More than 1,000 runners and walkers take part each year in the annual early-spring running of the Great Bay Half Marathon, now something of an annual rite of spring in this town just off the coast of New Hampshire, with its hilly and challenging course.
The race takes participants on a scenic tour of the Great Bay Estuary and National Wildlife Refuge, a 1,000-acre park filled with marshes, beaver ponds and pine and oak forests that are home to abundant waterfowl, river otters, foxes, turtles, and many other species of wildlife.
Starting a couple of years ago, organizers also added a 5K race called the Beyond the Rainbow 5K, and proceeds from the race will be donated to Exeter Hospital’s Beyond the Rainbow Fund, which provides assistance to families fighting cancer.
The 13.1-mile race course starts in the small mill town of Newmarket, following paved roads for the first two and a half miles, with some gentle rolling hills thrown in along the way.
Between miles 2 and 3, the course changes to a gravel road with more rolling hills for the next two and a half miles, and treats runners and walkers to views of the area’s historic stone walls, hay fields and forest lands.
Once you reach mile 5, the most scenic portion of the race begins as the course enters the Great Bay Estuary, and the terrain changes back to paved surfaces for this coastline road.
While on the Bay’s scenic road, participants are cautioned to stay on the left-hand side throughout the remainder of the race, as it will remain open to automobile traffic. The next 3 to 4 miles offer some steep hills followed by long, gradual downhills, and are considered the most challenging part of the course.
After mile 9, the course enters the Moody Point area and becomes flatter and easier, and includes ample breathtaking views of the Great Bay.
The last few miles of the race take participants out of the more natural landscape and back into the neighborhoods of Newmarket, with Cape Cod-style architecture and breathtaking views of the scenic areas nearby.
Race Weather & Climate
In Newmarket, a small town just inland from New Hampshire’s Great Bay, springtime weather conditions can still be quite cold, and Newmarket sees some of its wettest weather of the year in April, a month that has brought record temperatures as low as 9 degrees (in 1964) and as high as 95 degrees (in 1941).
On race day (April 9), the average low is 33ºF and the average high is 56ºF.
- 2015 Great Bay Half Marathon Results
- 2014 Great Bay Half Marathon Results
- 2013 Great Bay Half Marathon Results
- 2012 Great Bay Half Marathon Results
- 2011 Great Bay Half Marathon Results
- $50 – $70 for the half marathon
- $25 – $35 for the 5K
To reserve your spot in the 2017 running of Newmarket’s Great Bay Half Marathon or Beyond the Rainbow 5K race, register online at imATHLETE.com here.
Official Race Website
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