The Choo-Choo run, an exercise in living on the edge.

To continue on with the trail running theme I thought I’d like to talk about the only other time I wonder off my beloved concrete.  This is for the Simon Coates inspired ‘Choo Choo’ run. The idea here is to meet at North Dandelup Station (I say station in the broadest sense of the word. I think it has a small concrete outcrop it calls a platform but that really is it!) This is the same North Dandelup that the 6 inch ultra marathon  ( ) starts from , give or take 3k as the race actually starts at the beginning of Goldmine Hill, but close enough. Anyhow we meet at North Dandelup station and then run via the trail to Serpentine Station, 35k away. The ‘living on the edge‘ bit is there is only one train through Serpentine a day so if you miss it you have a long walk back to Dandelup where we leave the cars.

So we all meet at Dandelup and depending on how confident you are of making the Serpentine train dictates your departure time.  The train gets in at Serpentine at 10:21am  so we normally give ourselves 4 hours for the run. Thus we leave around 6:30am, just as the sun rises before we enter the trail after a nice 4-5k of concrete hills to warm you up. Hopefully no one gets left behind.

The graphic below was created when Dave ‘Sugar’ Cane ran the inaugural Choo-Choo run when someone did get left behind.  The story was the group of five set off but one of the runners was never going to make it and basically was sent back to the car rather than taking the rest of the group with them on the long walk of shame back to Dandelup from Serpentine. There is more to this and even an amusing You Tube video but I am not at liberty to divulge the full carrying on’s……

Choo-Choo run details.
Choo-Choo run details.

I’ve ran this the last two years and made the train quite comfortably, so much so we are talking up a 7am departure next year to really give the run that touch of danger. Last year Jon ‘Trail blazer’  Phillips cut it very close. In fact in the first photo you can see he is not even at the station and we’re talking minutes to the train arriving.  At least I look worried …?

Waiting for TB
Waiting for TB

In the (selfie) photo below you can see the elusive TB bottom right looking very relieved. After running 35k the thought of a 10-15k walk back on the road (as the crow sort of flies) is not enticing. We would have probably come and got him, probably?

TB cutting it very close...
TB cutting it very close…

This year it was far too easy and we all made the train with so much time to spare we were able to pose at the local deli and even had time to eat a smorgasbord of home made cup cakes that a local had brought to the store to sell for charity. It was her lucky day as she encountered a bunch of runners with the appetite of a pack of Wildebeest. (I am making an assumption that a pack of Wildebeest have large appetites ? They always seem to look hungry whenever I see them on any nature programs. Not so sure about the eating cup cakes bit but you get the general idea? If anyone has a picture of a Wildebeest eating a cup cake I’d love to see it. )


Far too easy in 2016..
Far too easy in 2016..

So the point of this post is to once in a while challenge yourself.  Give yourself a challenge where there will be consequences if you fail but if you succeed you never know you may get rewarded with cup cakes or faced with a bunch of runners smelling like Wildebeest.?

Footnote. I probably forgot to mention the actual 30k of trail you get to run on this bad boy of a run. (I took out the 5k of concrete at the start and finish) As you can see from the elevation at the start of this post there is a steep hill at the start which softens you up for whats to come. You then get about 20k of undulating trails and some wondrous views before the best finish to a run EVER ! The last 5k off the scarp is just biblical in its awesomeness. You are catapulted towards the train station and spat out at the end of the trail like you’ve been shot from a cannon. No wonder we all had such an appetite, at then end I reckon I was running faster than a pack of Wildebeest. There was one Wildebeest who may not have been as excited about the finish as some of us but he shall rename nameless. Roberto Busi 



  1. Jonathon | 16th Nov 16

    good memories. I do hope to return to the choochoo some day but it will either be as a better runner or with an earlier start. Certainly was a challenge for me that day even though I started at 0545 if I remember right,and a bit too close for comfort in the end. No regrets though. Was a very tough challenge but I got my calculations right and scraped in. Certainly did challenge myself that day. Totally agree it is good to set a challenge sometimes its the only way to raise the bar sometimes.

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