Christchurch runner Vajin Armstrong described his race as
"perfect" after winning a third consecutive Kepler Challenge
Armstrong clocked a time of 4hr 55min 24sec in cool, windy
conditions on the 60km mountain terrain course near Te Anau.
Australian runner Tony Fattorini was second, also breaking
the 5hr mark, and 41-year-old Martin Lukes, competing in the
Asics-sponsored event for the 11th time, was third.
Armstrong (32) led the extended field of 480 runners from the
Forest Burn shelter, overtaking Englishman Martin Cox after
the Luxmore Hut.
Cox was first up the hill in 1hr 7min 4sec, winning the King
of the Mountain title.
Armstrong said he was thrilled with his effort. He stayed
relaxed, met all his split times and ran a "perfect race".
He said the race was special because of a combination of the
scenery and the company.
Fattorini was also excited to achieve his aim of finishing
He knew he was not gaining on Armstrong, but kept on going
just in case.
In a nice touch, Fattorini's mother competed in the
associated Luxmore Grunt as a gesture of support for her son.
Lukes, who was second in both 2010 and 2011, found it
particularly cold over the tops. He maintained his third
position from the Hanging Valley Shelter through to the
finish, recording a time of 5hr 2min 56sec.
Ruby Muir, of Napier, won the women's race, finishing just
20min behind men's champion Armstrong.
Muir (21) led from the Hanging Valley Shelter, finishing in
5hr 37min 55sec. She fell at Rocky Point and arrived at the
finish line with bloodied knees.
Dunedin runners were left in Muir's wake. Victoria Beck (6hr
2min 31sec), the defending champion, was second, and Shireen
Crumpton (6hr 7min 41sec) was third.
A highlight of the day was seeing Russell Hurring cross the
finish line in his 11th challenge on his 58th birthday.
Kepler Challenge organising committee chairman Steve Norris
paid tribute to the Department of Conservation, for
maintaining the track, sponsors and more than 200 local
The Luxmore Grunt, a 27km sister race, was held over the
first part of the Kepler Challenge, up to the Luxmore Hut
from the Lake Te Anau control gates and back along the same
The men's champion was again Australian Stuart Doyle (46),
who won in a time of 2hr 8min 25sec, slightly slower than his
winning time last year.
Richard Ford (Otautau) was second, and 16-year-old James
Hargest College pupil Joel Fletcher was third.
Christchurch runner Jackie Gee won the women's race, with
Australian Melissa Clarke second and Sadie Cranston third.