Kepler Challenge Sold Out in 2 Minutes, The Scramble to Get a Start

The Kepler Challenge Mountain Run is the premier mountain running event in New Zealand and has grown a large and loyal international following over its 32-year history.

Such is the annual scramble to get a start in the 60km alpine run through the Fiordland National Park, that this year the Kepler sold out in just over 2 minutes.

For those who missed out on the Kepler Challenge, there is the 27km Luxmore Grunt, but that too sold out within 4 minutes.

Photo credit: Kepler Challenge

While the Kepler & Luxmore race day in summer is full of fond memories for runners and organisers, it's a different story when registration opening day looms mid year.

Over the years organisers have tried a number of options to make registration fair and simple for the runners. But even a ballot system saw a few hiccups, leaving a lot of unhappy runners and Facebook full of grumbles. The pressure on registration also flows in the leadup months to race day with data issues, changes and corrections.

The Kepler Challenge Committee contacted eventplus towards the end of 2019 to see if we could help.

Fast forward through their due diligence process, discussions and a lot of ticking boxes, the committee made the decision to use the eventplus platform & service for their 2020 entries. A bold decision, with some level of confidence coming from the platform's track record with sell out events and commitment to service.

The committee invited eventplus to attend the 2019 event to sample the Kepler culture first hand, with co-founder and CEO Jen Knowles attending.

Jen has attended hundreds of events over the years as a competitor, support crew member, media representative and technical support provider, but experienced a new role at the Kepler handing out finish line medals.

“The Kepler with it’s people and being nestled in the Southern Alps has a wonderful warm charm.. which I soaked up” commented Knowles, adding “ the 2 degree chill, high winds and rain! While the weather may have closed the high alpine section of the run, runner’s spirits and the alternative course came together to make a wonderful day for all.”

“I was certainly overwhelmed with the Southern hospitality, Kepler culture, passion shown across the committee and entrants alike.”

By 6:25am on the 4th of July, a large crowd congregated on the Kelper website in the hope of getting a start in the 2020 events. Behind the scenes the Kepler Challenge Committee were watching and waiting, with little to do as the eventplus autopilot went to work. As the registration countdown clock ticked over to 6:30, the registration turned live, 2.5 minutes later it automatically switched the Kepler Challenge to waitlist to record runners who missed out and 90 seconds later the Luxmore Grunt also hit the waitlist.

The good news for many of those on the waitlist have a good chance of getting a start.

Now just weeks after lockdown ended in New Zealand, Kepler Challenge chairman Steve Norris summed up their committee’s feelings after the quickest sell out Kepler & Luxmore ever. "The Kepler Challenge are very happy with the eventplus service.” explained Norris.

The Race Secretary added “We as a Committee wanted to pass on our sincere thanks to you and your team for the way you handled the entries for us and the support you have given us up until here.”

“It’s been incredible and made such a difference. The last couple of years were pretty tough so we were anxious about today, you’ve totally surpassed our expectations and we couldn't be happier. It was a breeze, so smooth and made our event shine, which is what we as a team have always wanted and today you’ve made that a reality! So, thank you.”

Now that the registrations are sorted, with quality data, we are working with the Kepler Challenge crew to improve a number of other areas. From office efficiencies and automation to loading up all of the historical results which will enable them to automatically calculate the events that runners have completed in their 32 year history. Having integrated registration and results on the same platform opens up a whole host of opportunities. In this instance the Kepler Challenge award medals for runners who complete 5, 10 and 20 events. Participants will also be able to view their entry count on their event registration.

We cannot wait until the 5th December, the runner’s day, to see who wins the Kepler Challenge and Luxmore Grunt, set a personal best or just complete the events… and of course all the great stories that filter through from the runs.

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