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  • Writer's pictureThomas Alexander

Race the Train (previously Choo Choo run) 2021

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

It's been a quiet few weeks heading into some of the bigger races on the West Australian running calendar so I've just been training and enjoying the rain. There's something therapeutic about being cold, wet and (it's a winter thing) hungry. For a while I headed out purposely to catch the rain only to have it stop and I felt waterproof but I've broken the curse and been thoroughly saturated lately 😃.

I loosely follow the same structure to my training with solo long runs of 30 something kilometres on Sundays. This is great podcast time but can be a bit repetitive without a change of scenery so when the opportunity came up to race a train for about 34 kilometres on Sunday, it fit perfectly into the week. It's something I had participated in once before a few years ago and had a ball so was no question about getting out there again.

The idea is, starting at North Dandalup, a tiny town south of Perth, you run up into the hills and along the Munda Biddi trail. Then down the hill, into Serpentine in time to catch the only train of the day back to the start and your car (hopefully). The challenge being to leave as late as you like to be able to make it in time or, to fail and have to run all the way back to the car.

The 7am group

The train leaves at 10.21am so without any real planning, decided to leave with the group of 5 other runners heading off at 7am. The first 6km is a manageable but steady climb up into the hills and then it was perfect rolling trails. The weather gods were kind and without being cold, there was steady light rain and plenty of banter. The trail is all runnable and we just had a quick photo stop just after half way.

Half way 🤘

The fun part, for me (my uphill legs are still in 2020), came with about 8km to go when the trail starts heading down. We had taken it pretty easy the whole way and so got into a really comfortable 4min/km pace for the next few and started to catch some of the earlier starters of the day. I think there were about 35 people total based on my lazy counting on the train.

Love a good tempo pace

Then the fun part got funner (new word?) and we hit the real descent which was about 3km of running as fast as you could keep up with your feet. Managed a 3.05min/km but with wet roads wasn't game to risk face planting!

Once you reach the bottom, it is just a couple of kilometres along the highway to Serpentine and the station. So.. did we make it?? 🚂

Heading down the road into Serpentine you can see the station at the end. We must have been a kilometre away when we heard the distant train horn and knew we were in trouble. An errant dog decided to attempt to slow us down but our will was unstoppable and so, hurdling it, we continued. By then, those that were at the station sat transfixed as both we, and the train grew closer, mouths agape, the anxiety almost too much. Sprinting past the local delicatessen without even a chocolate milk, we flew onto the platform and into the waiting doors moments before they closed and whisked us to our cars...

The Perth to Bunbury train

Either that happened or we made it with plenty of time to spare, hung around chatting and eating for 20 minutes and then caught the (late) train 😁.

Waiting for the train

A seriously fun morning with great weather, trails and company it made a nice change from pounding the pavement and I'm keen to give it a real push next year, 7.20am start? Details are here so if you're keen, keep an eye out for next year's event and hope to see you there!

All aboard! The trip back is only 10 minutes

Photos borrowed (blatantly stolen) from Kev via Facebook and a much better written blog at

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