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He had run the event, now in its 33rd year, annually since the challenging contest began.
This year, he would do the 60km mountain run with his son, Matthew, to spur him along.
"All I’m interested in is finishing on time and getting through the cut-offs."
The 68-year-old Invercargill man had run since he was in school, and was one of the event’s 10 original runners. His aim this year was to beat the others catching up to him on completing the 30th run.
"I started out very enthusiastically tramping a lot in the hills when I was 14."
His son had spent his whole life running "trying to catch up with dad".
The first time he pulled out, which was Matthew’s first completion, he ran the event six weeks after knee surgery.
“That was a bit painful.”
His daughter planned to run the event with them as well, but was stuck in Western Australia.
It was to be an extra special race for the family, as Matthew’s two young children were to wait at the last little bit of the track for them — all three generations together, he said.
He also had some "unfinished business".
"The second year I gave it a go, I was looking at a pretty good time. In a bit of a day-dream, as I was going past Iris Burn, I stood on a rock and tweaked my knee pretty badly."
He planned on completing a "fast Kepler" one day, but this year he was set on "having a look around and hanging out with my dad."
Organising committee member Toni Thompson said that on race day there would be 50 more people running the challenge than the usual 450, after having gained approval from the Department of Conservation.
Two hundred would be running the Luxmore Grunt.
"This is great news for the town who desperately need the business that this race brings each year."
She had also heard many competitors chose to stay longer in town than usual to explore the region with their families.
"The town is super excited to welcome back all the mad runners that come every year to challenge themselves on the Kepler Track."
Race day is December 5.