Whether you are looking to race a fast, flat 10 km, a 53km trail ultra with 2250 metres of elevation gain or anything in between, Christchurch has an event for you. An abundance of trails cover the port hills and line our beautiful garden city, which, following the 2011 earthquake, is a glorious mix of modern and historic. Bottle lake forest boasts kilometre upon kilometre of forest trails and Sumner and New Brighton make for great fast beachside runs.
Take a trip to Christchurch to run one of the events for yourself, and while you are here, experience what our gorgeous city has to offer. Wander down The Terrace and have a drink at one of the many new bars along the river, enjoy a Rollickin Gelato on New Regent Street, tempt your taste buds at the Riverside Market or, for the best way to explore the city or trails, book one of the Christchurch Running Tours.
ASB Christchurch Marathon
DATE: 16 April 2023
DISTANCE: Marathon, Half Marathon, 10km and Kids Mara’Fun
The biggest running event in Christchurch, celebrating its 41st Anniversary in 2023, is the ASB Christchurch Marathon. Conveniently held every year on the Sunday before Queen’s Birthday (public holiday the first Monday of June) and therefore perfect for those travelling to the event, the Christchurch marathon attracts the top runners at the marathon, Half marathon and 10km distances from New Zealand and abroad.
While the event is in its 41st year, the major earthquake in 2011 created struggles for the organisers and the historical 1974 commonwealth games course was no longer runnable. Amazingly, in 2011, a last-minute alternative course was made in Lincoln, a small town just out of Christchurch. 2012 saw the marathon moved to the outskirts of the city and another alternative course created near the airport.
After taking in the sights of the city and soaking up the incredible atmosphere of this event, you will finish back outside the town hall in the central city, perfect for a post-run drink or snack at one of the city’s many great food spots.
If you are in Christchurch the day of the marathon but not keen on racing, Little Poms is one of Christchurch’s top cafes and sits on the main corner of the course which runners competing in every distance pass. This is a great spot to enjoy a coffee or delicious breakfast while watching the competitors run by.
Crater Rim Ultra
DATE: 15 October 2023
DISTANCE: 53km, 30 km, 21km, 10km and Kids Park Dash
If you love the trails, this race is for you. With distances to cater for everyone, from the kid’s dash right through to the 53km ultra, the Crater Rim Ultra can be enjoyed by the whole family. The 53km event includes a boat trip to Diamond Harbour, where the race starts and follows the crater rim of a long-extinct volcano, looping all the way around the bays back to the finish line at Hansens Park in Christchurch.
The event attracts athletes of all abilities from those attempting their first trail run, right through to the top trail runners, as this event also doubles as both Oceania and New Zealand Trail Running champs. Every course, regardless of the distance you choose, offers spectacular views and a few hills to challenge you. It is a very well-run event by a local running club – Port Hills Athletic. All distances finish at Hansens Park where participants receive a free lunch to enjoy in the relaxed atmosphere while celebrating their successes and watching other competitors finish.
I can’t reiterate enough how stunning the views on this course are. If you can’t time your trip to Christchurch to coincide with this event, try my Run the Rim Trail or Christchurch Trail Trot for 14k and 9k trail tours covering parts of these courses with the same stunning views. For a sneak preview of views, trails and the race day smile you can expect, check out last year’s race video.
Christchurch Garden City Run
If you’re travelling to Christchurch and not signing up for one of the main running races, then the Christchurch Garden City 10K is a great way to see the green side of the city. This run is a private tour that takes you through beautiful gardens and past some of the main city sights, from the Botanical Gardens and Avon River Trail to Cardboard Cathedral and the Earthquake Memorial.
4 Paws Marathon
DATE: 1st October 2023
DISTANCE: Marathon, Half Marathon, 15km, 10km, 5km and 2.4km Rascal’s Run
Taking place in Christchurch’s spectacular Bottle Lake Forest, a 1000 hectare pine forest set up with 100’s of tracks for runners and bikers, the 4 Paws Marathon is one unique event. Taking runners through the forest and along the beach to the beautiful spot where the Waimakariri River meets the sea, the scenery of this event really is something else.
This event is also unique in that runners are able to run with their best “4 pawed” friend – their dogs. A tribute to your dogs who run with you on a daily, this special event lets you participate with your dog alongside you. For all the dog lovers out there, whether you have your own dog to run with or just want to enjoy the uniqueness of this event, it is a great day out and an enjoyable course.
With the above races on offer, as well as many more, I hope everyone gets the chance to come to Christchurch and experience one of these events for themselves. If you are short on time when you visit or would prefer a more relaxed run, be sure to check out the running tours on offer which enable you to take in all the sights while learning about the city with your local guide.
I hope to see you all out running in this beautiful city in the near future.
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