I can't speak to the Providence Marathon, but I did NJ in 2006 and 2007 and am training to do it this year. It was a nice 2 loop race that ran concurrently with the half-marathon, but in recent years I heard it got a bit congested. However, this year there are 2 BIG changes - it is now a 1 loop course with more miles along the ocean and going through more beach towns AND the marathon will start a half hour prior to the half marathon. I think both of these points will greatly improve the race. I have exchanged emails with staff of the NJM and they are always willing to respond and answer questions and I remember it being a well organized event. I live in NYC so this is a good local race for me.