Steve Norris- 2012 Kepler Challenge Race Director interview

Entry for the 25th Kepler Challenge open this Saturday, 7th July 2012, at 0630. With only 450 spots for what is arguably the most popular trail running event in New Zealand you can bet there will be up to 3 times that number in front of a computer trying to secure themselves entry. We felt it was a good time to touch base with Te Anau’s Steve Norris.

Backcountry Runner- Steve, thanks for taking time out to talk with us just a few days before entries open for the 25th Kepler challenge- how’s every thing looking, I am guessing you guys have it all sorted?

Steve Norris- Yes, we’re 99% certain everything is in place for online entries this Saturday at 6:30am (7 July). You can never say 100% with the computer world, Tim, the committee’s computer man is very confident, although in the same breath he said the night prior to online entries he never sleeps particularly well!!!

BCR- If you could Steve, give us a little background on your role with the Kepler Challenge and how long you have been involved
SN-I’ve been involved with the Kepler Challenge Organising committee for12 years now, and the last 6 as chairmen of the Organising Committee.

BCR- A lot of people say the hardest thing about running an ultra race is getting to the start line injury free, but some might argue the hardest thing about the Kepler is just getting an entry. Any tips for those of us that will be nervously staring at our computers at 6:25am this Saturday?

SN- Yes, I agree the hardest thing for the Kepler Challenge definitely seems to be securing a place. The standard line we tell everyone, is just ensure your online at 6:30am with your typing fingers all limbered up. In recent years the event has filled in less than 7 minutes, so if you’re on the computer at 6:30am you should get in. If however you go on the wait-list, don’t give up as traditionally there’s a lot of movement as the event gets nearer, with people withdrawing due to injuries, lack of training etc.

BCR- There are going to be around 450 pretty happy people around and maybe twice that very disappointed. Why do you think so many people want to race the Kepler Challenge each year?
SN- Yes, I agree the event probably causes a lot of disappointment to people due to not getting into the race, but because we operate in a National Park we work within a concession which allows us 450 runners each year in the Challenge, and 150 in the Grunt. For those that are lucky enough to be on the start line, I think it’s a combination of factors that give people a great experience, from their sense of personal achievement completeing the event after maybe 6 months of training, the nature of the comradeship between the runners throughout the race, the extraordinary lengths the volunteers go to, to make it a special event for the competitors. The fact it’s a circuit track on one of NZ’s great walks, spectacular views from the alpine environment across the tops, the relaxed nature of the Te Anau community over the whole weekend and many many more reasons we’re told by the competitors.

BCR- This will be the 25th Kepler which is pretty significant- anything special planned?

SN- This year being the 25th year, Noel and Sue Walker (Race commentators, and been involved with the event since year one) are writing a book on the first 25 years of the event. It’s bound to be full of informative, entertaining and fascinating reading. Complete with images of the event over the years.

BCR- And for the next 25 years? Where do you see this event going in the future?
SN-  The next 25 years- who knows, but as long as we have people keen to come to Fiordland from around the world and within NZ we’ll continue to strive to put on an enjoyable and well organised event for all to enjoy.

BCR- Many view the Kepler as NZ’s premier ultra/trail/mountain running race, the de facto championship. Any plans on making this a little more official?
SN-  Good question about making the event more officially the NZ championship race for ultra/trail/mountain running. Food for thought there, something we could look at, if the powers to be in the running circuits thought the event could fit this title.

BCR- Best Kepler memory?
SN-  The pleasure of seeing the enjoyment so many people get on completing the event, and having such a great experience in Fiordland over the race weekend.

Thanks for your time Steve!

A few notes on entry from the Kepler June news letter  that might help you out -

It will also help you to read about making sure your browser is ready

DO NOT REFRESH YOUR BROWSER during the registration process – this will
slow your connection. However, you must make sure you re-visit the page
within the half hour before entry time.

Follow the links (which will be displayed on the registration page from 6.30am Sat 7 July 2012) to the form of your chosen event. Fill in the relevant fields and submit the form and follow instructions. Fields include: 

Name, address, age etc 

Email address and confirmation

Previous Kepler/Luxmore events entered
Estimated event time
T-shirt and polo shirt orders inc size ($35/$45)
Sunday Breakfast orders ($25pp)

You will receive an email to the address you have supplied, confirming the status of your entry. Should you be successful in gaining a reserved place in the event of your choice, you will receive a reference number and request for payment. Online banking details will be supplied in this email.

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