Run Larapinta

Enjoying a peak at of the trails before tonights first stage of Run Larapinta
Enjoying a peak at of the trails before tonights first stage of Run Larapinta

Run Larapinta – Tackling My first Multi Stage Event


Run Larapinta excited me from the start. I will be amongst the first participants to complete in any event on the Larapinta Trail and I feel a huge amount of appreciation to Sam and Rapid Ascent to have the opportunity to race through this special place in the world. I’ve always want to do a multi day stage event, I always wanted to complete a desert run. Run Larapinta looked like a great beginners stage event for me to try and see what stage racing is all about.  The Larapinta Trail is a 223km track that is broken up into 12 sections on the West MacDonald Ranges just outside of Alice Springs. Run Larapinta is about 100km short, due to logistics and competitor safety,  and is broken up into 4 staged events. It takes in some truly magical scenery of the wondrous gorges, ridge tops and dry sandy desert creek beds. I can’t wait to start the first stage which is tomorrow night.


I am a bit nervous about my first stage event. I know I will be sore backing up day, after day, after day, after day. I strained my hamstring pretty badly about 10 days ago during a long jump competition with my kids and my partner of sand dunes on the gold coast. I pulled my hamstring right at the bone and had to hobble around like an old football player with my hand on my butt so I could walk. It hurt to sit on and I could not stretch it at all. Running hurt with every step the next day. I basically have rested for the last 2 weeks and looked at this injury as the injury I was meant to have to make sure I had a proper good taper.


Yes and like most people in the country I am also getting over that awful cold. I was pretty bad. I did not realise it at the time but my asthma drugs had finished and I was feeling so lethargic that I did not want to move. I was being measured with my talking and movement to prevent coughing fits from coming on. It’s pretty scary when I think about it. If I’m not talking there is a problem. My partner Steve was probably enjoying the peace and quiet. After 2 days of lying down, I decided that it was not sickness but my asthma that was holding me back and took my drugs and seemed to bust through to a massive recovery just before Run Larapinta.


I am also nervous about my nutrition plan for the 4 days of running too. I know how to fuel and hydrate for a 10-160km. But they have always been over 1 day. I’ve run Lamington Classic and SCC concrete boot but that is about the end of my stage experience. So I’m keen to see how my refuelling goes post, between and pre racing. I think this will be crucial to how well I perform out on the trail. There is always the danger of over eating too. I just have to listen to my body and trust that it knows what it wants.

Shona Stephenson enjoying the soft technical trails of Run Larapinta
Shona Stephenson enjoying the soft technical trails of Run Larapinta


Run Larapinta has 2 stage events. A long course The Malbunka and a short course named the Namatjira


I have chosen to run the long course called The Malbunka.


Stage 1



19km under the beautiful stars of the desert. I have heard there is nothing quite like the carpet of diamond sky that the desert becomes at night. It will be a cruisey first stage. Starting at the Chifley Alice Springs Resort and finishing at The Old Telegraph Station also situated in Alice Springs.



Stage 2


39km  We will start at Simpsons Gap a 25 min shuttle bus from the Chifley Alice Springs Resort, through water holes of Simpsons Gap and up a rugged ridge line of the Chewings Range, through Fig Spring and into the valley of Stanley Chasm.


Stage 3


30.9km This day will be totally unsupported and I will have to take all my supplies with me for the 30.9km of remote desert running. I think this day will be the most exciting of all of the stages. We will be traveling through ochre pits, gorges lined with cycads. It will then open up into a wide valley with almost alpine like flora as we climb upon onto exposed ridge with views for hundreds of kilometers, down to Ormiston Gorge with views to Mt Sonder.


Stage 4


45km. This is the make or break stage. The last stage of the event. The longest and I believe we will all the the sorest. I can’t wait to see how my body will be reacting or adapting to this stage event. I’m hoping the amazing energy of the landscape will be pulsating through my muscles and I fly to the finish line pain free…..something to wish for.

On the final day we will be heading to the Summit of Mt Sonder the NT’s 4th tallest mountain reaching the heights to 1380. Lucky we will be starting at 700M! It is san out and back run to bag the  summit and I am really looking forward to the stunning views the higher I go.

We will then head east towards Glen Helen the finish line and our accommodation for the final evening.

We will then aced to the top of Hilltop Lookout for more breath taking views and then roll down the hill on an extremely tough descent on tired sore legs. We will then have to sand run along the edges of the banks of the Finke River to the finish line at Glen Helen.

There race starts tonight, in only a few hours. I’m so excited I can’t wait to get going.


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