Four huge days of trail running over challenging terrain and through incredible scenery have come to an end with records broken and memories made in their heart of Australia.
Runners from across the continent and overseas travelled to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory for the 2018 Run Larapinta Stage Race, a four-day, four-stage trail running race along the most spectacular sections of the Larapinta Trail.
Records fell from the get-go, with Germany’s Felix Weber putting down an amazing time in the twilight night race, beating the Malbunka long course record by over four minutes in a time of one hour, 19 minutes for the and two seconds for the 19km first stage. Emma MacIntosh of South Australia was fastest female in 1:48:25.
In the Namatjira short course it was local Simon Duke, the holder of the Fastest Known Time along the Larapinta Trail, running the 11kms in a time of 46 minutes, 33 seconds and Lauren French (WA) 55:14.5 taking the stage wins.
Regarded as the toughest of the four stages, runners rose to the conditions of Stage 2, equally amazed and impressed by the course, the terrain and the striking landscape.
Weber continued his domination of the event with an impressive time for the technical 41kms in four hours, 23 minutes, 58 seconds. Emma MacIntosh also continued her winning streak taking the stage in six hours, 12 minutes and 20 seconds amid a field of 46 long course runners.
In the shorter Namatjira course (20kms) Christopher Allday of Western Australia was first male across the line (2:47:51), and Melissa Christensen (SA) first female in 3:03:52 out of 100 racers.
Sunday’s Stage 3 delivered more delightful running conditions along the Larapinta Trail with a shorter, cooler day. After the challenge of the second day, it was a relief for runners to be able to stride out across the less technical sections.
In another display of running prowess – Weber took his third stage win to retain the overall lead, finishing the 29kms fast in a time of 2 hours, 58 minutes, 32 seconds – beating another course record by over eight minutes. Rowan Brookes from Somers, Victoria was first female, in a time of 4:35:50.
Christopher Allday took his second stage win in the Namatjira 22km short course (2:10:32) while Brooke Cupples of South Australia was fastest female (2:24:48).
A freezing morning for day four made way for more glorious Central Australian sunshine with the lure of the finish line at Glen Helen strong.
Short coursers had 30km up ahead, and the Long Coursers had 45km to finish their journeys that would total 83km and 134kms of challenging trail running for the four-stage race.
Fastest again was Weber finishing in a time of four hours, 27 minutes, 10 seconds, to total 13 hours, eight minutes and 43 seconds for the event, going on to be crowned the Malbunka long course champion.
Rowan Brookes was fastest female (6:25) and with a total event time of 19:31:38 taking the overall long course event win.
In the Shorter course Allday clinched another stage win with a time of 2:46:24 and Brooke Cupples 3:08:12. Allday and Cupples with total times of 8:36:05 and 9:36:58 respectively were crowned the Namatjira Short Course champions for 2018.
Race director Sam Maffett of Rapid Ascent Adventure Sports Event Management said he was impressed with the fast times posted, but even more moved at the camaraderie the runners showed both out on the trail and at the finish line.
“It has gone incredibly well, there have been positive vibes the whole time, and I was elated to see each runner cross the finish line happy, relieved and incredibly satisfied with their running efforts. A big highlight was when the last competitor crossed the line, everyone was there to celebrate with a corridor clapping and cheering – it was a really touching moment. The sheer enjoyment the runners get, and the satisfaction evident in completing the race makes it such a satisfying event to be part of,” Maffett said.
“Irrespective of speed, Run Larapinta is about the accomplishment and the journey – everyone handled themselves and the conditions admirably, and rose to the challenges presented to them, and should be extremely proud of what they’ve achieved.
“Some great memories have been made of the places the runners have been, and the people they’ve met and shared the race with; the sheer uniqueness of the terrain that the race goes through makes it such a memorable event to be part of. Some are even making plans to come back.”
Run Larapinta featured races of two different lengths with The Malbunka being a long course option with stages between 20km and 45km each day, whilst The Namatjira provides a shorter option with stages varying between 11km and 30km over the four days.
Run Larapinta has become a drawcard for runners due to the powerful allure of the West MacDonnell Ranges with its incredible terrain for trail running and endless kilometres of single track stretching through an incredible landscape of striking colours and scenery.
For more information about the Run Larapinta Stage Race head to RunLarapinta.com.au
For the full list of Overall Results CLICK HERE