First Light Marathon

20 Jan 2024

Race Information

Read all about the details!

Here you will find all the important practical information about the race, such as rules and regulations, training, timing, race day support, clothing, weather and more. If you don’t find the answer you’re seeking, feel free to contact us with your question.

Topics are arranged in alphabetical order.


Aotearoa New Zealand is located in the Souther Hemisphere, which means that January is summer. Daytime temperatures will be warm and humid, meaning runners should wear light, moisture-wicking clothing. It will be chilly before the sun rises, so warm overclothes are recommended at the start. Remember your sunscreen and sunglasses! 

Cut-off Times

The race officially ends at 13:30. This means that both marathon runners and half-marathon runners have a cut-off time of 8 hours.
For the MARATHON there is a 4 hours cut-off time half-way (at 21km)
Any runners left on the route after this cut-off time will be collected by car.


The First Light Marathon features two distances:

Full marathon - 42.195km/26.2mi

Half marathon - 21.1km/13.1mi

Distance Change

It is possible to change the distance you want to run up to 10 days before the race starts. All you need to do is contact us with your request.

If you want to change your distance while on tour, contact a race official before or after the race briefing. You must bring your original race number!

Change of distance is NOT PERMITTED on Race Day.


Full marathon runners must be at least 18 years old on race day.

Half marathon runners must be at least 16 years old.

Future Race Dates

The First Light Marathon of 2024 will be the 20th of January. 

Registration opens 28th April 2023! 

Goodie Bag

Runners on the 5-days package will receive their goodie bags at the Powhiri, the Maori welcome, on the 19th January. The goodie bag will contain your start/bib number, timing chip, official race T-shirt, information on the race route, and schedule for your trip. 

Runners from New Zealand who signed up for the race only, can pick their goodie bag up in the start/finish area the 19th of January between 6 pm and 8 pm.

Medical Team

On race day, a local medical team will provide medical assistance to runners in need. The medical team reserves the right to remove any runner who is deemed unable to complete the race. Please note that all decisions made by the medical team or race officials are final.


After the Powhiri, on race day, and at the celebration dinner, a variety of exclusive First Light Marathon merchandise can be purchased. 

Additional information regarding the selection of available merchandise will be available soon. 

Personal Belongings

It is possible to deposit bags with personal items in the start/finish area for use before and after the race. Please mark your bag clearly with your name and bib number. 

Although the luggage area is manned, depositing personal belongings in the area is entirely each runner’s responsibility and the First Light Marathon organizers are not responsible for loss or damage of personal belongings.  


Finisher photos and other race images can be purchased after the race from

Prizes and Awards

All finishers receive a medal. A small, symbolic prize is given to the winners of both distances for men and women. Please note that there is no prize money.

Race Briefing

Race officials will provide all participants with a race briefing at the hāngi lunch on the 19th of January, which will cover everything from a preliminary weather forecast to a brief presentation of the important route notes.

Race officials and medical staff will be present to answer any questions you may have. Official First Light Marathon merchandise will also be available for purchase.

Race Officials Disclaimer

The race officials reserve the right to change the course and other aspects of the race without advance notice. Please note that all decisions made by the race officials and/or medical team are final.



In order to register for the race, you MUST enter with one of the following options. These options vary depending on your place of residency (NZ resident or non-NZ resident).

Additional information is available below, or here.

International Participants

For international participants, race entry is only possible in conjunction with a multi-day tour package. The packages include all the ingredients for a fantastic getaway: accommodation, social events, sightseeing, and select meals and transportation per the itinerary. Packages also generally include ample amounts of free time, during which you can choose to join organized excursions or explore the region at your own pace. 

In the First Light Marathon, you'll be among the first in the world to greet the day's sun as you tackle this tough course. Before and after the race, you can dive into learning about the rich Maori culture, embark on adventurous excursions, and relax with world-class wine and delicious food in this stunning corner of Aotearoa New Zealand. 


Residents of Aotearoa New Zealand 

Participants who meet the necessary residency requirements are eligible for local entry, which includes only the race. 

Please note: If you are looking to enjoy an extended holiday in Tairāwhiti Gisborne and reside elsewhere in Aotearoa New Zealand, it is certainly possible to join the standard international package. 

Please contact us for details.


Registration Deadlines

Registration closes one month before race date. 

Route Map & Elevation Profile

For information on the marathon and half-marathon routes, start and finish line, drink stations and other course-related information, see Route & Elevation.


Rules & Regulations

Change of Distance: If you decide to change distance during the race, the race result will read FNT (finished no time). All runners who change distances before race day will be registered accordingly and receive an official time.

Top Finishers: The top three male and female finishers of all distances are the first three to physically cross the finish line regardless of their net time.

Gear: Nordic walking and trekking poles are not allowed.

Start / Bib Numbers

You will receive your start/bib number in the race goodie bag.

All runners will receive one bib number that must be worn during the race. It must be attached to the front of your body and readable - both for safety and for photography purposes! The bib numbers are color-coded according to the distance you are running.

Time Taking & Results

Timing is done with a chip which will come in the goodie bag that runners receive. Live results will be available from the Results page.


Remember, January is summertime in the southern hemisphere. Summer is the driest season in Tairāwhiti Gisborne, but the chance of rain is still around 20% each day. Daytime temperatures will be warm and humid, on average around 24°C / 75°F. You can read more about the weather and climate here