Huffing, puffing down the line

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Winning smile: Gemma Maini at the finish line. Picture: Karen Gunn

PUFFING Billy took on 2500 intrepid runners on Sunday in the 36th Great Train Race between Belgrave and Emerald – including four from Tyabb.

The 13.5km course was tortuous and hilly, the competitors said.

At the start, to even things up, Puffing Billy’s driver Graeme Hind had to start on the road beside the runners and run the length of the train to board his mount and get things under way. Then, at Lakeside station, he had to run to the finish line further along to get Puffing Billy’s official race time.

Race mates: Katrina Chalke after the race with Puffing Billy driver Graeme Hind. Picture: David Chalke

Among the Tyabb contingent, Gemma Maini, who grew up in Tyabb, was the first female across the line and even beat the train. Kerry Tranter and Jodie Hogan also posted good times.

Grandmother Katrina Chalke, 63, in her first Great Train Race, finished in “a respectable time” for the distance and terrain, husband David Chalke told The News.

“That was tough; those hills seemed to go up for ever,” she said. “Then, when I came around the last corner to see another one, I screamed out ‘not again’.

Ms Chalke, secretary of the Tyabb & District Ratepayers Group, grew up as Katrina Watt in the family home on Watts Rd. She is also past president of the Tyabb Primary Parents and Friends Association and School Council and a past board member of the Bays Hospital in Hastings – formerly known at Hastings Bush Nursing Hospital – where she and her siblings were born.

First published in the Western Port News – 2 May 2017

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