There’s a prediction half the runners in Sunday’s inaugural Race The Train event will come from far-away places.
That’s the tip from organiser Adrian Bailey of Queenstown, who says the race – which pits runners against a slowed-down Kingston Flyer vintage steam train – has attracted interest from as far afield as Auckland.
“People read about it on the Mountain Scene website, called me and asked me ‘Is the event definitely going ahead?’
“They booked their flights then and there,” Bailey says.
Bailey anticipates Sunday’s field will number 450-500 and will grow significantly in years to come.
“There are people looking for something a little bit different.
“There’ll be those who are not necessarily runners but more bikers or multisporters also taking part,” Bailey says.
Having the Kingston Flyer back on track, after its operating company went bust two years ago, is also a drawcard, he believes.
“I’m hoping we can put Kingston back on the map, with people coming from all over the country seeing this beautiful train and the race itself and Kingston.”
Bailey’s inspiration is a similar race in his hometown in Wales – he won that event in 2002 before emigrating to New Zealand.
Runners will race on an adjoining 4WD trail alongside the train’s 12km track between Fairlight and Kingston.
Bailey reckons at least half the field will beat the Flyer, which will be slowed down to between 10 and 11 kilometres an hour.
Many runners will be cheered on by friends and family members who’ve booked to ride the train, he says.
The race favourite is young Wanaka runner Oska Inkster-Baynes, Bailey believes.
Runners and walkers can tackle an alternative 5km run that starts and finishes at the Kingston Flyer station.
Both runners and walkers can enter on the day at the station from 7.30-9.30am.
The 12km run/walk costs $30 for adults and $20 for under-16s, with the 5km race priced at $15 for adults and $10 for under-16s.
Both races start at 10am.