Course Descriptions

Run Larapinta course description

The Run Larapinta Stage Race will be conducted along some of the most spectacular sections of the famed Larapinta Trail in the MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs in Central Australia. Stretching a total of 223km from the Old Telegraph Station to Mt Sonder in the West, the Larapinta Trail is an incredible journey through a timeless landscape – making for simply superb trail running.

Each stage passes through an incredibly diverse range of landscapes that makes for remarkable running:

  • Steep sided, red rocky gorges often with waterholes in the bottom
  • Rocky ridge tops providing views to the edge of the earth
  • Dry savannah country filled with wildflowers
  • Wide valleys with steep rocky mountain ridges and summits all around…


The races

The Run Larapinta Stage Race includes stages of two different lengths so runners can select the set of stages that matches their running ability and objectives. Whilst Run Larapinta is primarily designed for runners to complete all 4 stages of a given event, runners may also enter individual stages.

The Malbunka

These stages are longer and pass through slightly more demanding terrain. Best suited to more experienced runners looking for a larger challenge. Entry requirements apply.

  • Stage 1: 19.5km around Alice Springs to the Old Telegraph Station.
  • Stage 2: 41km from Simpson’s gap to Standley Chasm.
  • Stage 3: 30.5km from Ochre Pits to Ormiston Gorge.
  • Stage 4: 45km from Redbank Gorge to Mt Sonder and Glen Helen.


The Malbunka stage race has the following ITRA ratings:

  • 3 Endurance Points, 2 Mountain Points and Finisher Rating of 260.
  • UTMB points: 3 Points (new system).



The Namatjira

These stages are shorter and more accessible for runners of all fitness levels and whilst still passing through some remote and spectacular terrain, they are a little easier than the Malbunka Stages.

  • Stage 1: 11km around Alice Springs to the Old Telegraph Station.
  • Stage 2: 20km from The Old Hamilton Downs Station to Standley Chasm.
  • Stage 3: 22km from Glen Helen to Ormiston Gorge.
  • Stage 4: 30km from Redbank Gorge to and Glen Helen.


To be eligible for overall prizes and official placings, competitors must enter ALL stages of The Malbunka OR ALL stages of The Namatjira.

Trail textures and terrains

All runners should be prepared for the conditions on the trail and have footwear and clothing to match. There is a lot of variety along the trail with some sections being made up of nice crushed rock that is not too technical, through to other sections that are very rough, rocky and sharp. In summary, the trail is very rocky and provides tough conditions for shoes both in terms of tread and cushioning as it is always hard and harsh under foot. Very little of the trail is sandy and running gaiters are not needed.

Large sections of the route is in mountainous country that will see you going up hillsides, and along the top of rocky ridges before descending to more open savannah on the other side.

Stage 2 is the toughest of all the days and should be treated with respect whilst Stages 3 and 4 can proove hot and long if you have gone too hard too soon. Read the course descriptions for more details.

Trail marking

The entire Larapinta Trail is very well marked with National Parks installed arrows* and signs leaving little, if any, doubt on where to go. There will basically be very little to no ‘Rapid Ascent’ course markings put in place other than when you arrive into a finish area and when we need you to go a specific way. The National Parks markings are quite frequent but runners must remain aware and alert for the markings at all times and follow the main route as marked.

(*Blue arrows on a white background)

The courses for each race will utilise these National Parks arrows* and runners will not need a map or navigate your way along the trail - you just need to be aware of your surroundings and it is mandatory that you carry the maps in the event program adn GPS files omn your phone as a backup so you have something to refer to whilst out on the trail and for usage in an emergency.

Water points, checkpoints and marshals

Water points will be established along the courses for all stages but may still be 20-30km apart so runners will definitely need to carry water with you whilst on the trail. These water points will be manned and will double as emergency access points with marshals with radios and / or satellite phones.

Water points will have drums of water as well as hydralyte sports drink products that allow you to refill your bladders / bottles.

There will basically be no food or nutrition at water points (other than some fruit cake and / or snake lollies) and we encourage you to be completely self-sufficient for nutrition to get you from the start to the finish.

For some stages it will be mandatory for runners to leave the start and/or subsequent water points with a minimum amount of water (such as 3lt) to help ensure you have enough to get you to the next water point / finish. (Many people under-estimate what they need). 

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