Thousands of runners take part in train race

First place female runner, Kiah Fry crosses the line. Picture: GREG CARRICK

On Sunday 5 May, 2258 runners took to the Dandenong Ranges with one common goal – to beat Puffing Billy on its journey from Belgrave to Lakeside Station at Emerald Lake Park.

Of the 2258 runners 486 runners were able to beat Billy, but it was the confusion that occurred at the start and end of the race that took the attention away from the winners.

The race began early at 8:30am when it was announced that the runners had already started, though this turned out to be a false report sent in after some unofficial runners passed the first checkpoint.

This year’s winner, Ben Kelly from Tynong North crossed the line in 45.01 minutes, though his win was marred by confusion when the 2nd and 3rd place male runners were sent on a different route at Emerald and crossed the line before the race winner.

The first female to cross the line was a first time runner in the Great Train Race and Kiah Fry from Blairgowrie finished the race in 49.57 minutes.

Coincidentally, it was found that both Ben Kelly and Kiah Fry have the same running coach but train with different clubs.

Puffing Billy crossed the line in 1 hour, 5 minutes and 19 seconds, which was over 12 minutes slower than the train 2018 time, which the driver put down to the wet conditions on the track.

Shane Thiele from South Yarra won the Veteran Male (aged 40 and over) and ran in at 51.03 minutes, and Tracey Austin from Kew won the Veteran Female (aged 40 and over) ran in at 57.48 minutes.

The Under 18 Male Winner was Brody Thrum from Lancefield who ran in 52:50 minutes and the Under 18 Female Winner was Jaimee-Lee Code from Narre Warren North who ran in 54:14.

Two blind runners also took on Puffing Billy this year, with the support of their guides. Kevin Murfitt finished in a time of 1 hours, 34 minutes and 54 seconds, and Francois Jacobs covered the 13.5km route in 1 hour, 38 minutes and 51 seconds.