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 ran a half marathon in Vermont (Covered Bridges Half Marathon, Vermont-9th state) but I hadn’t ran 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.
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 is a very low-key race as you might imagine, being in such a small town. You can expect 100-200 people for this race most years. The 40th annual Dixville Half Marathon was September 24, 2016. It just goes to show even small towns can keep a race going for many years with enough support! 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.
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 race begins on Diamond Pond Road but the majority of the course is on Route 26, with parts along the Mohawk River. With the fall foliage at its peak, the scenery is nice as you wind along the countryside at a very gradual downhill descent. There are views of farms, barns, and pasture but not much else including spectators.
The course drops 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. All runners have free access to the recreation center to change and take a shower after the race. This race is so small and low-key the race wasn’t even chip-timed. I did manage 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. Food at the finish was the usual bananas, bagels, etc. but there was some food available for purchase that was more filling. They also had music with a local band and it was a nice day so we hung out for a while on the grounds of the recreational center, after I took a shower and changed into dry clothes.
From my post-race notes: “Dixville Half Marathon was called “a scenic, downhill course along the Mohawk River,” but while there were some downhill portions, also had many steep uphill portions so it was quite difficult. There were no spectators along the course, even where possible (by homes or businesses), only volunteers with water/Gatorade. Last tenth of a mile was up a hill. Finished in 1:57 (was not chip timed). Long-sleeve unisex shirts were on the large size and were ok, food was average, and the only medals were for top three in age groups. I finished second in my age group so I did get a silver medal, which looked like an average race medal. Weather was perfect for the majority of the race but was getting hot by the end (mid-60’s). Was nice to have a shower on-site at the finish. Hung out for a bit on the grounds of the rec center and listened to some local music.”