Kepler Challenge – What an Adventure

Heather wrote an article a few weeks ago about her training in the great outdoors as she trained for the Kepler Challenge. This is her race report for the Kepler.

I was expecting to do the event in about 10 hours, but it took me 11 hrs 25 mins and 49 secs.  My left piriformis was really niggly a few days before (all the usual things didn’t make it feel better so I knew it was going to be a problem – bugger), and the stiff muscle morphed into a sore hip which then led to a really sore knee. Bugger.  Didn’t stop me though!

The race went well and I stuck to my plan.  The climb to Luxmore was easier and less steep than I expected (easier than the Pukaka/Mt Robertson climb).  The weather was rather extreme on the tops: gale force wind, rain/sleet, wind chill of -6˚.  I was running in all my gear (overtrou included) and I managed to stay warmish, but if I stopped I got cold very quickly.  I was being blown around by the wind which was a little nerve racking, but I found the conditions quite exhilarating.  Coming down off the tops on the long down was great fun – especially when I got out of the wind and rain – and I was laughing as I was running.  I realised at that point that I was going to finish!

Left Iris Burn hut in really good shape.  Legs were strong, nutrition and hydration were spot on and I felt amazing.  Plan was to run 15, walk/run 5 then run the last 10km.  I was feeling so good that I had to slow my pace down.  Unfortunately I started to get sore in my hip about 5-7 km, then in the knee about 10km.  I started power walking and walked the last 18km.  Luckily I had practiced power walking. The last 5 km were slow and painful but I finished.

All I could think about was imagine what I could have done if I hadn’t had a sore knee. I think I’ve been bitten by the Kepler bug.

I was surprised by my physical fitness, my physical endurance and my mental toughness.  I felt at the finish that if I hadn’t had a sore knee, I could have kept on going. My feet and legs were OK.  I was really surprised by that.

Thanks for the training and the encouragement – I DID IT!!!!

– Heather Collins

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