraut and pretzels to reward any weary, ravenous marathoner who had just gone the distance. The Germans know a thing or two about celebrating a job well done!
    “Our-feet-our-stained!!!”

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    kenspruell FIRST-TIMER '19

    I can't add much more to previous reviews about how scenic the run is through the classic fall colors of New Hampshire, especially the first half of the course. I'd … MORE

    I can’t add much more to previous reviews about how scenic the run is through the classic fall colors of New Hampshire, especially the first half of the course. I’d add a couple of thoughts:
    – The race directors and the town of Keene do an amazing job supporting this race. Roughly 500 volunteers were involved in 2019, for a field size of ~400 marathoners and ~450 half-marathoners. The overall support is exemplary.
    – The final third of the course runs around and through the town of Keene. This is local race and the town comes out and supports runners. There is plenty of well wishers and locals cheering you on.
    – I attended the pre-race pasta dinner and can’t recommend it enough. The speakers the race directors get for the event (Dick Beardsley in 2019) are alone worth the price of admission. And then you get all you can eat pasta and dessert too.
    – One note is that Keene lodging does fill up quick, so if you’re planning on running good to find a place to stay early.
    – Learning about the history and life of Clarence DeMar is inspirational. I read his autobiography pre-race and recommend it.
    – The medals are big and cool. On the back was a quote from Clarence DeMar: “Not only in running but much of life is a sense of balance and proportion necessary.”
    – Heading up to Keene for this run makes for a rewarding and fulfilling weekend. Good luck if you run CDM (you won’t be disappointed!).

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    lou.king FIRST-TIMER '19

    The course was pretty, shady, and fast. Net downhill was mostly in the beginning. The day was sunny but I was pleasantly surprised that most of the course was in … MORE

    The course was pretty, shady, and fast. Net downhill was mostly in the beginning. The day was sunny but I was pleasantly surprised that most of the course was in the shade. Luckily even when the sun was on me there was a nice breeze which reduced the impact of the sun. There were tons of happy, enthusiastic volunteers. At the end of the race a race ambassador asked me how it went and if there was anything they can do to improve the experience. Huge recommendation!

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    VTKRAMER FIRST-TIMER '19

    First half of this marathon was spectacular. Things were not quite as nice second half. Well organized, but I was a little surprised there was no food offered on the … MORE

    First half of this marathon was spectacular. Things were not quite as nice second half. Well organized, but I was a little surprised there was no food offered on the course. Tons of water/electrolytes stops, but no food.

    Volunteers were numerous and awesome. I highly recommend this race.

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    runvirginia FIRST-TIMER '18

    Awesome point to point, packet pickup, t-shirt, medal, and showers at the finish line. Awesome volunteers who were unfailingly enthusiastic and supportive (many said 'you inspire me' instead of 'almost … MORE

    Awesome point to point, packet pickup, t-shirt, medal, and showers at the finish line. Awesome volunteers who were unfailingly enthusiastic and supportive (many said ‘you inspire me’ instead of ‘almost there’). The communication from the RD was well-managed and clear. I am a back of the packer and all the course marshalls were still out, in their bright yellow, to show me the way. There was water and food at the end. I did have to bring my own Gu, but I knew that in advance. Free finish line photo! Loved this race–beautiful location.

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    todd17406 FIRST-TIMER '18

    It's very obvious this Marathon means a lot to the folks of Keene NH and the Keene NH Rotary Club, who put on the race. From the pasta meal (we … MORE

    It’s very obvious this Marathon means a lot to the folks of Keene NH and the Keene NH Rotary Club, who put on the race. From the pasta meal (we had Amby Burfoot as guest speaker in 2018) to the course logistics, everything was well thought out. The first 16 miles or so are run in the NH Autumn woods, running beside a babbling stream. The last 10 are kinda standard fare, but the folks of Keene really come out and support the runners. Very organized water stations and positive people along the way. This can be a fast course, but has its share of climbs as well. (Especially the steep short hills in the Cemetary just before mile 23). The local hotels are kinda pricey, so we stayed at an air-bnb right outside of town. Only negative to me was that the 1/2 marathoners course kept joining and leaving the ‘full’ course so I was forced to pass the same groups of people 4 or 5 times. Found this mentally challenging as you’re trying your damndest to keep pace the last 5 miles and you keep passing the same 1/2 marathon walkers and joggers spread 3 wide. Overall, I’m so glad I did Demar for my NH marathon! Great opportunity to learn about this amazing Man. (Google Clarence DeMar)

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 05, 2018 at 1:44pm

    Awesome review Todd, thanks so much! I recently read DeMar's autobiography "Marathon," (great read, by the way) and now can't wait to run Keene one day soon. Cool to hear… MORE

    Awesome review Todd, thanks so much! I recently read DeMar's autobiography "Marathon," (great read, by the way) and now can't wait to run Keene one day soon. Cool to hear that the town supports the runners so enthusiastically. Though what a strange déjà vu feeling, having to pass the same half marathoners again and again, I've never heard of that. Thanks for the excellent recommendations, and congrats on adding NH to your 50 States Map! LESS

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    RunnerMeg FIRST-TIMER '17

    Clarence DeMar was my 52nd marathon and 46th state. I'd been looking forward to a cool, fall New England race after a warm Iowa marathon two weeks prior. However, that … MORE

    Clarence DeMar was my 52nd marathon and 46th state. I’d been looking forward to a cool, fall New England race after a warm Iowa marathon two weeks prior. However, that was not to be! The anxiety set in the week before when I checked the weather and saw a high of 91. What?? Lots of chatter began online and the RD addressed the weather issue early that week stating they were meeting with the medical team to determine what would need to be done to ensure runners’ safety. This had me worried but needlessly. They emailed again Thursday with the news that the race was starting an hour early (7am instead of 8am) and that extra water and aid stations were in place. I’d like to say THANK YOU to the RD and team for not canceling outright. Moving the start time up made a world of difference. Furthermore, he stepped up on the bus before we disembarked at the start (and sent an email the night before saying the same) and told us to have a great race, don’t go out there for a PR, run smart, and enjoy the scenery instead of shooting for a time. If medical services got overwhelmed they would have to black flag the race. I thought this message was on point.

    Okay enough about the anxiety and the heat! I thought the race was great. Fantastic comms leading up to race day, great long sleeve tech shirt (in a fall color that I love), and very nice 40th anniversary medal.

    The packet pickup process was simple and friendly and they also offered it race morning for those who couldn’t make it. I don’t often need that option but I appreciate it when it’s available because you never know with airline travel!

    The start is at a school which is always nice! We took a bus ride up, which left from Keene State College. There was a comfortable gym to hang out in for an hour before the start and lots of portajohns. Also bottled water was available.

    The course itself was very pretty. There were river views, farmland, a dam and lake, nice homes, along with a cemetery. Much of it was shaded (but definitely not all!) and there were lots of hills, none of which were major or huge, just rolling.

    The finish is at Keene State College and there’s a good selection of food and beverages available. I stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites which was a convenient walk to packet pickup, the bus pickup, and the finish (lots of restaurants nearby as well).

    Overall I commend the RD and team for a very well thought out and organized marathon. I am so grateful it wasn’t cancelled and we got an earlier start time. I’m also very thankful for all of the volunteers and PD and medical services personnel that were out there with us, cheering us on, hosing us down, and handing us water; they made the difference!

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    M_Sohaskey Sep 24, 2017 at 10:30pm

    Sounds like this was handled perfectly – we had a similar situation at Hatfield McCoy last year and yes, I super-appreciate RDs who take the smart, sensible "Let's play it… MORE

    Sounds like this was handled perfectly – we had a similar situation at Hatfield McCoy last year and yes, I super-appreciate RDs who take the smart, sensible "Let's play it by ear" approach rather than panicking and canceling a race ahead of time. So glad it worked out well in this case and that the course was largely shaded... Clarence DeMar sounds like a NH best bet! Thanks for another awesome review Meg, and congrats on beating the heat to notch state 46. Cooler weather has to be just around the corner... doesn't it? LESS

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    RunnerMeg Sep 25, 2017 at 4:00pm

    It was refreshing to run a marathon where the RD and team balanced responsibility of managing the event along with empowering runners to be smart and adapt to conditions. I… MORE

    It was refreshing to run a marathon where the RD and team balanced responsibility of managing the event along with empowering runners to be smart and adapt to conditions. I think they did a masterful job and the support that was out there was unbeatable! And yes...come on FALL weather!! LESS

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    FLTLBrun REPEAT RUNNER '14

    The third consecutive year I've done this race and with a jam packed marathon/ultra calendar, repeat races aren't the norm. From the first time I stepped foot in the packet … MORE

    The third consecutive year I’ve done this race and with a jam packed marathon/ultra calendar, repeat races aren’t the norm. From the first time I stepped foot in the packet pickup location back in 2012 I knew there was something special about this event. RD and volunteers took a keen interest in my being there and they let me know it. The course is challenging yet interesting. Over hill and dale, across a dam, through a park and a cemetery, on a bike path, past cows, a “tunnel” of stately pine trees and past a golf course – loved the variety. Packet pickup is just that, no expo, just friendly volunteers. Several options for when the pickup can be done to meet traveling runners needs. Buses to the start are convenient. About a 1/4 mile walk to the starting line. Announcements are clear. Course support is more than adequate. Pre-race pasta dinner is a home cooked meal. Really, it’s delish. Post race refreshments are wonderful as well. Massages available. They try hard to recognize every runner as they cross the finish line too. And, if you are around for the last finishers to cross the finish line you will likely hear either the Rocky theme or the Olympic theme blasting from the speakers and a tunnel of volunteers cheering them on. Tech shirt, nice medal too. Keene, NH is a picturesque New England town with an incredible array of restaurants. Can you tell I really like this race?

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    3
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  1. Races
  2. Clarence DeMar Marathon & Half Marathon