Official marks two decades of doing the duathlon

2020 marks the 21st Rail Trail Duathlon event organised by Maniototo Lions Club and race official...
2020 marks the 21st Rail Trail Duathlon event organised by Maniototo Lions Club and race official Graeme Duncan. PHOTO: ALICE SCOTT
It’s been 20 years of "good fun" for Rail Trail Duathlon race official Graeme Duncan, and as he set up a transition station at Lauder at the weekend the Wedderburn farmer looked like he could have done the job with his eyes closed.

The duathlon starts at Clyde and runs over two days.

Teams and individuals bike and run their way through the stages to finish 152km down the track at Middlemarch.

Lion Clubs from Clyde to Middlemarch get involved as the race enters their area, stationing themselves as race marshals while Mr Duncan’s Maniototo Club oversees the race’s organisation from start to finish.

In 2000, Mr Duncan said the Otago Central Rail Trail charitable trust approached the Maniototo Lions Club to organise the duathlon as a one-off event to mark the opening of the trail.

"We enjoyed it so much we decided to carry it on."

Mr Duncan estimates $150,000 to $200,000 has been raised from the event over years which has gone back into the trail to help pay for improvements and upkeep.

The event enjoyed "10 solid years" before peaking in 2010 when 650 competitors took part.

Since then, competitor numbers have slowly declined and this year about 100 competitors took part.

"There are more events on these days, more options for people."

The highlight has been seeing athletes "cut their teeth" on the event.

''This would be their first multisport event and they would go on to do triathlons and other events. It’s a good, safe race to train on."

As the spectators waited for the last competitor to cross the finish line, Mr Duncan was mum on the future of the event.

"Certainly the numbers are way back from where they used to be, but we need to have a debrief and we’ll go from there."

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