The nine states that make up the U.S. Northeast contain some of the country’s biggest cities, and spectacular natural scenery. Whether you enjoy running in urban jungles, in the Appalachian-backed highlands, or along the coast, chances are there’s a marathon that’s just right for you in this small but varied landscape.
We have found some of the most unique, picturesque, and just downright memorable marathon events in the U.S. Northeast.
Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Wind your way through the parks, streets, and historic landmarks of Philadelphia as you race to the finish at the beautiful steps of the Art Museum. As you run through Philadelphia, remember the history made by George Washington and Benjamin Franklin right under your feet with every step.
For those who are not ready for a full marathon, there are also half marathon and 8K options, and even a kid’s fun run, so the whole family can participate! The terrain is level and the weather is generally calm and well-suited for runners.
Where: Portland, Maine
The Maine Marathon is a Boston-qualifying full marathon, but there’s also the option to run a half marathon or a marathon relay. The out and back race course features both hilly and flat stretches, and the view for the majority of the race is the Back Cove of Maine’s beautiful Inner Bay.
Proceeds from the race benefit the Dream Factory of Maine, which is a charity that grants dreams to critically ill children.
Where: Boston, Massachusetts
The Boston Marathon is an event every serious runner wants to take on to prove their mettle. Just to apply as a possible participant, you’ll need to have qualifying times from USATF or AIMS certified courses.
Official participants will be selected from the pool of registrants based on age, gender, and fastest qualifying times. There is also the ability to gain entry by racing for one of their chosen charities. Either way, Boston is the one to run if you are serious about marathons.
Bonus benefit: Take part in the world’s longest-running marathon!
Where: Providence, Rhode Island
This race is a good one for those interested in qualifying for the Boston Marathon, as it is another qualifying race. The course for the Providence Marathon is mostly flat. However, you should be prepared for the incline at mile 23. With 2016 being its 9th year, it is considered the fastest growing and most affordable race in the Northeast.
This is a weekend-long event and includes the full marathon, half marathon, and 5K. All three races start at the same place and end at the same finish line, so that all racers enjoy the finish line celebrations. You can also register as teams, and fundraising is available for your favorite charity.
Where: Oceanport, New Jersey
The New Jersey Marathon is a point-to-point competitive race. It is also a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon. However, runners of any level will be able to participate. Besides the full marathon, there is a half marathon as well as a relay half marathon for those who enjoy a bit of team effort.
Even if you aren’t a runner, you can cheer on those who are from the beautiful oceanfront finish line. After the race, everyone celebrates at the Finish Festival just beyond the finish line with food, fun, and music.
Where: Pomfret, Vermont
While only a half marathon, Covered Bridges deserves mention because of its unique and scenic route. Racers will run by four iconic covered bridges as they travel along the course in Woodstock, Vermont. In order to maintain the intimate feel and accommodate the limited amount of parking, the race is currently capped at 2,300 participants and sells out within minutes of the opening of registration.
If you are interested in running, keep checking their website for the registration date and be sure to register as soon as it opens.
Where: New York, New York
Even nonrunners know about the New York City Marathon and the prestige of being able to say you finished it. When it comes to bucket lists, it’s right up there with the Boston Marathon.
While it is tough to gain entry, once you’ve secure a spot, you are cheered on by millions along the city streets and those watching on television.
Where: Piscataway, New Jersey
This unique marathon is held annually in celebration of National Trails Day. Participants that want to run the entire 34.6 miles of the Delaware & Raritan Canal Towpath meet early at Johnson Park in Piscataway. From there, you’re driven to Trenton for the race start. For runners that are not quite up to that distance, there will be shorter routes designated along the Towpath where you can be picked up and transported back to Johnson Park.
This is a noncompetitive group run on a trail, so there will be weeds to dodge, but the peaceful atmosphere, great views, and camaraderie promise to make it worth the effort.
Where: South Hero, Vermont
What better motivation to keep running than a picture perfect landscape? If you have never seen New England in the fall, then this is a race you can’t miss. The route of the Green Mountain Marathon, another Boston qualifier, runs through picturesque farms, apple orchards, and cottages covered in the vibrant colors of the season.
The terrain is flat as well as rolling, and some sections feature well-maintained dirt roads, so be ready for variety!
Where: Bar Harbor, Maine
Voted the 2015 race of the year by “New England Runner Magazine,” the Mount Desert Island Marathon features an Instagram opportunity at every turn. The Boston-qualifying course includes rolling hills, steep inclines, and breathtaking views throughout.
The first hill is a 3-mile, 150-foot climb with other hills along the way, but the reward will be the 1.2-mile downhill race to the finish line!