A new entry system for the Kepler Challenge resulted in more than 1000 people vying for a place in Fiordland’s popular endurance event this year.
Budding competitors were asked to be online between 6.30am and 8.30am last Saturday to register their details, with successful applicants chosen at random and notified in the following 24 hours.
Those who were unsuccessful were put on a waiting list should any of the accepted challengers pull out of the December 7 event.
Previously the entry process involved people going online at a designated time, with entries given on a first come, first served basis.
Of those close to 1000 people who applied, around 480 were granted entry into the event.
Kepler Challenge organising committee chair Steve Norris said the new system was created to try and make the entry process fairer and more widely accessible.
“We used to get 1001 reasons why people couldn’t get into the race due to slow internet, slow broadband, they only had dial-up, and some of the older folks still do things via letters. So by giving everyone a window of two hours to register there was no panic to be on the internet at 6.30am. You just had to register between 6.30am and 8.30am.”
He said there were still close to 300 people entering in the first five to 10 minutes.
“Having people just enter at their leisure worked like a dream. We had some IT issues with the website but they were all rectified and by the afternoon everybody knew whether they were in or out.”
Mr Norris said that there were some spots automatically designated to sponsors as well as past winners and competitors, with spots also coming available closer to the event.
“We know that up to 100 people withdraw from the race every year. You can’t guarantee it but that’s generally the rule of thumb. Between 80-100 people get injured or don’t train or something crops up… we usually sit around 470 or 480 knowing that 470 or 480 is in reality about 440. And then we can just top it up closer to the day.”
He said the race was a great draw card to the region and showcased Te Anau to the entire world.
“In 10 years’ time [competitors] come back with their family and kids and spend another weekend in Te Anau for a holiday. Nothing to do with the Kepler Challenge but just because they’ve had a great experience here. It’s all about exposing the region to the people.”
This article was originally written for The Advocate. You can read the published version here