ABOUT THE STEAM TRAIN CHALLENGE
The idea for the Steam Train Challenge came about when Pieter van Wyk, ex-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 his student years and the endless 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 corporates, clubs, and schools 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 6,000 participants (600 relay teams), 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 31st year in 2017, attracts in excess of 21,000 participants.
This exciting race, the Steam Train Challenge, is built on the tried and tested concept of man vs machine, 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.
There are two participation options:
- 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: Take on the train as a solo athlete in this interesting “duathlon-style” 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 not only be able to watch the race unfold at the viewing/hand-over points along the route but can also watch the entire race from the train. Please visit www.ceresrail.co.za for details of the exciting options (such as sleeper coach, day tickets, etc) available for taking the train. But, you need to be quick as only a limited number of train tickets will be available.
A GREAT DAY OUT
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 entertainment village in the finish area at the Ceres Golf and Eco Estate.
The entertainment village will offer fantastic live music, food, drink and retail stalls as well as a supervised kiddies zone.
For the energetic kids (and keen parents), there is also an opportunity to earn a medal when completing the fun run and ride that is going to take place on the estate.
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 wonderful ways to make this a reality and would like to encourage you to support these projects to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Please read more in the “Charities” section of our website about how you can pledge your support.