Overall Rating
Overall Rating (1 Review)
5
(1 Ratings)(1 Review)
DIFFICULTY
3
SCENERY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SWAG
5
The New England Half Marathon features a unique point-to-point course starting at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and running scenic country roads to finish at the New Hampshire State House. The tree-lined country roads between the speedway and the state house offer up plenty of scenery. The first 1,000 people … MORE
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    seagroves87 FIRST-TIMER '20

    This is a quintessential fall New England half marathon that happens to end in my hometown of Concord, NH. This year they changed the course. It was still point to … MORE

    This is a quintessential fall New England half marathon that happens to end in my hometown of Concord, NH. This year they changed the course. It was still point to point ending at the state house in Concord but prior years it had started at the speedway but this year it started at an apple orchard. I’m not sure if the change was just for this year due to covid or permanent. Personally I liked the change as I was looking for a nostalgic, fall run and am not a Nascar fan so don’t really care about the speedway but that may have disappointed some people. This was by far the biggest race I have done since the LA marathon and production was impressive given covid restrictions. Packet pickup was either at the millenium running store the day before or you could get your bib at the start of the race and the race shirt at the end. My dad also did this race with me and my parents picked up our packets the day before. I like the shirt a lot. It is a very comfy, long sleeved shirt with a nice and simple pattern with a leaf changing colors. It is hooded which is interesting. It fits nice and since we picked it up early the weren’t out of sizes this time. For the start of the race you could either take a shuttle or be dropped off. Luckily my mom could drop us off as I’d prefer not to take a shuttle this year but I saw the shuttles as we were driving and they seemed as safe as possible with runners spaced out wearing masks. The start was the same as the NH 10 miler so I won’t go in as much detail in this review. But basically runners are placed in groups of 99 runners based on finishing time and stand at numbered cones spaced 6 ft apart. Unlike the 10 miler this race they were a little behind on calling out the runners which is my only, real production complaint. I ended up starting about 20 to 30 mins later than my assigned time. Not a huge deal but it made timing pre-race fueling and bathroom a little difficult and also meant a larger amount of people congregating near the start. But the start was outdoors and a large area and everyone spread out in masks so again not a huge deal. Again they called your name out as you crossed the start line adding a personal touch. This race is net downhill which is nice. But don’t let that fool you there is still a lot of uphill and about 500 ft of elevation gain. The first 7 miles or so are through beautiful, rural New Hampshire countryside. The weather was absolutely perfect and the leaves were at their peak color changes. It was lovely and peaceful and mostly downhill and fast. The only uphills in this section were pretty small. The water stations now had cups that volunteers filled while wearing gloves and placed on the table instead of handing to you. This definitely seemed less wasteful than all the half full mini water and powerade bottles in the trash at the 10 miler. The water stops were about every 2 miles. I thought it was really cute and fun that instead of a giving a gel at mile 8 they gave little packets of maple syrup. It was a little risky since I never fueled with it but it was yummy, did not upset my stomach and worked as well as a gel and added to the New England experience. After the maple syrup I was not as excited about the giant, seemingly never ending hill at mile 8. I was on track to PR but did not bank enough energy or time for this hill which went past Concord hospital and up to a small area of trail and lasted over a mile. There is a then a small section on non-technical trail which is a nice break on the joints from asphalt but was mostly uphill still so not as great for the pace. After the trail it is about 4 miles through Concord that is mostly downhill and quite fast if you didn’t waste all your energy tackling the hill. I walked some of the hill to save energy for this part. Personally I really enjoyed this part as it went past my high school and my childhood neighborhood which brought out lots of nostalgic feelings and obscure memories from a simpler time. But may have just been a boring suburb to other runners. The course then ended at the state house which is definitely the most iconic building in Concord although I will admit my hometown doesn’t really have as many iconic buildings to show off as LA. The course was open to traffic this year (I don’t believe this is normally the case) which I wasn’t sure how it would work since while Concord also doesn’t have the traffic of LA it is a much busier city than the other races open to traffic I have run. But there were plenty of cops and volunteers directing traffic that it was very safe and traffic did not interfere with runners. The only minor issue was the shoulder to run on was a little narrow. There was plenty of room for yourself but it was sometimes tricky to pass other runners. At the finish line you got your medal and there were also snacks and drinks and a results area. The medal was very nice and big with changing color leaves. There were less post race snacks than usual but some fruit and other stuff. I didn’t take any since I was going to lunch with my parents right after but did grab an organic energy drink for my drive home after lunch. The finish line at the state house was great for a post race selfies as well. Overall this was a really great, New England half marathon. I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a New Hampshire half. It is the perfect time to visit New Hampshire. The weather should usually be great and the net downhill makes it a fast course. Even though I didn’t bank enough energy for the hill I still easily ran my second fastest half. Again the hill around mile 8 makes it a little hard to PR but if you did some hill training and banked your energy right you definitely could. While I didn’t think production was quite as smooth as the NH 10 miler I could not dock a sneaker given the impressive feat of holding a safe half marathon with nearly 1000 runners on open roads through the downtown of a small city with covid restrictions. There are a lot of other races on my bucket list that are held this weekend normally but I would definitely consider running this race again and would definitely recommend it for a NH half!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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