This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. New Hampshire was my 35th state.
Before I chose this race, my daughter’s best friend from grade school had recently moved several states away from us to Vermont. My daughter missed her greatly and kept asking when she could go and visit her. I had already run a half marathon in Vermont (Covered Bridges Half Marathon, Vermont-9th state) but I hadn’t run one in New Hampshire. I knew how close parts of Vermont and New Hampshire can be so I started looking up half marathons in New Hampshire. Beyond belief, I found a race about a half an hour from my daughter’s friend’s house- the Dixville Half Marathon in Colebrook, New Hampshire and I signed up for the 2015 race.
Most people probably have no idea where Colebrook is or what there is to do there. Let me save you the trouble and tell you it is in the far northernmost corner of New Hampshire, bordering on Vermont, and about 45 minutes from the Canadian border. It is a very remote portion of the United States, sparsely populated, with not much to do. I had a very hard time finding a decent place for my family and I to stay, with such limited availability, and there are only a handful of restaurants anywhere within a 20-30 minute drive of Colebrook. However, as I mentioned, Colebrook is close to the Canadian border and Montreal is only about 2 and 1/2 hours away by car. I can’t recommend visiting Montreal enough. The architecture, food, and things to do are all unique and well-worth a visit. See Montreal, a City Unlike Any Other.
The Dixville Half Marathon was a very low-key race as you might imagine, being in such a small town. Most years there have been 100-200 runners for this race. Packet pickup was at Coleman State Park the day of the race. We received a long-sleeve t-shirt of nice quality but nothing extraordinary. It was unisex sized and a bit on the large side for me.
Typically, the nights get quite chilly in northern New Hampshire the end of September and I was glad the race didn’t start until 10:30 am, since it allowed some extra time to warm up just enough for nice running weather. The weather was perfect for the majority of the race but it started to get hot by the end, when it was in the mid-60’s.
The race began on Diamond Pond Road but the majority of the course was on Route 26, with parts along the Mohawk River. With the fall foliage at its peak, the scenery was nice as we wound along the countryside at a very gradual downhill descent. Although the course was called “a scenic, downhill course,” there were also many steep uphill portions that were quite difficult. There were views of farms, barns, and pasture but not much else including spectators.
The course dropped by about 1,200 feet in elevation, with the last stretch going through town streets of Colebrook and finishing at the North Country Community Recreation Center. In a quite cruel twist, the last tenth of a mile was up a steep hill. One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is this race was so small and low-key it wasn’t even chip-timed. Someone wrote down all finishers’ times, and a portion of each finisher’s bibs were tacked up on a huge board in order. My finish time was 1:57.
All runners had free access to the recreation center to change and take a shower after the race. Since it was a nice day and there was music with a local band playing, I decided to take a shower and change clothes then hang out for the awards ceremony. I managed to finish second in my age group, so I won a silver medal. Medals weren’t given out to all of the finishers; only the top three in each age group.
I enjoyed this race even though it’s super small in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. It was great weather and the people were friendly and it was just a perfect day to run a half marathon in New Hampshire. Just don’t plan on spending much time here because there honestly isn’t much to do!
The 44th annual Dixville Half Marathon was scheduled for September 26, 2020. It just goes to show even small towns can keep a race going for many years with enough support!