Pick of the Week- NZ’s Busiest Trail Run Week?, Kepler Report

The week starting on the 28th of November to the 5th of December was possibly the busiest week for trail/mountain running in NZ all year. It started with the Heaphy Five 0 on Saturday the 28th. The race had a turnout similar to a ski mountaineering race in NZ, with only 35 on the start line for the 2nd running of this race. Heavy rain and reports of chest high rivers added to slower times than last year and the race was won by Dave Heatley in 7hr57min.
On the Sunday Mal Law started out on his 7 in 7 Challenge, an epic 360km on the 7 “Great Walks” of NZ.
As Mal was running the Milford Track on Friday, top mountain runners in the North and South Island were making their way to The Goat in the north and The Kepler Challenge in the south, were Mal would finish his 7in7 quest.
Sjors Corporaal won his 3rd Goat, while in Te Anau Martin Lukes also won his 3rd title and Mal Law finished the 7in7 in 66hrs.
All 4 of these adventures are ones that I would love to tackle one day and at this stage I am guessing the first in line for me will be The Kepler, hopefully in a year’s time! I started bugging MattB (whom I raced with at the Molesworth) before he even made it off the wait list, for a race report. Here is what Matt had to say of his 6th Kepler-
“Well I guess it would have been nicer to write about a great day running, but that’s not what happened and as Grant asked, I’ll write something anyway.
Kepler 09 was to be my 6th, and I was hoping for a time under 6 hours. I had recovered well after Molesworth, a course of antibiotics had cleared up some pus and I felt as good as ever. 2 hard runs in a row isn’t really a problem. It turns out that 5 in 3 months might be. We turned up on Thursday evening for 4 nights camping, it’s usually a great weekend in Te Anau. Went over to registration for Ann who was running the Grunt, and for me to find out what the waitlist process was. I was still at #36, things weren’t looking good as a few wait listers were expected to turn up. I eventually got in at 9pm on the Friday evening.
6am and we’re off. Ran really comfortably with a couple of friends to Brod Bay, and things went pear shaped from there. I let them go while I fixed a blister. They’d all go on to run between 5:55 and 6:05. Got up the hill and fixed the Blister again. Had my 1st inkling that sub 6 wasn’t on as I was the same pace as last year. Turns out I just couldn’t get over to Iris Burn fast enough. Bummer, it was the warmest it’s ever been, no need for Beanie, Jacket and Gloves. Got there in 3:11, you need to be there in 3:00-3:05 for a sub 6. Oh well, try and break 6:19 instead.

Moved down the valley, stopping to eat and drink every 3k, which is nicely marked by 15 traps 😉 Was going nicely in about 30th, but getting passed by the odd bloke moving quickly. Although I’d always get one back at an aid station. Some people just seem to take a long time at them. Moturau to Rainbow Reach went nicely. I started picking off guys who’d gone too hard. Felt good, just like last time. Nice, if this keeps up I’ll be fine. Straight through Rainbow Reach with the Red Bull I’d stashed the day before. Worked hard on passing another guy who’d flown past earlier. 2k down the track it was all over red rover. I was as empty as I’ve ever been. I walked most of the next 6k but not being passed that often. Everyone was struggling. I did manage to run the last 2k, Pride, and clock 6:42. Not my best work and felt pretty wasted for the rest of the day.

Matt crossing the line at the ’09 Kelper

What did I learn? Running 5 Ultras in 3 months is good fun. I’d do more if I could. But ‘racing’ them is going to catch up on you if you’ve done no training. I had 3 weeks off after the 1st 100k, then ran a 56k and 200k on consecutive weekends. 3 more weeks off and then 85k, followed by more time off and then Kepler. I knew I was getting slower, I was also getting lazy with my nutrition and hydration and general race preparation. So back to square one and prepare properly and have some fun.
Te Anau was a good time. Ann had a great run, had an awesome time with the kids and caught up with some good friends. Only 360ish days to go before we have another go.
Matt”

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