Here comes Kepler: a trail challenge

kepler... LO90 Of tough men, long skirts and bronze shoes…

A fixture on the New Zealand trail running calendar for 27 years, now, the inaugural Kepler Challenge  (planned to be a one-off) was originally organised to honour a Fiordland outdoor legend.

In 1988, the Te Anau community was looking for a way to commemorate the centenary of the re-discovery of Milford Track by Quinton MacKinnon (re-discovery as it is thought that a similar route had previously been used by Maori to gather greenstone from Milford Sound). At a public meeting it was decided that funds be raised and a statue be erected to honour Quintin MacKinnon.

MacKinnon’s discovery made it possible for people to walk relatively easily and safely through the lofty Fiordland mountains to Milford Sound via the famous Milford Track, later proclaimed to be the “finest walk in the world”. Only a few years after his discovery, MacKinnon started guiding people on the Milford Track. A surprising number of men and women completed this trip in those pre-Gore-Tex times of ties, hats and long skirts. Access to Milford by road only became possible in 1953 when the Homer Tunnel was completed.

kepler hang_425_aMacKinnon’s venture was the beginning of the tourism activity in this area, today worth millions of dollars, and as somebody’s put it; “until the rediscovery of MacKinnon Pass, Te Anau slumbered on the edge of the unknown…” MacKinnon himself unfortunately went missing, presumably drowned, on Lake Te Anau in 1892.

Amongst many other fundraising events the (then) Fiordland Athletic Club decided to organise a race on Milford Track, which proved too much of a logistics nightmare. Instead they turned their attention to the Kepler Track, which was being built to relieve the pressure on the two Great Walks in the area; the Milford and the Routeburn Track. The Kepler Challenge name was chosen to express the fact that this was to be a race/challenge for all, not just the professionals and semi-professionals.

The race was run on 17 December 1988 with 149 runners competing. By then the Kepler Track was completed apart from 3km above the Luxmore Hut, which meant part of the course was run through virgin tussock. It was meant to be a one-off fundraiser but the response to it was such that the committee decided to continue to hold it and it has been run every year since then – it is now firmly established as the premier mountain running event in New Zealand. A shorter, gut-busting “sister” race was established later: the Luxmore Grunt is a 27km run up to Luxmore Hut and down again.

kepler 4446979The first male and female runner to reach the Luxmore hut, earn a special prize, the title of the “King and Queen of the Mountain”. The veteran runners say that in the men’s field the King of the Mountain never goes on to win the Kepler Challenge…

The race trophy, a bronze running shoe, is a cast of the type of shoe used by Russell Prince, the winner of the first race.

In previous years the field, 450 in the Kepler Challenge, 150 in the Luxmore Grunt, has filled within a week of the entries opening in mid-winter. In 2006 the registrations went online for the first time and now the field fills in just minutes, demonstrating the popularity of the Kepler Challenge in New Zealand and abroad. The first race was also a successful fundraiser and today visitors are greeted by a lakefront statue of Quinton MacKinnon, gazing upon his beloved Lake Te Anau. Following in this vein, several people who complete the Challenge in recent years have done so as a means to fundraise for worthy causes.

EDITOR’S NOTE: courtesy of the Kepler Challenge organisers, Trail Run Mag is proud to be represented this year by  Shaun Brewster and Chris O’Driscoll, from Brewsters Running, who will experience the event from an on trail perspective an report back via a feature in the coming edition #15 of the magazine. Stay tuned…(go lads!)

Current Race Records

Kepler Challenge (60km)
4.33.37 – Martin Dent (2013)
5:23:34 – Zelah Morrall (2003)

Luxmore Grunt (27km)
1:52:30 Phil Costley (2008)
2:04:18 – Shireen Crumpton (1998)

Names to watch in 2014


Martin Dent – Aus – 35 – from Canberra, Australia has been a competitor in the 2012 Olympic Games (marathon) and has represented Australia in three Commonwealth Games. Martin won the 2013 ASICS Kepler Challenge in a record-breaking time of 4.33.37

Vajin Armstrong – NZ – was the winner of three Kepler Challenges (2010, 2011, and 2012) and second place-getter in 2013.

Mark Green – NZ – 41- placed 5th in the 2013 ASICS Kepler Challenge.

Grant Guise – 4th in 2010, 5th in 2011, 6th in 2013 in the Kepler Challenge,

Scott Hawker – NZ – 27 – placed 5th in the Hong Kong 100km, 5th in Tarawera Ultra, 1st in Mt Solitary Ultra, 7th in North Face Ultra.

Stafford Thompson – NZ – 34- came 1st Coastal Classic 2013, 1st Hanmer Alps Marathon 2013, 1st Motatapu Marathon 2014.

Mick Donges – AUS – 31- has been running ultra-marathons for five years. He has been placed twice in the Tarawera Ultra-Marathon.

Peter Tuck – NZ – 45 – has a marathon PB of 2.42. He had a cycling accident in 2012 and 2014 ASICS Kepler Challenge is his final stage of rehabilitation.

Glen Marvin – NZ – 41 – this is Glen’s 4th Kepler Challenge. He is raising funds and profile for the Mental Health Foundation in conjunction with Malcolm Law and the High Five Challenge. His personal goal to raise $10 000 towards total target of $250 000

Paul Timothy – Brit – 32 – 2nd Croesus Mountain Trail Run (3.05)

Cameron Durno – NZ – 33- is an endurance sports coach and this is his 11th Kepler Challenge.

Kevin Bruffy – USA – 30 – former university runner in the USA.

Timo Meyer – Ger – 36 – H.U.R.T. 100 mile (Hawaii USA) 2nd overall, UTMF Japan 4th

Tom Hunt – NZ – 26 – completed the Tarawera Ultra in 7.12 and was 2nd in the Hilary 80km Ultra

Shane Thrower – NZ – 46 – Uncle of Scott Hawker

Matthew Dickinson – Brit – 29 – 2013 52 peaks in 52 weeks.

Michael Beaumont – NZ – 39- will run in his 7th Kepler Challenge

Russell Hurring – NZ – 60 – from Dunedin, has encouraged his son and daughter-in-law to take part in the Luxmore Grunt this year. This is Russell’s 12th Kepler Challenge.

Malcolm Law – NZ – 54 – of 7 in 7 fame. This is Malcolm’s 6th Kepler Challenge and he says he just can’t stay away from this race.


Ruby Muir – NZ – 23 – was the 2012 and 2013 ASICS Kepler Challenge winner.

Jo Johansen – NZ – 34 – 1st 2014 Tarawera Ultra, 1st woman on the Hilary Trail, 1st woman Hutt River Trail.

Jean Beaumont – NZ – 50 – from Prirua, Jean was 3rd in 2013 ASICS Kepler Challenge. She has run seven Kepler Challenges and six 100 mile races.

Beth Cardelli – Aus – 34 – was named Australian ultra-marathon runner of the year for 2012 and 2013. She is three times winner of the North Face 100 in Australia.

Julie Quinn – NZ – is a successful kiwi ultra-runner in Australia. She has had two wins and two seconds in the North Face race in the Blue Mountains in Australia.



Richard Ford – NZ – 24 – this is Richard’s favourite race. Placed 4th in 2010, 3rd in 2011, 2nd in 2012, 3rd in 2013.

Luke Hurring – NZ – 30 – son of Russell Hurring. He has had lots of running experience on the track and road, but is new to long distance trail running.

Nathan Jones – NZ – 37 – from North Canterbury. Nathan ran the Luxmore Grunt in 2010 and 2011, and the Kepler Challenge in 2012 and 2013.

Alan Funnell – NZ – 46 – is the president of the Leith Valley Harrier Club in Dunedin and is the race director for the Three Peaks event. He has been running for thirteen years.

Martin McCrudden – NZ – 20 – from Wellington, Martin was first in the Crazyman Junior Duathalon.

Kelvin Meade – Brit – 35 – has run in similar events over the past four years

Patrick Williamson – NZ – 23 – from Wellington, has run in the Motatapu Miners’ Trail and the Shotover half-marathon.

Andrew Fraser – NZ – 49 – from Cambridge, was the 2nd veteran in the Coast to Coast and 2nd veteran in the Routeburn Classic.

Riki Russell – NZ – 26 – from Riverton ran last year’s Luxmore Grunt in 2.38.40

Jeff Walker – NZ – 50 – from Cromwell, has run several Coast to Coast events, three iron distances and one Luxmore Grunt.

Morgan Denny – NZ – 28 – from Bluff, was 5th in 2013 Luxmore Grunt

Rod Albert – Mex – 38 – this is Rod’s first mountain event after competing in several half-marathons.

Mark Geddes – NZ – 38 – from Dunedin, has been running for many years, including half-marathons and cross country races.

Rikki Griffin – NZ – 36 – from Te Anau, Rikki is usually a cyclist/multi-sport competitor.



Louisa Andrew – NZ – from Dunedin, won last year’s Luxmore Grunt and has completed the Melbourne marathon and ten half-marathons

Christina Taylor – NZ – 22 – has been competing in track and cross country for ten years.

Kellie Hurring – NZ – 31 – from Auckland, Kellie’s father-in-law, Russell, has encouraged the family to take up the challenge. In the past, Kellie has held national titles in 800m, 1500m, 5000m and 10 000m.

New Record for NZ Great Walks

a-bridge-too-farAfter nine gruelling days of aching muscles, mental fatigue and sleep deprivation, Ben Southall (UK), Luke Edwards (AU), and Patrick Kinsella (UK) – aka The Global Adventurers – have completed a world-record setting challenge of running the nine Great Walks of New Zealand back to back.

The goal of completing the Great Walks in nine days was achieved with just 40 minutes to spare, although, as with every adventure in nature’s extremes not everything went to plan. Extended drive times led to the boys having to run through the night on the 78.4km Heaphy Track, in turn pushing back the start of the Wanganui river paddle, where water levels were too high to safely kayak through night, forcing the difficult decision to leave the river before the full completion of the 145km.

These challenges pushed the boys perilously to the brink, necessitating the superhuman effort of back-to-back ultra-marathons on the final day. The three runners completed the Tongariro Northern Circuit (43km) and immediately took a helicopter to the start of the Lake Waikaremoana Track (46km), where they raced against the ticking clock to finish their mission in nine days, 23 hours and 20 minutes.

Heaphy Beach LRWhile disappointed that they were unable to paddle the full length of the Wanganui River Journey, the boys have set a new speed record for the completion of New Zealand’s GW-listed 8 walking tracks, after Mal Law’s ground-breaking 7-in-7 challenge in 2010.

Throughout the expedition a film crew has followed the team, making a documentary for an Australian television network to be aired early next year.


Record attempt on NZ’s Great Nine

WEB Pat, Ben and Luke - summit of Bartle FrereNine and a half marathons in nine days through a range of testing terrain plus a 145-kilometre kayaking mission in the mix – this is the challenge three running adventurers have set themselves this coming November as they attempt to run New Zealand’s nine `Great Walks‘ in as many days.

Even for New Zealand – the spiritual home of adventure racing and a mecca for trail running enthusiasts from around the world – this is an extreme undertaking, and one that’s never before been attempted.

The walks aren’t called great for nothing. The trails range from 32 kilometres to 78 kilometres in length, and one of the nine isn’t a walk at all – it’s a 145-kilometre kayaking route. All are intended to be multiday experiences. If you were to attempt them back to back, the minimum period you’d be advised to allow would be 28 days, not including travel time between trailheads.

To do this in just nine days will involve running over 400 kilometres and paddling 145 kilometres, through some of New Zealand’s most epic landscapes, in highly unpredictable conditions, while fighting sleep deprivation, negotiating logistical hurdles and battling with physical exhaustion.

WEB LtoR Luke, Pat, Ben - Global AdventurersThe team, known for their previous record-setting adventure running Australia’s eight highest peaks, are Ben Southall, Luke Edwards and Patrick Kinsella – collectively known as the Global Adventurers. Their expedition, dubbed the NZ9 Project, has been made possible due to support from Tourism New Zealand, Britz Campervans and New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC), who manage the nine Great Walks.

“We are excited to see this world record attempt happen in New Zealand,” said Kevin Bowler, Chief Executive of Tourism New Zealand. “We have commissioned the production of a documentary to capture the attempt and will then use the footage captured to showcase the natural beauty and diversity of New Zealand’s Nine Great Walks in the work we do to motivate travellers to come here.”

Ben Southall admits: “This is the most physically challenging expedition I have ever planned, by far. There is no current record for this challenge so I’m excited by the adventure that lays in wait for us.”

The nearest achievement to date has been by Trail Run Mag‘s one-time NZ editor, Mal Law, who made his name running seven of the Great Walks in seven days.

Starting on 8th November, the team’s ambitious itinerary will take them from South to North. They’ll kick off with the Rakiura Track (32km) on remote Stewart Island, before running the Routeburn (32km), Milford (53.5km), Kepler (60km), Heaphy (78.4) and Abel Tasman (55.2km) tracks on the South Island, and then doing the Whanhanui River Journey (145km), Tongariro Northern Circuit (43km), and Lake Waikaremoana (46km) on the North Island.

“We are all average blokes,” says Patrick. “All of us have families, jobs and life commitments – but what we aim to do through NZ9 and our documentary is to show people that, no matter how busy life gets of what challenges you might be facing, you can always find time to get outdoors. And there’s no better setting than New Zealand to illustrate how fantastic nature’s gym is.”

Over the past six months, Ben, Luke and Patrick have been preparing with gruelling training sessions – the ups and downs of which have been covered live on the Global Adventurers Facebook Page. Followers can continue to ‘go on the adventure’ with the lads, once their world record attempt kicks off on the 8th November, by checking out their Facebook Page and website:

For more information regarding walking and hiking in New Zealand please visit


Editorial: Life bender

Vicki Woolley, NZ editor’s column from the latest edition of Trail Run Mag.

EditorialPicThe other day I picked up a crappy cheap canvas board from The Warehouse, plain black with blue writing:  “ONE DAY CAN BEND YOUR LIFE”.  It’s not hanging on the wall yet, oddly, I move it around the house every few days.  Even now as I glance at it propped up against my computer table, I am simultaneously empowered and humbled.

The course of my life bent dramatically two months ago when Malcolm Law published the story of my battle with mental health issues on the Partners Life High50 Challenge blog page.  Within four minutes of it going online, Facebook Messenger began pinging crazily and at the same time, texts came flooding in.  Not the sugary messages of sympathy I was dreading, thank god, but empathy for our shared experience.  My people – our people – pouring out their own tales of abuse, neglect, obsession, addiction and ultimately – anxiety, depression… finally suicide.  Words gushing out, crowding each other on the page, needing to be said, desperate to be heard.  So much pain.  So many tears.  So wrong.

I had always suspected that borderline mental health disorders were over-represented in the trail and ultra running communities, but until Malcolm and Sally Law created a safe platform for the conversations to start, I had not realised how rampant dis-ease in our community is.  And I can’t help but suspect it is no accident that so many of us have stumbled into trail running as a strategy for our emotional survival: trail running gives us a huge raft of benefits, possibly more than any other single sport I can think of.  Obviously flooding our system with endorphins and adrenaline is a double bonus in that it reduces negativity AND gives us that indomitable ‘runners high’.  The physical benefits are obvious: feel strong, feel fit, look good, feel good.   Running in wild and beautiful places feeds our souls, our sense of adventure, achievement: it is impossible not to have your spirit touched when running beside thundering West Coast surf, climbing an exposed rocky ridgeline, or cruising silently through a stand of majestic ancient Kauri.  And trail running has become a social sport, a way of connecting with like-minded souls.

And now we are at the crux of things.  Connecting.  Connection.  We wonder often – individually and in groups – about the unusual nature of bonds formed on trail.  We bond quickly and we bond deeply.  Is it because trail runners have a unique interest that is common to all – we love the outdoors?  Is it because the boundaries of competition are less clearly delineated than that of flat, fast road running: speed over terrain is subject to so many more variables; gender differences are narrower and vary over distance?  Is it because you must have a sense of humility if you run trail – at some point in the game you ARE going to end up face down in mud or gorse with your butt stuck in the air while your mates roar with laughter?  Is it because a great number of us run trail to quiet the noise in our heads – and we get that about our companions?  Is it a combination of all these, and more?

Cover TRM14 med

Whatever: the point is that as we connect on trail, we talk about stuff that matters to us: sport, politics and religion, a shitty week at work, difficult kids and troublesome partners.  It’s just a little step further to be more open about ourselves: the things we are struggling with, the areas we need help. Mal, Sal and the Partners High50 Challenge have cracked the door.  It’s up to us to start the conversation.

Your thankfully connected editor, Vicki Woolley, NZ

THIS EDITORIAL is from Edition 14 of Trail Run Mag, now on the digital stands, downloadable for FREE or on subscription via iPad and Kindle. See to get your copy now.

Time bomb: Edition 13 Editorial

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
–       Time, Pink Floyd 

I look at my daughters, four and six. I watch them dart around the garden. Doing everything at once and nothing at all. And I yearn so badly to be a child in that moving but endless moment again.

That moment is one where time exists as a broken metronome. Tick. And the tock takes hours to show up, despite it only taking a second.

134580515064971As an observer – a supposedly ‘grown-up’ parent – my kids’ two hours running around barefoot, climbing the apple tree, laughing, bickering, sulking, crying, laughing, takes but seconds. I look down to my computer screen. I look up two seconds later and they have had five lifetimes of adventure (I can see it in their smiles and the grass stains on their knees). Yet I have only half written these first paragraphs.

The universe, apparently, is expanding at an accelerated rate and so to my life is accelerating; time is speeding up, robbing me of my life, stealing my children’s childhood, running me out of time faster than I could ever have imagined back when I was up that backyard tree plucking at the juicy apples of my own ‘when I grow up’ dreams.

Life. Slow. Down. … … … Please.

Tired of lying in the sunshine
Staying home to watch the rain
And you are young and life is long
And there is time to kill today
And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun

No one told me when to run. I missed the start, absolutely. But when I did start to run, properly run, I tried to (and still try to) do it like I was a child. Like I wasn’t late to the party. Like life had only just begun. Like my kids. But you can’t outrun time. Nevertheless, I try. I run more. And in the moment it works. When I am not running, I am going faster. Everything swirls around me – life, family, work, friends, events, words, jobs, happenings, dishes, renovations, crises, dinner, stop, stop, stop. Give me a moment. And I run. Into the trees. And my watch, thank Christ, doesn’t work. And so I am timeless. I’m running but I am going slower than I have for decades. Maybe I haven’t gone this slow since I was darting around the backyard as a child. And so I run further into the trees, away from time.

And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun, but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death
Every year is getting shorter

Technology, the pace of connected life, the number of emails, the rate of my Facebook updates, the sheer number of things I am now plugged into…everything is being crushed under the weight of having access to the entire world and its vast store of information. I can talk to anyone on the planet, yet I don’t think anyone is listening, really. Everyone, including me, is just talking. Louder, quicker, more. I eye off the trees. They look quiet. There’s no-one there. Not even time Herself.  

Never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to nought
Or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone
The song is over
Thought I’d something more to say

There remains sixty seconds in a minute and sixty minutes in an hour. But that doesn’t mean time hasn’t sped up. For thousands of years, the Schumann Resonance or pulse of the Earth has been 7.83 cycles per second. Since 1980 this resonance has reportedly risen to over 12  cycles per second. Even if you don’t subscribe to the theory, look at it the perceptive way: what you can fit into 60 minutes (or sixty seconds) today, took much longer yesteryear. Communicate to your friend in England? Three months back then. Today, a millisecond. Travel from Melbourne to Sydney? Months once upon a time. Today, you can get there in a few hours by plane. And what you are expected to achieve in any one time span today is much, much more than ever before. Just ask your boss.

Effectively, time has sped up because we squeeze more action (if not result) into each tick of the clock. More, more, rush, rush, squash it in. It is no wonder our perception is one of accelerated  – or looking at it another way, lost – time. And the feeling that we have no time for anything. Especially the important things.

Perhaps, then, it is a good thing, that I am not a runner who tries to go fast. In fact, running for me is all about slowing down.

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
When I come home cold and tired
It’s good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells
–       Time, Pink Floyd 

Your rushed editor, Chris Ord

Mt Buller


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Tarawera Ultra pumped for Ultra World Tour

American champion trailite Sage Canaday from the USA, Brendan Davies of Australia, Japan’s Yoshikazu Hara and Brazilian runner Manual Lago are just a few of the international trail stars lining up as favourites in next year’s Tarawera Ultra, which is now only three months away.

With its new status as part the inaugural Ultra Running World Tour, Tarawera is set to cement itself as one of the bucket list races worldwide for both elites and weekend warriors alike.

For Tarawera Ultra Race Director, Paul Charteris, the World Tour status is an amazing opportunity for the Rotorua-based event, which “started as ‘crazy dream’ six years ago with a field of just 67 runners.”

In 2014 the numbers of entries will be close to 1000.

“Being invited to be part of the Tour is a real honour,” says Charteris. “As the Tarawera has grown we’ve attracted really quality fields and next year the very best international runners will be on the start-line.”

Sage Canaday (pictured right), who won the event in a blistering performance in 2013, reckons the Tarawera is worthy of a return Down Under.

Screenshot 2013-12-17 09.54.32“Paul Charteris really knows how to put on an amazing event, with a talented field of international runners,” says Sage. “His vision to grow the sport of ultra running both in New Zealand and on a world-wide scale is very inspiring to me and many others.”

Defending Kiwi honour in 2014 will be Vajin Armstrong and Marty Lukes. The standout runner in the women’s field is Napier’s Ruby Muir. She’s the defending Tarawera Ultra champion and recorded four wins in four countries in 2013.

Charteris says the Tour is all about bringing runners together in the spirit of friendship, adventure and competition. With less daunting 60 and 85km distances to choose from and family-friendly relay team options (where each runner tackles a half marathon) the Tarawera Ultra also appeals to a wide range of runners.

The other races on the Ultra World Tour are all successful, well-established events with long histories, big race fields and massive media interest. They include the Hong Kong 100k, Australia’s TNF 100 in the Blue Mountains, The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in the USA, the Marathon des Sables in Morocco, The North Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in France, Italy, and Switzerland, the Ultra-Trail Mont Fuji in Japan and Grand RaiScreenshot 2013-12-17 09.56.13d on Reunion Island.

Being part of the Tour and with Eurosport TV coverage to over 100 million viewers across Europe and Asia guaranteed, the Tarawera Ultra will showcase Rotorua and New Zealand to a worldwide audience.

“A beautiful environment and superb athletes – it really is a recipe for a fabulous day of racing,” says Charteris.

“The international runners who have raced in the Tarawera Ultra have all loved being here. Our beautiful lakes and the forests, spa and geothermal features and Maori culture are a unique and seductive combination.”

For more information and online entry:


Screenshot 2013-12-17 09.53.29



The colour of Ruby Muir

She’s the current darling of the Kiwi trail scene, rubberstamping her place as one of the trail community’s Talented Ones with a win in the Tarawera Ultra earlier in the year. But Ruby Muir’s path to singletrack stardom has not been one of convention.  STORY EXCERPT BELOW & VIDEO: Derek Morrison.

As we trot around the trails of her backyard training ground, the Kiwi star of endurance trail reveals her secret for speedwork: a sparring partner with horns.

“I dived head first over the fence and he slammed into the barbed wire … the whole fence shook. Yes, I saw my life flash before my eyes,” says Ruby Muir recalling the moment when she learned that she could only just outrun the bull that had taken up residence across the road.

I’ve made my way to visit 22 year-old Ruby at her home on an orchard in Eskdale, near Napier in New Zealand’s North Island. The rental she shares with partner Kristian Day – also a competitive trail runner – is a cosy weatherboard cottage with a pile of almost worn-out trail shoes on the porch, a sure sign that I have arrived at the right door. Across the road is Eskdale Mountain Bike Park – a myriad of trails well-buffed by the soles of Ruby’s feet.

A quietly spoken, almost reticent athlete, Ruby has been turning heads since she first lined up for The Goat, a 21km adventure run with 1000 metres of climbing around the western flank of Mt Ruapehu, in 2009.

“I was planning to fast track it, so I entered and won it out of the blue,” she recalls. “I thought, not only do I enjoy this, I’m quite good at it, so I’ll keep going.”

But there is more to Ruby than natural ability alone. Her upbringing on the Coromandel Peninsula offers some insight.

“We grew up active. We grew up in a house in the bush – there was no proper road to our house, we walked to it,” she shares. “We chopped wood and had wood fires so being in nature was something I loved – it felt like it was seared into me.”

Ruby started running off-road at 17 years of age driven by a “really hard time” in her life.

“My dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. We were a really close family so that was like the end of my world at 17,” she explains through misty eyes. “My way of coping with it was to run every day. It was a way I could feel emotion when I was quite numb most of the time and a way I could have a small, positive achievement every day, when there wasn’t much else positive in my life.”

Ruby’s dad passed away two years later, at 62 years of age.

“I ran throughout that time. I ran and I worked even when he was really sick until my family felt I was never home. I was young and it was my way of dealing with it at the time,” she says.

“After my dad died – when I was quite depressed and quite low – it was the only way I could feel again. When I was running a lot I could remember him much more clearly. I am in a more balanced state these days, but sometimes when I run I have more vivid memories of him, which I can’t connect with otherwise.”Screenshot 2013-10-14 21.10.06

Screen shot 2013-10-02 at 3.13.58 PM CONTINUED… in Edition #10 of Trail Run Mag.

Get your eyes on it at

Latest Trail Run Mag blazes new trail

TRM COver 400px

The new-look Trail Run Mag: edition 10 cover, imagery by Lyndon Marceau, design by Jordan Cole.

You know that feeling when you run a trail for the first time? It’s all new, fresh dirt, exploding the senses – makes you wanna steam through the jungle… Well, get ready to feel the same bolt of change when you open up the pages of the latest Trail Run Mag, Edition 10, hitting the e-shelves right now, because you’re in for a surprise.

Last edition we checked in with new editors (welcome Rachel Jaqueline as our Asia Bureau Chief and Vicki Woolley, our New Zealand Chief). This edition we welcome to the singletrack fray a new designer in Jordan Cole. And boy has he stamped out a fresh track with his approach to the look and feel of Trail Run Mag.

At this point we have to say a big thanks to Heidi and Pete Hibberd from The Bird Collective, who forever remain co-founders of Trail Run Mag and will always be a part of its success. Heidi’s design and Pete’s direction resulted in works of art across our pages. Thanks guys for the late nights, heart and soul that you bled willingly. But change blows through everywhere and as the dynamic duo takes a well earned breather, Jordan steps to the breach and we’ve let him play like Matty Coops dances a mountain jig. We hope you like his style…we certainly do.

So, get your copy now. We’ll pay our respects to those of you who have or are about to subscribe via iPad or Kindle. Get your copy from the – e-newsrack while it’s still burning hot zeros and ones. Subscribe here (Apple Store) or here (Kindle/Amazon) if you haven’t already. If you have, you’ll already have the mag on your digi device.

For those still hanging out for the good old FREE pdf download, your dirty goodness comes a few steps down the trail. Check out on Monday. It’s free, all you have to do is register. No charge. Amazing.

 Mongolioan lead spread 400pxSO WHAT’S IN THE MAG?

PROFILE: Colour of Ruby > an insight into Ruby Muir

INTERVIEW: The Moment > trail snapper Lyndon Marceau


Manaslu Madness > getting’ singletrack high in the Himalayas

Mongolian second spread 400pxBig Red Heart > overcoming odds in the Simpson Desert

Black Dog Days > what is it with the downer after an ultra?

Mongolian Multiday Magic > in the footsteps of Khan

Beyond the Wire > thought your run was tough? Try Afghanistan…

Rhythms of the Trail > a German physicist unlocks the secret of trail running


Editors Columns – AU, NZ and Asia editors all have their say

Screen shot 2013-09-23 at 1.32.44 PMPLUS: Rich’s Rant – Richard Bowles gets angry


Throws at you four big upcoming events, across AU, NZ and Asia

Trail Porn > so dirty, it’ll blow your mind

Now’s a good time to buy… all the good gear

Shoe reviews > a pearler and one we fell in love with

PLUS: TRAIL GUIDES – four of the best

Trail Run Mag, your fave magazine dedicated to trail running in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, now available online via:

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New editors join Trail Run Mag

As The North Face 100 crowds gather atop the Blue Mountains under blue skies, tension mounts as everyone plays the schoolyard “I’m just out for a social run” game, knowing full well everyone will leave it all out on the trail come tomorrow’s TNF100 and 50km ‘fun run’, as it’s been affectionately dubbed.

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TRM’s new Asia Editor, Rachel Jacqueline runs in the Vibram 100 in Hong Kong. IMAGE: Vibram HK100 Kit Ng

But as Richard Bowles – he of the Te Araroa, BNT and of late Israel National Trail triumphs – says:  “We should never use the word ‘just’ .You’re not ‘just‘ doing the fifty kay. You’re DOING the fifty kay. Five, ten, fifty or one hundred – every run is an achievement.You’re never ‘just’ doing any of them. You DO them.”

Well, Trail Run Mag has two soldiers out to diesel their way through the century version of the TNF: co-publisher Adrian Bortignon is backing up his recent 100km at Northburn with another on home soil and our now roving editor Mal Law is roving, true to form in the 100km, too. The AU Ed, Chris Ord, is one of those sprouting ‘social run’ nomenclature in the fifty (and getting a spray for it). But we have another new Trail Run Mag trailite, one of two new members joining the Trail Run Mag editorial team, out on trail, this weekend.

Trail Run Mag will soon extend its coverage reach into the Asian region with the new appointment of an Asia Editor, while the sideways stepping of Mal Law to concentrate on bigger projects has seen the appointment of a new New Zealand editor.

Operating out of Hong Kong, Rachel Jacqueline, takes up editor responsibilities covering a region bigger than any other TRM editor. But one that is booming as much, if not more, in terms of the trail running action.

Jacqueline believes nothing is impossible. Be that running 100km, or the brutally harder challenge of making a living as an adventure writer. The latter she does for South East Asian media including the South China Morning Post; the former she ticked off the bucket list on home soil at the 2013 Vibram Hong Kong 100. Now she’s combined her two loves into one role: writing and trail running as the Asia Editor for Trail Run Mag, covering everything form her home city where trail and ultra events has proliferated, to keeping an eye on adventure and multiday outings and the characters who are out there running trails just for the sheer hell of it. When Rachel is not capturing the best of Asia’s trail stories, she can be found running on one of Hong Kong’s many trails with her dog, MacLehose.

“I’m super pumped to be running this weekend,” she says of her 50 outing, “And I look forward to being a part of Trail Run Mag team!”


TRM’s new NZ Editor Vicki Woolley, making her feelings about trail running very clear. Love it.

Meanwhile, Trail Run Mag has already stamped a dirty shoe on the New Zealand scene from our beginning more than two years ago, with trail Godfather Mal Law keeping the words and imagery from New Zealand flowing onto our pages. One of Mal’s running partners, and another who has great respect in the trail running community, is Vicki Woolley. As Mal steps down from ongoing coordination of New Zealand content (but has promised to keep flinging some words and imagery our way), Vicki takes up the reins, and with gusto.

“As newly-appointed Trail Run Mag NZ Editor, I have to do a bunch of stuff that I LOVE doing while pretending I’m “working”.  Stuff like… run around in wild, remote and rugged places.  Talk to people: those who live for challenge and adventure, those who are at the top of their game, those who are in it for the love (I LOVE talking!).  I get to do a little research into trail running from both scientific and spiritual perspectives (I LOVE research!!). And – the icing on the cake – I have to go home and write about all the fun stuff I’ve heard/seen/learned.”

“Don’t get me wrong – its not going to be easy: I’m stepping into very muddy, very tough, and very big shoes.  For the past two years Malcolm Law has added shape and flavour to TRM with his boundless enthusiasm for adventure, his pure love of the trail and enduring passion for encouraging people to take one step beyond their comfort threshold.  Mal always – always – sets the bar high: he and Chris have worked tirelessly to establish a point of focus for a sport that is experiencing a popularity explosion.  Going forward, my goal is to engage readers in an e-conversation via TRM, encouraging experience- and information-sharing, contributing to the building of an exciting, inspirational and adventurous trail running community.”

Trail Run Mag would like to publicly thank Mal Law for all his sweat, tears and possibly a bit of blood in being a cornerstone of building the title to what it is today. Quite simply, without Mal, Trail Run Mag does not exist. Thus we have reserved a lifetime of being shouted beer (or drinks of his choice) at the bar whenever with any of the TRM team (our version of a lifetime pension for hard yards put in), and an ongoing title of Roving Editor. Which really just means he does as and what he wants and flings us some stories and commentary every now and then, but we love him for it.

Thanks Mal. You are a doer. The best kind.

Speaking of doing…(without a ‘just’ in sight) Mal, Rach, Adrian and Chris have some doing to be done in the Blue Mountains. Vicki, alas, is holding fort in NZ where we believe she is, as always, out on trail.

Good luck to all those running both the TNF100 and the Wilsons Prom 100 this weekend, and in NZ, those running the Stephen Hill Te Mata Terrific Tui or the Xterra Auckland Trail Run Series race 1.



Dirty kilometres: who’s counting?

Trail Run Mag’s New Zealand Editor, Mal Law, signs off on his last edition as chief honcho with bigger projects about to be crammed into his running schedule. We’ll keep Mal on (if he’ll let us) as an Editor-At-Large, which simply means he’ll contribute as and when he can and tell us when we need to pull up our socks on New Zealand-based content. In the meantime, his editorial asks the question…who’s counting? (He is and he’s not gonna apologise).

P1010317Remember the days before we all (ok, most of us) had GPS watches? When a run in the bush was accompanied only by bird call, trickling water and the steady thud thud of our non-minimalist (why did we never call them maximalist?) shoes? It seems an inconceivably long time ago when I trawl through hundreds of Garmin Connect Activities on my laptop, yet it’s only a few short years back.

The advent of the GPS watch and the possibility it creates for all kinds of geeky logging and analysis raises an interesting question. Has it enhanced or eroded the sport trail running? Are we now too fixated on the numbers and becoming oblivious to the pure essence of trail running that got us hooked in the first place?

At the start of this year I was feeling a little low on motivation and without any huge new goals to set my sights on I decided to declare 2013 to be the Year of the Streak. I would attempt to run every day for a year, no rest days allowed. I also set a target of running 5,000 kms during the year and so have been tracking my progress using my Garmin.

At the end of January I posted my progress on Facebook and was rather taken aback when someone commented that because I was counting kilometres I was corrupting the spirit of the sport.

“What happened to just going for a trail run for the love of it?” was the rather provocative remark that got me stirred up and yes, thinking about whether or not I was in any way stepping away from the essence of the sport I love.

Having had time to reflect on this I can now emphatically answer that question – NO I’m not. The joy of the trail and the reasons I do it are the same as they’ve always been. The simple act of running on beautiful tracks with great mates is still feeds my soul and replenishes my spirit. The fact that I’m counting kilometres as I go has in no way taken away from the enjoyment. In fact, if anything, it has provided me with the motivation to get out there more, experience more, discover more and further cement my addiction to what for me is a massively rewarding pastime.

GPS technology is there to be used if you want to, for whatever reason you want to use it. And if you’re not interested in using it then that’s fine too. Each to their  own I say – and if that’s not true to the utopian spirit of trail running then I don’t know what is.

Happy trails everyone – whether you count the kilometres or not.

Your streaking NZ Editor, Mal Law

AU ED’S NOTE: Quite simply, without Mal Law, Trail Run Mag would not exist and for all his efforts, time and sweat, we’d like to thank the man, the legend, the runner, the writer for everything he has contributed to the title over the past two years. It’s been a slow build by passionate people and none more passionate than Mal. Most of you who read Trail Run Mag will also know of Mal through his trail running endeavors and we can promise you that there will be plenty more by this man. We encourage everyone to follow Mal on his continuing singletrack journey.

On FB via Running Wild:
Via Running Wild website:
And of course buy his brilliant book* ‘One Step Beyond’ HERE.
(*We’ll run a chapter excerpt in the next edition to entice those who haven’t already bought it to do so: an investment in inspiration)

The team at Trail Run Mag would like to thank Mal profusely for being Mal: passionate, dedicated and a true runner in that he runs with his heart and thankfully for us, also writes with it. We hope he’ll continue to grace the pages of Trail Run Mag with his adventures and thoughts on the world of trail running. Thanks Mal. Beer’s on us. Always.

REMEMBER: nThe latest edition of Trail Run Mag has landed! And it’s free for all you dirt-loving trailites to get an eyeful of the best singletrack tales, mountain madness and back of beyond running you can imagine.

Download your FREE COPY here (right click, save to desktop or go here).

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