Zports, the leaders in fun, exciting and new charity supporting events to the city have struck again with the announcement that they will revive the Man vs Machine Train Race concept in 2014.
The inaugural Nelson Mandela Bay Train Race will take place on the 17th July 2014 and unlike the original Great Train Race, it will see teams of five take on a Metro train in a 40km challenge from PE to Uitenhage, via Despatch. With the narrow gauge Apple Express currently out of service, race organiser Mike Zoetmulder has highlighted that the new Train Race route will ensure much easier logistics for the teams and potentially enable companies to enter multiple teams as well as the inclusion of individuals.
Races with a man versus machine concept have always been popular and Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism (NMBT) have joined forces with local sports organiser, Zports, and the Metro Events department to ensure the revival of the Train Race. NMBT CEO Mandlakazi Skefile said they welcomed the idea of the event as it would continue to promote the region’s status as a popular sporting destination.
“NMBT supports the return of the Train Race concept,” Skefile said. “Unique industry events are becoming of greater importance as it enables a destination to market itself in this emerging market and also creates a unique and authentic experience in the destination for the visitor. An event of this nature has the potential for a great increase in the social and economical benefits of the destination.”
Outlining the initiative, Zports owner Zoetmulder said: “Over the past 3 years we have been in discussion with the Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to find a solution to re-establish the Train Race and are confident that we’ve found a long-term solution that will also become the first major event to incorporate the three towns of Nelson Mandela Bay – Port Elizabeth, Despatch and Uitenhage – when we race against a Metro Rail train between Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage in 2014.”
“The Great Train Race was a unique destination event and it was a huge shame to see this event come to a standstill in 2004. We hope to ensure that the Nelson Mandela Bay Train Race will avoid any of the controversy that surrounded the Great Train Race in that the new look train race will be a community building charity event with no cash prize money up for grabs. Teams will race the train for branding rights and awesome winners floating trophies.”
“Like the Urban Run, which raised in excess of R230,000 for charity this year, the Nelson Mandela Bay Train Race will challenge teams and companies to support nominated charity projects within the communities along the way. Zports hope to partner with Rotary and their 6 local clubs to identify and manage these community projects to ensure that the Train Race leaves behind a sustainable legacy each year.”
The Nelson Mandela Bay Train Race will be a 40km relay event for teams comprising five runners and will include corporate, social, club and schools categories.Each year the race start will alternate between the Port Elizabeth station and Uitenhage station, with 2014 being the ‘up’ run from Port Elizabeth to Uitenhage. Opportunities are also being made available for companies to partner the event through the sponsorship of the various transition and water table points along the route. See nmbtrainrace.co.za for further information or contact Zports.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Train Race was inspired by The Great Train Race which was run between Port Elizabeth and Loerie for 25 years between 1980 and 2004. Athletes pitted their strength against a steam train that traveled from Port Elizabeth to Loerie, a distance of 72 kilometres. An eight man University of Port Elizabeth team won the inaugural event in a time of 3:42.45 to beat the train.
Th Great Train Race pitted man against machine – not any machine but one of the one of the last surviving narrow gauge steam engines in the world.
The PPC/Spoornet Great Train Race became one of the most popular events on the South African athletics calender, and in 1996 entries peaked at 624 teams of 10 athletes each and ranked alongside the Comrades Marathon and the Two Oceans as one of the country’s leading long distance races.
In 1999 nearly 5 000 athletes challenged the train to one of the most exciting finishes in the history of the race. The team that beat the train only won by a mere 2 seconds. Reports that the train ‘hid’ behind Loerie Koppie and waited for the runners could be untrue!
The last Great Train Race was run in August 2004 – the 25th annual Great Train Race from Port Elizabeth to Loerie when 471 teams participated. This was a controversial year as Athletics South Africa told licensed runners not to run in the race and that they would lose their license if they participated.
Anglo Simply The Best won the men’s race in a time of 3:43.59, with Mr Price UPE Men A second in a time of 3:47.35 and Puma Nokia who clocked in 4:02.10.
The Ladies’ race was won by Mr Price UPE ladies in a time of 5:10.51, with African Bank Nokia ladies second in a time of 5:29.19 and third Max 4 Cars Elite Ladies.
The high schools section was won by Humansdorp Secondary A, while Danie de Jager Caritas won the Primary school section.
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