Your choices are almost endless. Without ever leaving the Boston metro area, you could run the free 2.5- and five-mile races around Fresh Pond in Cambridge that are held every Saturday morning at 10 a.m., or the legendarily competitive Falmouth Road Race in mid-August. But for your purposes, I’d suggest races that won’t be won by world-class pros and will allow you to enjoy New England's scenery. These are my favorites.
Mount Washington Road Race
You don’t run the 7.6-mile race up the auto road on 6,288-foot Mount Washington, New Hampshire, for time. You run it simply to finish. From start to end, you gain 4,600 grueling feet in elevation, and the temperature can drop 40 degrees along the way. This year's race is on June 16. Entry is by lottery only.
L.L. Bean Fourth of July 10K
If you spend a summer in New England, odds are good that you'll make a pilgrimage to Freeport, Maine, home to L.L. Bean and its flagship store. You might as well take in a race while you’re there. The Fourth of July 10K is fairly competitive—it drew nearly 1,500 runners last year—but very few people come from out-of-state. Miles two through four are basically a long climb on this scenic, hilly course by the Maine coast.
Stowe 8 Miler
This hilly event in the heart of the Green Mountains is probably the most famous race in Vermont, and for good reason. The course is one of the most scenic in the state, winding through the back roads of the resort town of Stowe, beneath the slopes of the state’s highest peak. A handful of running clubs from around New England converge on the Stowe 8 Miler to compete against each other, making the lead times unusually fast for a race in these parts. This year's race takes place July 15.
Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler
Newburyport, Massachusetts, is the Norman Rockwellian ideal of a charming New England coastal town, so much so that it’s overridden with tourists on peak weekends. But every summer for more than 50 years, it has hosted a classic, relatively flat 10-mile road race along the shoreline and through town, ending on the high school football field. More than 2,000 runners compete annually. If that's too long for you, there's a 5k race as well. The 2012 edition kicks off on July 31.