Christchurch-based MAS Member Dr John Molloy is a firm believer in exercise as medicine. It’s something that informs his work as a sport and exercise physician, his hobby as an avid runner and his passion project: organising the 4 Paws Marathon.

John ran his first marathon as a medical student nearly 20 years ago and has tackled more than 90 since then – as well as 14 Ironman Triathlons and a handful of 100 mile runs. Having experienced the benefits of exercise himself and seeing it in his patients, John was inspired to create the 4 Paws Marathon in 2019, an off-road walking and running event.

Now in its fourth year, the event offers distances from the 2.4 kilometre (for kids), 5km, 10km, 16km, half marathon and full marathon distances, with all entrants taking part with their canine companions. The 2022 event took place on Sunday 2 October with a record number of (human) entrants.

John says, “Low fitness is our silent modern-day killer, but dogs are one of our best allies in keeping active. Several studies have shown that dogs are powerful motivators to get people moving, and people who own dogs are generally more active than those who don’t. The 4 Paws Marathon is one of the few events in the world where dogs are actually invited to exercise with their owners, and it’s all about finishing with your best friend.”

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Runners and their dogs participating in the 4 Paws Marathon