Elite Wanaka athletes led the field at the second Race The Train event near Queenstown this morning (Sunday).
Professional triathlete and Olympian Nicky Samuels, 29, won the women’s race against the Kingston Flyer in a time of 45mins 36secs.
While promising distance runner Oska Inkster-Baynes – last year’s defending champion – beat his 2012 time by 34 seconds to blitz the vintage steam train over 12kms in 38:09 and take the men’s title.
Inkster-Baynes, 21, says: “It was really hot and there was a tailwind – so you’d overrun what you could with the wind and then the heat would catch up with you.
“But it’s a great event. Adrian Bailey [the organiser] does a lot for us down here so we’re happy to take part.”
The 12km between Fairlight and Kingston provided a base level training run for Samuels but the unrelenting sun and heat provided a challenge for more than 150 other runners who took part.
Runners of all ages caught the iconic train to the Fairlight station before running back.
Others completed a shorter 5km loop from Kingston – a race won by up and coming Queenstown triathlete Fynn Thompson , who biked from Queenstown to Kingston, ran the 5km in 19:05, and then biked back again.
The Race The Train event was threatened with cancellation when the only working Kingston Flyer locomotive was taken off the tracks a month ago after problems with its boiler.
But the other locomotive was brought back into service in time. It covered the 12km in about 56mins.
Organiser Adrian Bailey told the crowd at the prize giving: “As a lot of you know this race would not take place if it wasn’t for David Bryce [Flyer owner].
“David gave me his word a couple of weeks ago that everything would go ahead and he was true to it – the train was there, it was back on track and we all had a great race.”