Russell running his 10th Kepler Challenge in 2010


The 25th Kepler Challenge, New Zealand’s all time mountain running race, is now less than 1 month away and Kepler legend, the former 4hr41min course record holder and 6x winner, Russell Hurring again shares his experiences on the race he made his own during the 90′s.  This is the final prep piece from from Russell and this is the 5th in a series of Kepler related posts in the lead up to the 25th annual Kepler Challenge.

KEPLER CHALLENGE – FINAL PREPARATION, STAYING POSITIVE- By Russell Hurring We are now in final countdown mode for the 2012 Kepler Challenge and it is time to adjust preparation accordingly. The training you have done up till now, whether it is truly impressive or disappointing, is all you have to work with. You cannot make yourself any fitter between now and race day. But you can certainly shoot yourself in the foot with fatigue or compromised health by overdoing it. Devising a race plan from an honest assessment of your condition is the secret to keeping a positive mind set throughout the day and achieving your best possible result. Here are two lists of variables and some pointers for dealing with them based on what I do. In the first list are those that you cannot control or change. You must accept the situation created by these factors in a successful plan.


  • Training History- Most will think they should have trained more. But nearly everyone will finish the event. Plan for what you have done.
  • Niggly sore body bits - Be prudent if sore bits are getting worse and don’t improve with rest. You may be best to think about deferring to 2013. Be pain free on the start line. Ease right up on training. Get a massage. If it’s usual, do yoga, stretch gently.
  • Track & weather conditions- Follow the weather and track reports especially those given at the Friday night briefing to be prepared for what race day brings. But do not count on favourable conditions. Plan to be adaptable, have warm clothing readily accessible and put it on early.

This second list has many factors that will make or break your Kepler Challenge. Taking all possible control of them will keep your thinking positive and support a top performance. Good luck.


  • Residual Fatigue- Taper your training right off. Training benefits come in recovery. Get some extra sleep before prerace nerves interfere. Don’t worry about lost sleep in the last day or two. Stretching & yoga are helpful if customary for you.
  • Nervous Tiredness- A very normal feeling that encourages you to rest up for the effort ahead. It doesn’t feel right but it’s positive for a good performance.
  • Prerace Fluids- Travelling can cause dehydration. Drink plenty before race day but go easy on caffeine and alcohol.
  • Prerace Evening Meal- Go for something you like, that you know from past experience will sustain you and not cause stomach upsets. Better to have a meal that settles well in the stomach than get too hung up on nutrient balances.
  • Race Day Breakfast Race Day Breakfast Again first and foremost go for easy on the stomach and familiar, preferably with some protein and not too sweet. Avoid starting with elevated blood sugar. Time of eating & digestion can be concerns. Do what you know works for you. It’s not too late to try some runs straight after breakfast to get used to it and see how you manage. Starting a little slower to keep the stomach settled is better than getting up hours early to digest breakfast.
  • Start Line Attitude- A humble, doubtful attitude helps to set up the internal focus needed to monitor your body and manage it steadily along the track. The overconfident racer approach so often leads to missed cues of thirst, hunger, soreness and the day can suddenly become very long and hard.
  • Race Execution- Hold focus, monitor condition. Take all planned walking breaks. Have a drinks and food plan that works for you. Stick to the plan. Above all enjoy the camaraderie of other competitors and the beautiful Fiordland landscape. There will be bad patches. They pass. Fatigue hurts but it passes too and is forgotten. Success is sweet and memorable. Savour.

One final message, don’t be caught out the day before the race by the book you will receive in your race pack this year. “Calling Them Home, the story of the Kepler Challenge” by Noel Walker is a very engaging read with lots of inspiring photos. But you need to be resting, and hopefully sleeping, dreaming about a top performance – not reading great yarns about the exploits of others.   Have a good one- Russell.

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