I wondered if there was some irony in the name as Johannes Kepler, a 17th Century German astronomer discovered that planets travel in an elliptical orbit. Turns out, it was James McKerrow - an early surveyor, who named the Kepler range in 1862, long before the track was built.
In 2011, Vajin Armstrong ran across the finish with Zen-like calm, completing the 60 kilometre run in 5.01.54 seconds and Victoria Beck came in at 5.51.28. While Stuart Doyle of Canberra won the Luxmore Grunt (up to Luxmore Hut and back) in 2:04:17, and Jess Simpson of Wanaka won the Woman’s Grunt in 2:18:39.
I caught up with Steve Norris, the Chairmen of the Race Committee and owner of Trips and Tramps Fiordland before I left Te Anau. He and his team are planning for the Asics Kepler Challenge 25th Anniversary celebrations this year. According to Norris, the hardest part of the Challenge is getting registered. In 2011, the 450 places were booked out in less than seven minutes. Norris says “I received my first irate phone call at 6.45am from a “would be” competitor, in Germany, who had missed out.”
The moral of the story? If you want to enter this year’s Challenge or Grunt, on the first Saturday in July at 6.30am (NZ time) you need to be on line early to get registered. If you decide that wandering the track like a mere mortal, check out the Department of Conservation website and remember that even walkers need to book months in advance!