Christchurch runner and Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team race director Vajin Armstrong achived the 1st of his 3 consecutive victories in New Zealand's premier mountain race on 04 Dec 2010.
Running the rugged 60 km mountain course for the first time Vajin recorded a fine 05:03:27.
The Kepler Challenge is described as "the jewel in New Zealand's mountain running calendar" and is organised by a voluntary committee with the support, on race day, of approximately 200 Te Anau residents - giving the event a truly community feeling.
The 60km event plus the sister race, the Luxmore Grunt (27km), are held on the Kepler Track in the Fiordland National Park - part of the South Westland World Heritage Area.
Limited to 400 competitors in the Kepler Challenge and 150 in the Luxmore Grunt, both events fill up very quickly after entries open on the first Saturday in July each year.
The events attract a wide range of competitors in both nationality and age groups. For the majority of participants the nature of the event is, as the name suggests, a personal challenge.
In 2010 Vajin finished 1 minute and 29 seconds ahead of 2009 second place finisher Norman Dunroy, who was first to reach the top of the grueling 15.7km ascent, and 4.42 ahead of Martin Lukes (three time winner & five times runner-up).
The current race record of 04:37:41 was set in 2005 by Kiwi world mountain running champion & 2004 Olympic marathoner Phil Costley.
Vajin returned victorious in 2011 [05:01:54] and again in 2012 - finally fulfilling his 'sub-5' dreams [04:55:24] after a hard fought battle with Aussie Tony Fattorini.