Kepler Challenge won by Sam McCutcheon & Ruby Muir




The 2017 Kepler Challenge held over 60kms in the alps of Fiordland was won today by won by Sam McCutcheon & Ruby Muir.


FreshChoice Kepler Challenge 2017


With a capacity field in both the FreshChoice Kepler Challenge (60km) and FreshChoice Luxmore Grunt (28km), competitors lined up for an early start to take on this iconic community race - the 30th anniversary event.


Photos Kepler Challenge

It was a 6am start for the 60km ultra runners making their pilgrimage around the Kepler Track.  A 7am starters gun followed for the “Grunt” runners.


Local Te Anau pre-schoolers then ran their annual “raceday-ramble” across the control gates after the hustle of the runners start and before the early runners of the Luxmore Grunt began their push to their finish.


The forecast was for fine windy weather and a wind chill factor of +11degrees.  This is a huge change from the -4 degree wind chill at last year’s race and a relief after the heavy snow on the course 3 weeks ago.  Excellent running conditions and there was hope for a new race record.


FreshChoice Kepler Challenge Event – 60km – 2017


In 1st place was Sam McCutcheon, aged 28yrs, in a time of 4:49:50.


Sam said to Noel Walker (race commentator) at the finish “It was good and bad and everything in between”.  This is Sam’s 2nd win and third podium finish.


Top three men

In 2nd place was Stuart Gibson of Hobart aged 27yrs, in a time of 5:10:22.  3rd place was taken out a minute later by Gene Beveridge of Auckland at 5:11:22.


The first local runner home was Dwight Grieve in 11th place overall. First local woman home was a close race between Jodi Cockburn and Heather Barnes with  Heather Barnes taking the lead at a finish time of 7:52:36.               


Three time winner Ruby Muir (below) took out the womens race at only 1 minute and 24 seconds off the race record.  She describes the Kepler as “an awesome race” and when asked about coming back for another go she said “Looks like I am going to have to”.  This was her 4th event.


In second place was Cecelia Flori from Italy.  A good fall saw her cross the line with bloodied knees and a decent scrape to the face but she was smiling and enjoyed the race!


Third woman home was Margie Campbell of Auckland, a former track runner who decided to challenge herself by “going long”.


Steve Norris, Chairman of the Fresh Choice Kepler Challenge Organising Committee said, “The day has gone very smoothly. Credit and thanks to the local Department of Conservation team who got the track in such good condition following a recent dumping of snow resulting in lots of tree falls. The Te Anau and Fiordland Community always gets in behind this event, with excellent support from our hundreds of volunteers and our loyal sponsors.”









Sam McCUTCHEON (Wellington, New Zealand) 4:49:59


Stuart GIBSON (Hobart, Australia) 5:10:22


Gene BEVERIDGE (Auckland, New Zealand) 5:11:42




Ruby MUIR (Wellington, New Zealand) 5:24:54


Cecelia FLORI (Italy) 5:44:41


Margie Campbell (Auckland, New Zealand) 5:56:44


Luxmore Grunt Event – 28 km - 2017


This race covers the first part of the Kepler track,  A significant climb up Mt Luxmore to the Department of Conservation hut and then the run back down the “hill”. 


A French/Australian runner from Canberra took out the Grunt event after placing 3rd in the Australian Mountain Running National Championships.  Etienne Blumstein-Jones finished just 2 minutes ahead for Richard Ford who was followed by Gene Beveridge of Auckland.


The womens race was also closely contested and was taken out by new Luxmore Grunt runner Kirsty Selater.  She was followed by Tania McWilliams and Sharon Lequeux.


Locals featured strongly in this race as well with Rebecca Howe finishing in a time of 2:52:47 and Jade Lilo achieving a personal best time of 2:20.







Etienne BLUMSTEIN-JONES (Canberra, Australia) 2:06:45


Richard FORD (Drummond, New Zealand) 2:08:35


Jonah SMITH (Dunedin, New Zealand) 2:10:33




Kirsty SELATER (Matamata, New Zealand) 2:24:44


Tania McWilliams (Christchurch, New Zealand) 2:25:21


Sharon Lequex (Dunedin, New Zealand) 2:30:39