Hubber proves he's a man of his word
Richard Hubber to take on KeplerJERRIE VALLI
A few red wines after last year's Kepler Challenge were all it took to convince Richard Hubber to take on the 61km mountain run this year - now he can't wait to get back to the bar after he completes the feat on December 7.
Richard and his wife, Terry, manage the Mitre Peak Lodge on the Milford Track and have done so, from November through to April, for the past five years.
Knowing Kepler Challenge committee chairman Steve Norris well, the couple put their hands up to volunteer at last year's event.
Posted at Rainbow Reach - the drink station at the 50km mark - they witnessed the elite runners speeding through; "they looked like they'd only run 10km maximum", through to the tailenders "at varying stages".
That night, after a few red wines in Te Anau, the couple decided they would have a go at the 2013 Kepler Challenge.
The next morning Terry decided it was a crazy idea.
Richard, though, stuck to the plan and he will be among 450 other runners traversing the 61km Kepler Track; most of them crossing the finishline anywhere between five and 12 hours.
"I just want to be able to finish, hopefully in under 10 hours, and have enough energy to head to the after party," Hubber said.
"I've never been a regular runner. I do walk quite a lot and keep myself moderately fit, but I'm not out doing events.
"I have a problem with my Achilles which doesn't enable me to run, so I walk. I might do a bit of jogging in some of the downhill sections, but that's about it.
"I went around the track back in February, just to see if I could do it, it was my 'proving day' and I got there.
"Everyone has different reasons for doing it. The elites are there to have a good chance at winning it, there's a whole bunch out there who are looking for competitive times - although everyone has their own idea of what a competitive time is - and then there's us silly buggers, who just want to finish it and go to the after party."
Hubber has taken on some inspiring challenges in the past, predominantly walking and including going coast to coast in England, conquering Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Everest Base Camp, to name a few.
But he still rates the Kepler Challenge as one of his biggest challenges yet.
While not aiming to break any records, Hubber is looking forward to the event and says it is one that has huge benefits for the local community.
"It is a fantastic event," he said.
"It's great for Te Anau and Fiordland, particularly with that large international contingent. They've really got something special there. They obviously have a lot of volunteers who put in a lot of time and effort, and the community just seems to get right in behind it, which is great."
Instead of running it, Terry will again be volunteering; ideally somewhere that allows her to cheer her husband on at Rainbow Reach.
Richard also has a "cheer squad" coming all the way from Adelaide - where the couple spend six months of each year.
The Kepler Challenge is in its 26th year and runs alongside the Luxmore Grunt - a 27km run from the Control Gates to the Luxmore Hut and back. This year's event will be held on December 7.
- Fairfax Media