Excitement is rising ahead of next month’s Nelson Mandela Bay train race, a unique biathlon style team relay race comprising corporate, club, social and schools teams of 6 persons against a Metrorail train between Port Elizabeth Uitenhage stations. This is the only event in the city which combines the 3 major towns of Nelson Mandela Bay and connected communities.
Over 200 teams will be expected to challenge the train over the 38km distance on Sunday 2nd August with late entries closing on Wednesday 29th July. The race, comprising of 6 stages, starts at 9am from the Port Elizabeth station with the first stage being a flat 5km road run stretch from the PE station to the Caltex Eastern Cape sponsored transition opposite Sydenham Station. The team baton is then handed over to the 2nd team member who will run through to the Dynamic Express Services transition point opposite New Brighton in Deal Party just 3.5km away. Stage 3 will take the teams along a 4km run to the hand-over point to their MTB cyclist along the river bank in Swartkops. Cyclists will have a fast and flat 10km stretch from Swartkops to the SPAR Eastern Cape sponsored transition at Perseverance, cycling alongside the railway line and through the picturesque village of Redhouse where they will cycle along the towpath. The cyclist hands over to the 5th team member for a 5.5km mix of trail running and road running through Azalea Park and into Despatch for the final team transition alongside the Despatch Station where the final team member will embark on the final 8km stretch through Despatch and Uitenhage to finish at the Uitenhage Station.
The Metrorail train which the teams will be racing against will be carrying around 700 cheering spectators, sponsors representatives and charities that will enjoy an improved race route this year which sees a further 35% of the relay route being visible from the train. The train leaves PE station with the runners at 9am and will have a stop-over break at Redhouse station where refreshments and breakfast is made available by the Redhouse Benevolent Society and the Zwartkops Rowing Club. Tickets for the train are selling quickly and pre-ordering of food and refreshments at Redhouse is highly recommended through the event website.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Train Race supports the efforts of local NPO, Love Story, who have the privilege of connecting and building relationships with most of the homeless residents of the inner city. Love Story is currently involved with numerous feeding schemes and daily feed up to 200 homeless men, women and children in front of the City Hall every week night as they’ve done so for the past three years. Through the Train Race event, organisers are appealing to companies to donate non-perishable food items, unwanted clothing or make financial donations towards the efforts of Love Story. More information is available on the event website.
This 2014 time lapse was made by securing a GoPro to the front of the diesel locomotive for the trip back to Port Elizabeth from Uitenhage – heart stopping moments for me as I spent the journey contemplating my camera falling off and disappearing ……….