Sunday 6th October 2024

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When and where is the event being held?

    The event will take place on Sunday 6th October 2024 in Bottle Lake Forest, Christchurch (Waitikiri Drive). Bottle Lake Forest is a 1000 hectare pine forest for shared use (walkers/runners, mountain bikers, and horses). It is also a popular place for dogs to exercise and dogs are permitted off lead. Parts of the half marathon, 32.2km, and full marathon course will be run on Spencer Park Beach and New Brighton Beach.

  • Why is the event being held?

    The event is being run to promote ‘exercise is medicine’ and is also a tribute to our dogs who keep us active. The event organiser’s aim is to provide participants with a safe and enjoyable exercise experience with their dogs whilst utilising an event atmosphere.

  • Is there any medical support?

    Yes, medical support will be provided by St John’s and veterinarian support by Ourvets.

  • When do entries open and close?

    Entries open 1 April 2024 and close on 22 Sep 2024. Enter early to take advantage of early bird prices. There will be no race day entry.

  • What does my entry pay for?

    Public liability insurance, medical and veterinarian support, refreshments at aid stations, toileting facilities, race bib with timing transponder attached, finishers medal (human & dog) for all distance categories, and a free drink voucher for the post event function at Two Thumb Brewing Co. This event is driven by passion not profit.

  • How much does it cost to enter?

    This event is driven by passion not profit. The team at 4 Paws believe that these prices are very reasonable taking into account that owners as well as their dogs need to be catered and supported for.

    • Full marathon: Early $105 (1 April - 30 June), Standard $120 (1 July - 25 Aug), Late $135 (26 Aug - 22 Sep)
    • 32.2km: Early $85 (1 April - 30 June), Standard $95 (1 July - 25 Aug), Late $105 (26 Aug - 22 Sep)
    • Half marathon: Early $75 (1 April - 30 June), Standard $85 (1 July - 25 Aug), Late $95 (26 Aug - 22 Sep)
    • 16km: Early $60 (1 April - 30 June), Standard $70 (1 July - 25 Aug), Late $80 (26 Aug - 22 Sep)
    • 10km: Early $50 (1 April - 30 June), Standard $60 (1 July - 25 Aug), Late $70 (26 Aug - 22 Sep)
    • 5km: Early $35 (1 April - 30 June), Standard $45 (1 July  - 25 Aug), Late $55 (26 Aug - 22 Sep)
    • 2.5km: Early $20 (1 April - 30 June), Standard $25 (1 July  - 25 Aug), Late $30 (26 Aug - 22 Sep)


  • Can all dogs participate?

    The intention of this event is to cater for all dogs but for the safety of other dogs and participants, dogs that are classified as ‘dangerous or menacing’ must be kept on the lead and muzzled at all times. This policy will be reviewed annually.

  • Can I participate if I don’t have a dog?

    Yes you can but you will need to be tolerant of other people’s dogs.

  • What if I have 2 or more dogs?

    The reason the rules state only 1 dog per participant is for the safety of everyone (including other dogs). However, we also appreciate that dogs are like family and some participants will have more than 1 dog. Therefore, if you wish to take more than 1 dog, the primary dog owner must be accompanied at all times by another paying participant per extra dog i.e. for supervisory purposes, there needs to be 1 adult per dog. Please include relevant details for each dog when entering.

  • Does my dog need to be on the lead?

    The event has been created with freedom in mind. However, for safety reasons, all dogs will be required to be on the lead at the start/finish area. One kilometre from the start line, participants will be given the opportunity to have their dogs off lead if they are confident they can maintain effective control of their dog throughout the duration of the course. One hundred metres from the finish line, all dogs will be required to be back on lead again. Note: No retractable leads please. Dogs that are classified as ‘dangerous or menacing’ must be kept on the lead and muzzled at all times for the safety of other dogs and participants. Full marathon only: All dogs are required to be on lead for 10km from the 7km mark due to local bird habitat. This area will be signposted.

  • Can I walk instead of run?

    Absolutely! The focus of this event is on participation. Just please start behind the runners and be aware that course closure and medical/veterinarian support ceases from 3pm.

  • Do I need to worry about roads and vehicles?

    This is primarily an off road walking/running event. None of the roads that you will cross are open to public vehicles. Although the intention is for you to relax and run with your dog without having to worry about vehicles, there may still be some vehicles around (e.g. Bottle Lake Forest ranger vehicle, St John’s, veterinarian vehicle, stray public vehicle) so caution whilst crossing forestry roads/other roads is still advised. Caution is advised for 16/21/32/42km participants moving along the path next to Aston Drive for 800 metres as Aston Drive is a public road (will be signposted).

  • Are wheeled accessories allowed?

    Please no wheeled conveyances e.g. bikes, wheel chairs, child buggies (single sand tracks will make these problematic).

  • Is there any compulsory gear?

    Participants must carry dog leads (no retractable leads please) and biodegradable dog poop bags at all times. Dog poop bags will be provided in the registration pack.

  • Is there any recommended gear?

    The half marathon, 32.2km, and full marathon course has a small section (2.5km) where you run through sand dunes. Although not overly irritating, long racing socks / calf sleeves are recommended for those prone to plant contact allergy or anybody else seeking comfort.

  • Will I need to train?

    Do not confuse enthusiasm with ability. Training with your dog is recommended for all entry distances (considered essential for the half marathon, 32.2km, and full marathon).

    Thank you to our sponsor, The Balanced Dog, for providing our training plans.

  • What is the terrain like?

    The terrain is a mixture of pine forest trails, beach, dirt/gravel tracks, and sand trails to minimise the risk of paw burn. The courses are predominantly flat.

  • Is the half marathon hard?

    Yes. Although your dog will love you for this, the half marathon course is not a leisurely stroll through the forest or a frolic along the beach. Make sure you incorporate some sand running whilst sun bathing at the beach this summer.

  • Is the 32.2km mini-marathon hard?

    Yes. You'll be exchanging a few words with Jesus.

  • Is the full marathon hard?

    Yes. It is arguably the hardest off road 'flat' marathon in New Zealand (elevation gain of 110m). By the halfway mark your legs will be heavy and by the 30km mark, you'll wish you had 4 legs instead of 2.

  • How long will this take me?

    This is an off road event so will take longer than on road equivalents. The sandy trails also make the course more challenging and slower. An on road half marathoner who normally finishes around 1hr 50 min will be expected to finish around 2hr 20min. An on road marathoner who normally finishes around 4 hours would be expected to finish around 5hr 20min.

    2019 winning times:

    Marathon - 3hr 42 min

    Half Marathon - 1hr 45 min

    10km - 43 min

    5km - 27 min

  • Where and when is race registration?

    There will be three options for race registration this year:

    • Friday 4 October – Further Faster (57A Buchan Street, Sydenham) between 4-6pm.
    • Saturday 5 October – Bottle Lake Forest Visitor Centre (Waitikiri Drive) between 1-4pm.
    • Out-of-towners only – Sunday 6 October (race day) at Bottle Lake Forest Visitor Centre (Waitikiri Drive) between 7.30-9am. Full marathon and 32.2km race day registration by negotiation only.
  • Can someone else pick up my race registration pack?

    Yes. They will just need to know your name and what distance you have entered.

  • What are the event starting times?

    • Full marathon and 32.2km walkers start time 6.30am (compulsory race briefing 6.20am) * may need head torches
    • Full marathon & 32.2km runners start time 7.30am (compulsory race briefing 7.20am)
    • Half marathon & 16km start time 9am (compulsory race briefing 8.50am)
    • 10km start time 9.30am (compulsory race briefing 9.20am)
    • 5km start time 9.50am (compulsory race briefing 9.40am)
    • 2.5km start time 12pm (compulsory race briefing 11.50am)
  • Are there any cut-off times?

    There will be one cut-off time for the marathon only. Participants will need to pass the 32km mark by 1.15pm (i.e. by 5 hr 45 min which is a 10 min 50 sec per km pace). Marathoners who do not make the 1.15pm cut off time will be directed onto the final section of the 32.2km course and will receive an official finish under the 32.2km participant category.

  • Is there a time limit?

    Course closure and medical/veterinarian support ceases from 3pm. That gives you 7.5 hours to complete the marathon (8.5 hours for marathon walkers).

  • Is there event parking?

    There should be adequate race parking at the main parking areas at Bottle Lake Forest. Please follow event signage. Any overspill should park on Waitikiri Drive.

  • Is there somewhere to leave my gear?

    No, please leave all your gear in your vehicles.

  • Where are the aid stations?

    • 2.5km: 1.5km
    • 5km: 4km
    • 10km: 5km, 9km
    • 16km: 5km, 11km
    • Half marathon: 5km, 11km, 17km
    • 32.2km: 5km, 6.5km, 17.5km, 23km, 28.5km
    • Full marathon: 5km, 6.5km, 17.5km, 23km, 28.5km, 32km, 37km, 41km
  • What will be at the aid stations?

    Water, PURE Sports Nutrition electrolyte drink, fruit, chips, lollies, Vaseline, Eezapet pet balm, dog poop bags, and toileting facilities. As part of our commitment towards environmental sustainability this will be a cupless event.

  • Where are the toilets?

    At the start/finish line and co located with aid stations.

  • Are there any major hazards I need to be aware of?

    Please note that Bottle Lake Forest will be open to the public so respect the rights of other walkers/runners, mountain bikers, and horse riders. The majority of the course avoids mountain bike and horse tracks but you will cross these tracks so be cautious. The main horse/mountain bike intersections will be sign posted.

  • Do you have any course maps?

    Yes we do, they can be found next to their corresponding event on the Events page. Just click on 'View Course Map' next to the 'Enter Here' tab.

  • Will I get lost?

    There is a good chance you will get lost if you are not paying attention! The courses will be well marked with signage, pink ribbon, and distance markers every kilometre so keep an eye out for these. Generally go straight unless directed otherwise. If you are prone to getting lost, bring your mobile phone and a copy of the course maps with you. Each distance will have a tail end Charlie. GPX files can also be found in the 'Events' tab under each respective distance or in the FAQ 'Do you have GPX files of the courses?'.

  • Will there be kilometre markers?

    There will be distance markers every kilometre. Sections of the course used by all participants will have 'black' distance markers. Sections of the course specific to your race distance will have distance markers that will be the same colour as your designated race bib.

  • Do you have GPX files of the courses?

    Yes, here they are. Please note that these are a guide to navigation only and are subject to change.

    Verified as accurate as at 05/06/23.








  • What if my dog or I choose to retire?

    Please make your way to the nearest aid station and advise event marshals who will take down your race details for next year’s event.

  • Are there any prizes or a prize giving?

    The aim of this event is to promote participation with your dog and not winning and hence there is no prizegiving as such. However, there will be a post event function at Two Thumb Brewing Co on Manchester St (not Colombo St venue) with a major spot prize draw. Dogs are invited and doors open from 3pm with major spot prizes drawn at 5pm. Minor spot prizes will be given out at race registration and all finishers will receive a finishers’ medal.

  • Will there be any other refreshments?

    Lucky Road Coffee (mobile coffee trailer), Empire Chicken (Christchurch's number one restaurant for fried chicken and burgers), and The Gee Spot (serving fresh delicious food to events across Christchurch) will be present at the start/finish area. Christchurch favourite, Ice Cream Charlie, will also be present with their popular Classic Charlie sundaes. Ice Cream Charlie will also provide free fur baby tasting cones of Vanilla Ice for dogs. Please bring some money along with you.

  • Will there be race photos?

    Yes, race photos on the day can be purchased from Photos4sale (Pay What You Want!)

  • Is there any pet friendly accommodation in Christchurch?

    4 Paws recommends the following pet friendly accommodation providers:

  • Can I change my event distance or transfer my entry to someone else?

    Transfers between distances are permitted as long as any increase in fee is paid. There will be no partial refunds if downgrading. Transfers to another person are permitted but include a $20 processing fee. No person to person transfers or transfers between distances will be permitted from 22 September. Transfers apply to future years.

  • Can I get a refund?

    Refund protection is provided by XCover and can be purchased at the time of entering with a 14-day cooling off period (cannot be purchased retrospectively after entering). XCover will cover the cost of your entry fee only (not travel and associated expenses). Cover will be provided for certain unforeseen circumstances such as injury/illness/death to the participant or their immediate family, adverse weather conditions where the Police services or other Government agencies have issued warnings not to travel, court summons/jury service, private vehicle failure (including breakdown, fire, theft, accident), home emergency (burglary, fire) requiring the attendance of emergency services, military personnel called up overseas, and work relocation/redundancy. Please note, XCover will not provide a refund for ‘change of mind’ or if the event is cancelled by the organiser (see 4 Paws Marathon event cancellation refund policy below). See exactly what is covered in the XCover Terms and Conditions.

    XCover provides some COVID-19 cover. Cover will be provided if the participant or an immediate family member falls ill or passes away due to COVID-19 preventing them from taking part in the event as planned. Please note, not being able to participate due to a government travel ban, fear/concern of catching coronavirus, or change of mind will not be covered. Please be cognisant of the XCover Terms and Conditions.

    4 Paws Marathon event cancellation policy – In the event of any ‘Act of God’ (including but not limited to adverse weather conditions, unforeseen government lockdowns, war/invasion/enemy hostilities/terrorism, insurrection/civil commotion/or similar) causing cancellation of the event, total entry fees will generally be considered non-refundable. Any full or partial refund will be at the discretion of the event organiser taking into consideration the timing of any ‘Act of God’ instance and the event expenses incurred to date.

  • Is there an event reserve day?

    Unfortunately there will be no event reserve day. It is either the Sunday 6 October 2024 or the corresponding day in 2025.