Athletes take part in run in spirit of Kepler Challenge

Queenstown runners Connie and Adam Carlson take a photo at the Lake Te Anau Control Gates at the start of the unofficial Luxmore Grunt on Saturday. Photo: Supplied

THERE were wet but warm conditions for 15 hardy souls who lined up at 6am on Saturday, at what would have been the official start of the 34th Kepler Challenge.

Some of the 15 runners who took part were running for fun as they were unable to take part on January 15 selected by organisers due to Covid-19.

Runners from throughout the South Island, including Canterbury and Otago, set off on Saturday morning.

Queenstown husband and wife Adam and Connie Carlson said they started the Luxmore Grunt (27km) at 7am.

“We came today because we had a chance and thought it would be good for the town too.

“We are coming back for the January event and looking forward to that.”

Adam ran his first Kepler in 2016 and Connie had completed the race three times.

Congratulatory comments on the Kepler Challenge Facebook page were all the support they needed from other runners and most said it was their favourite and most memorable race.

Some said it was very challenging to do it unsupported or self-supported but definitely rewarding.

Comments posted called for them to get an official medal, with one comment from a United States runner saying they couldn’t wait to attend again.

Kepler Challenge organising committee chairman and race director Steve Norris said he heard some runners had started at 6am, but had no idea of numbers.

“There were quite a few runners on the track on Saturday, one of our staff was doing a guided walk, and commented on it.

“I would say some were ones that had tickets booked to come down here, so decided to come and go for a run anyway, as the January 15 date didn’t work for them.”

The official Challenge was all set to go for January 15 “unless events dictate we can’t otherwise”, he said.

Both the Kepler Challenge (60km) and Luxmore Grunt events were full, with 650 competitors for both races, with no provision for a waitlist.