Queenstown’s Race The Train organiser is confident of a good field this Sunday despite a hiccup with the vintage Kingston Flyer.
The Flyer – which runners pit themselves against from Fairlight to Kingston – only resumed services today after coming off the track a month ago due to boiler problems with the engine.
Organiser Adrian Bailey says he’s lost some would-be entrants for his second event due to uncertainty over the train.
“It’s a shame in that respect but it will still be well-supported by a lot of local people and I know there’s a lot of people who are coming over from Australia and from up north.”
Bailey believes his local event will become very popular in years to come, just like the 29-year-old Race The Train in his native Wales which inspired him.
“It was a number of years before that got off the ground but they’re now getting upwards of 3000 people.”
Wanaka’s Oska Inkster-Baynes, 21, who won last year’s 12km race by more than two minutes in 38min 43sec, will again be the favourite, Bailey says.
His likely competition will come from locals Alun Williams, who was second last year, and Thijs Hubber.
Inkster-Baynes was out with an Achilles injury till two months ago but says he’s still better prepared than last year when he’d only come back four weeks from an ankle problem.
“Fingers crossed, I’ll do everything I can to win.
“I reckon there should be a prize between us and the one in Wales where the winners get to cross over and race in the other country.”
Meanwhile, Bailey says several athletes will use Race The Train to warm up for this month’s Challenge Wanaka ironman.
“They’re going to cycle between Queenstown and Fairlight, put their bikes on the back of the train and then run the race, and then some will bike back to Queenstown after the race as well.”
Race The Train also incorporates a 5km run/walk that both starts and finishes at the Kingston Flyer Railway Station.