Race the Train, 12 km, Kingston, New Zealand

Report from Iain.

While in New Zealand for my sister’s wedding I’ve taken the opportunity to explore South Island and experience weather as changeable as the summer at home. During the trip I hoped to find a run to take part in and chose the Race the Train (http://www.activeqt.co.nz/events/race-the-train/race-information/). This event, taking place for a second time, has the unusual appeal of a steam train, the Kingston Flyer, rumbling along near the race route. The railway line once went all the way from Kingston to Invercargill, but in recent decades has been a tourist attraction covering a distance of only 12 km and terminating in a ploughed field. Despite the remote location for this race, it attracted over 150 participants, including some who had travelled from as far as Dunedin.

On the morning of 6th January participants and spectators boarded the steam train at Kingston at 9am. The sun was already beating down from a near-cloudless sky so I applied the sun block and drank some extra water as the start time approached. The route for this race passes along dusty and slightly undulating farm tracks towards the southern shore of lake Wakatipu with views of the Southern Alps in the distance. I had spent the previous there days walking in the hills and the day before the race had ended up running part of the way down Ben Lomond to catch the bus to Kingston, so my legs probably weren’t as fresh as they might have been (or at least any excuse is better than none).

I hoped for a time of about 45-46 minutes. It was difficult to gauge my pace due to slightly erratic km markers but I was feeling the heat of the sun and soon realised that I probably wouldn’t reach that target. A water station at about half-way was a welcome relief. I felt that I was making poor progress and just wanted to see the finish line. The last kilometre turned out to be quite a lot shorter than some of the others so ultimately I was pleasantly surprised to finish in a time of 47:51.

And what about the steam train? It wasn’t visible for much of the race but the sound of it puffing and whistling was an added incentive to keep moving. As it turned out I arrived in Kingston a good five minutes before the train did, which I suppose is a victory of sorts. Overall, I really enjoyed this distinctive event and its stunning surroundings.

I wonder if any Bella member has taken part in a race further from Glasgow than this…