The last time I was in New Zealand, I was 13. I traveled with my brother and my Mom (Mum) from Hawaii on an Air Force space available flight, and we landed in Christchurch. Then we spanned the whole country between Queenstown and Auckland at least twice over three weeks. We also got amazingly ill and had to high tail out on a commercial flight back to Hawaii.
Over 20 years later, Anna and I are going! The certainty of travel planning which comes with buying plane tickets is incredible. It’s a blessing that we can go. Our plan is to fly out from El Paso at the end of November, beeline to Te Anau, south of Queenstown, and then work our way north to Auckland throughout the ensuing week. From there, we’ll fly up to Australia, specifically Kuranda which is where we were married, and visit Australian family as we work south to Tamworth which is where we’ll spend Christmas with the AUS clan.
My draw to New Zealand is that it’s the land of my mother’s family. She grew up on a dairy farm on the North Island. As my grandfather had nine children, and subsequently 18 grandchildren, the NZ family is extensive, and we’re all spread out. My brother and I just happen to be the only Americans. I believe at least seven of my cousins have EU passports and seemingly do awesome stuff wherever they can, and the reality is that there are cousins I have yet to actually meet in person. A large portion of the family lives in other places, mainly the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, and Australia. But going back to New Zealand spells a tremendous opportunity to catch up with my Aunts, Uncles, and cousins who I haven’t seen in decades, and hopefully to meet some of my family for the first time ever.
Aside from our hope to see family, the other objective (of course) is to race. Hence the plan to start from Te Anau. Last December, when I was visiting my brother in California and waiting for him at the hospital after he royally sliced his thumb open, I was inspired by a blog post from irunfar.com which described a 60km trail race as “a jewel in New Zealand’s mountain running calendar.” Ever since, I became a bit transfixed by the Kepler track, as well as New Zealand’s other great tracks, and Annie and I agreed to work into getting into the Kepler Challenge.
Registering was not a stress-free process. The Kepler Challenge doesn’t have a lottery, which meant that I had to plan to be at my laptop on Friday, 30 June at 12:00L with the webpage ready to enter as soon as the link opened (this required thinking in Wellington time). Somehow, I got in!! This is amazing in retrospect as I learned the race sold out within 5 minutes.
For 2017, a year that I’ve already raced 10 times, the Kepler Challenge is my #1 goal race, and this is the first time I’ve announced that intent. I plan to write future posts which will describe more of my preparation, and break down my goals for this event. Unfortunately, there’s no way to get around the issue that I will likely be very jet lagged and a little stressed about travel when I show to the start line. Therefore, I want to be competitive, but I also want to be realistic. I expect to be excited. I’m excited now reflecting on the prospect of such an incredible day!
But also exciting is the knowledge that Kepler is the opening of our 2017 NZ/AUS trip. If anyone has insights or opinions on things we should plan for, we would really appreciate your help. Onward to the Antipodes!
How to Get Involved
We’re playing around with some hashtags: #teamrabeNZ #teamrabeinOZ #TeamRabeDownUnder. #NAPLinNZ #antipodeanadventure – tell us what you think!? We’ll have a poll on the facebook page where you can vote.
Definitely follow our Instagram accounts for the visual experience, @dwightrabe and @annie_rabe, and the facebook page for daily updates!
Send us a postcard from wherever you are to Team Rabe c/- Not a Pedestrian Life, PO Box 525, Alamogordo, NM 88330-0525 and we’ll send you a postcard from our either NZ or Australia (if you care which country, tell us on your postcard!).