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Rail Trail Tales With Mark Samson Of Trail Trilogy

Waihi’s Trilogy Events created the Trail Trilogy in 2017.  The vision was to get people of all ages active, and to promote the Hauraki Region through the Rail Trail.  The event has attracted over 500 entrants each year, and is expected to grow due to its appeal to runners and walkers of all ages.

The onslaught of Covid-19 put pay to both the 2020 and 2021 event, however the epic day will return on Sunday 11 September 2022. In the meantime, we caught up with Event Director, Mark Samson to hear more about the initiative and find out which race tickles his fancy. 


Q    Who are you, and what is your event?

A    My name is Mark Samson and I’m the Event Director of the Trail Trilogy annual running/walking event held on the Hauraki Rail Trail in September.


Q    What was the reason behind starting your event on the Hauraki Rail Trail?

A    The original Trail Trilogy was the brainchild of our local Sport Waikato Hauraki regional co-ordinators. The team successfully managed the event for three years before we (Trilogy Events) opened the re-formatted event in 2017. We decided to take it on for several reasons; we’re passionate about getting people active, we love events and we were keen to promote the Hauraki District and the Rail Trail. We also wanted to be able to help stimulate businesses associated with the trail through the event. We believed The Hauraki Rail Trail provided the perfect infrastructure/environment to appeal to both trail runners and road runners, and it covers the whole gamut of popular running event distances.


Q    Which section do you use? Do you have a favourite?

A    The Trail Trilogy event uses the entire Hauraki Rail Trail, with start lines in Kaiaua, Thames, Te Aroha, Paeroa and Waikino.  All races finish at the Waihi Train Station.

Our most popular races are the 9 km Race the Train and the 21.1 km K’hake Half.  Race the Train competitors board the Goldfields Railway train at Waihi Station for a 30 minute train ride to Waikino, where they disembark before racing the train back to Waihi. The K’hake Half starts in Paeroa and competitors run or walk through the most scenic section of the Rail Trail, through the Karangahake Gorge and alongside the Ohinemuri River to Waihi.

My personal favourite event though is the Hauraki Hundee. Starting from Kaiaua School at 01.00 hrs Sunday morning, competitors have 17 hours to tackle 100 km of trail all the way back to Waihi via Kopu and Paeroa. This is a massive challenge, but the sense of satisfaction felt by everybody involved as competitors cross the line is awe-inspiring!


Photo: Trail Trilogy - Mark Samson (left) and a jubilant Ronald (right) at the finish of the Hauraki Hundee 100km race


Q    What memory / experience on the Trail will stay with you most?

A    I think it’s both the sense of success felt by anybody accomplishing a goal they may not think they can achieve. And also the great sense of camaraderie around the event when entrants share a difficult undertaking with like-minded people.  All of our event helpers share in this and they feed off the excitement, which makes the day very memorable. The train ride to Waikino is special too, especially when we get all 200 people to sing happy birthday to everyone on board having a birthday on race day.  It’s a pretty cool way to start their day.


Q    What is it for you that makes the Hauraki Rail Trail great?

A    From our event’s perspective, the Hauraki Rail Trail is unique in that it provides five different start lines in five different towns, with all competitors being able to run through the ‘Jewell in the crown’ Karangahake Gorge before arriving at Waihi Station. The flat nature of the Trail is appealing to a lot of people, and it’s very safe and away from traffic, without being too remote.


Q    What advice would you give to people planning to enter the Trail Trilogy?

A    Grab a bunch of friends, book a place to stay on Saturday night and come and enjoy the whole weekend. Do a gentle bike ride on Saturday, go out for lunch or dinner and make a memorable weekend away with good people.




The Hauraki Region is a great place for a fun group weekend away.  If you'd like to see if there’s an event for you, you’ll find more information and registration details here.


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