About 2018-02-13T09:37:45+00:00



The idea for the Steam Train Challenge came about when Pieter van Wyk, route designer for the Cape Epic and native of Wellington (Western Cape), saw the railway line navigating the breath-taking scenery between Wellington and Ceres.  Being an avid mountain biker himself and a respected route designer, he decided that this could be the perfect place to host a “train race”.  It reminded him of the many years of enjoyment that the Great Train Race between Port Elizabeth and Loerie provided to relay teams, racing the narrow-gauge Apple Express steam train.

In an exciting annual event, the Great Train Race became an institution with many schools, clubs and corporates from all over South Africa and was ranked alongside the Comrades Marathon and the Two Oceans as one of South Africa’s most popular long-distance races. It attracted over 600 relay teams (10 team members each), including many top South African and African athletes, with more than 25,000 spectators gathering at the finish line to see whether man or machine would be victorious.

Currently, there is also an annual Greatest Train Race, with teams racing a train from Witbank to Middelburg.  This race, which celebrated its 30th year in 2016, attracts in excess of 21,000 participants.


This exciting race, the Steam Train Challenge, is built on the tried and tested concept of humans racing a vintage steam train, but is unique as it involves running and mountain biking.  Both sports are amongst the fastest-growing in South Africa.

The race will take participants over a distance of approximately 90km’s, through the picturesque scenery between the towns of Wellington and Ceres.

Participants can enter the:

  • RELAY RACE: Teams of six (three running and three cycling). This gives the serious and not-so-serious runner/cyclist the chance to take part, making for a great team-building opportunity for corporates, clubs and schools.
  • SOLO RACE: Go it alone and take on the train in the interesting mix of running and mountain biking.


The Ceres Rail Company is passionate about bringing back the nostalgia and grandeur of vintage steam trains and has been restoring these beautiful machines to bring enjoyment to both young and old.  One of these fantastically restored trains will be taking on the athletes in this amazing race of man vs machine.

Supporters of those participating in the race will be able to watch the race unfold at demarcated viewing points along the route or, why not watch the entire race from the train?  But, you need to be quick as only a limited number of train tickets will be available.  Take a step back in history and look at the beautiful trains at www.ceresrail.co.za and you can also book your train tickets there.


The Steam Train Challenge promises to be a wonderful day out for both participants and spectators alike, with refreshment stations and viewing points along the route and an exciting finish area at the Ceres Golf and Eco Estate.  Here, patrons will be greeted by fantastic live entertainment, refreshment and retail stalls and a fun-filled entertainment village for the kids.

As the race is a great team-building opportunity, the finish area will lend itself to be the perfect final touch to further galvanise your team spirit.  Enjoy yourself in the general public area or book one of the specially demarcated areas for your team to celebrate afterwards.  Contact us via the online form if you are interested.


The Steam Train Challenge is not only going to be great fun, but it also has the goal of playing a significant role in uplifting local communities in the area. We have identified two opportunities to make this a reality.  We would like to encourage you to support these projects to help those less fortunate than ourselves.  Read more about these initiatives in the “Charities” section of our website.