The Fresh Choice Kepler Challenge Mountain Run is described as "the jewel in NZ's mountain running calendar", while it's sister event the Fresh Choice Luxmore Grunt is justifiably respected. Both events are organized by a voluntary committee with the support, on race day, of approximately 200 Te Anau residents. This gives the event a truly "community" feel.
The Kepler event has been held annually on the first Saturday in December since 1988, and follows the 60km Kepler Track. Starting at the Control Gates of Lake Te Anau the route follows an easy first 6km before it takes a steady climb to the Luxmore Hut. The next 12km offer wonderful views of the South Fiord along the undulating tops before a spectacular descent to the Iris Burn Hut. A gradual 17km journey down the Iris Burn brings competitors to the Moturau Hut on Lake Manapouri and from there a 6km run to the last checkpoint at Rainbow Reach. The home straight follows alongside the Waiau River and back to the Control Gates.
This is the 29th year of this popular event and it remains the premier Mountain Running event in New Zealand. Competitors are drawn from all corners of New Zealand as well as around the globe. The men's race record of 4:33:37 was set by Martin Dent in 2013. Zelah Morrall set the women’s record of 05:23:34 in 2003.
The concurrent Luxmore Grunt event follows the same route as far as the Luxmore Hut, then returns via the same route back to the Control Gates. This is not to be sneezed at as it is 27km of "hard yakka" living up to its name.
The Kepler is the intersection for Trail, Mountain and Ultra runners, as well as marathon runners in New Zealand. This aligns perfectly with the Altra Running brand and its wide product range
This year race entries open on Saturday, 2nd July at 6.30am. Check the Kepler Facebook next week for this information.
Kepler Challenge Website- keplerchallenge.co.nz
Kepler Challenge Facebook Page- facebook.com/KeplerChallenge