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Bring back the big race, and our famous steam engine

BRING IT BACK: Retired Rattler volunteer Ron Stephens at the Old Gympie Railway Station.
BRING IT BACK: Retired Rattler volunteer Ron Stephens at the Old Gympie Railway Station. Renee Albrecht

UNLIKE runner Adam Cross, ex-Mary Valley Rattler volunteer Ron Stephens does not plan to compete in the next Race the Rattler novelty road race event.

But he is just as keen to see the event return, along with the famous tourist steam train itself.

Recent news that volunteers are being welcomed back on to the Old Gympie Railway Station property has prompted a new mood of cautious optimism that the famous steam engine will once again go puffing down the track.

But Mr Stephens said time itself was the railway's biggest problem, particularly the time, more than three years, since the Rattler was closed down, for track safety reasons.

The amount of time that's passed and the lack of volunteers.

"Men like me are getting too old to work on the train.

"There's a lot of work needs to be done, particularly on the rolling stock and the steam engines.

"We need running steam and that costs a lot of money."

Mr Stephens says the annual Race the Rattler was a unique asset for Gympie tourism.

"We used to get over 400 runners racing from Amamoor to Gympie.

"It was a great event," Mr Stephens told The Gympie Times.

Mr Cross could not agree more, except he would add in the benefits of all the supporters who turn up to cheer the runners, or the Rattler, on towards the finish line.

"I've run against it numerous times and I'd love to run against it again," he said.

"It's been good for the community, getting people involved. It's got people from out of town too.

"Runners and athletes of any kind like to have a schedule, so they plan for specific races.

"When it's not on or it's on and then it's off again, it's hard to train, so you can peak at the right time," he said.

Topics:  race the rattler running steam train

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