The Malbunka Stage Descriptions


We strongly encourage all competitors to download and read the event program that includes info like the final event schedule, stage details, cut-offs, course maps and more. Download from here (18 meg download).



Malbunka Course Descriptions

Listed below is a summary of the Malbunka (long course) stages. Index:

  • 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



CLICK HERE to download a GPS file for all courses that you can import into your own device.

This link downloads a KML file to your phone / computer that can be used to help navigate the course during racing. It can be used on your GPS watch or mapping app on your phone (click here for instructions how to download this to your phone and use it on the free mapping app MapsMe - our recommended app)


The Malbunka - Mercure Alice Springs Resort Stage 1

The Run Larapinta Stage Race starts with a unique stage that will provide an ‘easy way’ into the stages to come AND a memorable trail running experience as you run through sunset into a night time finish under lights.

Date: Friday 11 August, 2017
Start location: The Mercure Alice Springs Resort
Finish location: The Old Telegraph Station in Alice Springs
Length: 19.5km
Race start time: 1730
Water points: Approx 12km pt
Course record: 1:23:18 Paul Munro and 1:29:39 Hanny Allston
Cut off times: All runners must pass the water point (12km pt) by 7:15pm
Difficulty rating:  Medium

Stage 1 commences at 5:30pm (allowing you to fly into Alice Springs that day and still race) and follows a scenic route around the perimeter of Alice Springs on some of the running and riding trails that surround the town. These trails are not overly technical, but they do have a great sense of ‘flow’ and will provide a terrific introduction to the Central Australian terrain you’ll enjoy over days to come.

The race will also provide the incredible experience of running through the desert at night time, under a universe of stars and the outback world around you. All runners must start with a head torch that you can turn on when darkness descends (about 45min after starting) that provides yet another spectacle as you see runners ahead and behind you weaving along the trail under the guide of their lights. This will be an incredible race experience.

The stage finishes in the grounds of the Old Telegraph Station where the finish chute is lined with silent Ghost Gums and the mighty Todd River (dry!), providing a memorable finale to the first stage of racing.

The Telegraph Station is just 5km from the centre of Alice Springs making for an easy transfer back to your hotel (warm down jog?).

Please note, Stage 1 of the Malbunka and the Namatjira are not on a great deal of the Larapinta Trail but alternative trails that provide a terrific introduction close to Alice Springs. They are beautiful trails.



The Malbunka - Lasseters STAGE 2

This is a challenging but incredibly scenic run that links two of the MacDonnell Range’s most popular (and impressive) landmarks.

Date Saturday 12 August, 2017
Start location: Simpsons Gap – 25mins drive from Alice Springs
Finish location: Standley Chasm – 45mins drive from Alice Springs
Length: 41km
Race start time: 0730
Water point: 14km point at Mulga Camp and 27km point 2kms south of Jay Creek
Course records:
4:31:00 Paul Munro and 4:53:34 Hanny Allston
Cut off times All runners must have departed the Fish Hole water point (27km pt) by 12:30pm
Difficulty rating: Starts off easy and gradually increases in difficulty. Last 10km is difficult and technical


The trail starts out quite flat and fast, making for comfortable running pretty much through to Jay Creek at the 25km point. Along the way it passes through a couple of picturesque water holes and small gorges, Spring Gap being a highlight with its stunning waterhole and reflections of the twisted gums and red cliffs flanking it’s edges.

The last third – or 14km is the crux of the stage, whilst also providing some of the most spectacular running of the entire race. Runners will pass through the Fish Hole gorge and then come to the 2nd water point (located 2kms south of Jay Ck). Approx 4km later turn right onto the ‘Alternate High Route’ that will take you a magnificent ridge top section high in the Chewings Range. The climb to the ridge top is quite steep and rocky but once atop the ridge you’ll want to pause to take in the breath taking views in all directions.

Descending from the ridge is also quite exciting as you scramble through Fig Spring down to the valley bottom. The trail from here through to the finish is very rough and technical, with a lot of rocky sections and is slow going for all competitors, making the finish line at adjacent the Standley Chasm cafe a very welcoming sight!.

This stage uses Larapinta Trail section numbers 2 and 3:





THE MALBUNKA - Desert Technologies STAGE 3

Stage 3 provides a great sense of journey as runners complete a very linear run through long sections of the Heavitree Range from the historic Ochre Pits to the dazzling Ormiston Gorge. 

Date: Sunday 13 August, 2017
Start location: Ochre Pits – 1hr10mins drive from Alice Springs
Finish location: Ormiston Gorge Car Park - 1hr25mins drive from Alice Springs
Length: 30.5km
Race start time: 0730
Water point: There are NO WATER POINTS along the entire course for the Malbunka. Runners need to be self-sufficient for the entire stage.
Mandatory gear All Malbunka runners must start stage 3 with a minimum of 3lt of hydration - we will check all runners at the start. No 3lt water = no start. (NOTE: there is no water at the Ochre Pits start line so please fill up in Alice Springs)
Course records:  
3:07:50 Paul Munro and 3:19:45 Hanny Allston
Cut off times All runners must have departed the Fish Hole water point (27km pt) by 12:30pm
Difficulty rating: Medium - Hard

Almost immediately after starting runners pass through ancient ochre pits used by aboriginals for their rock paintings and body art. Keep running and soon runners head through the impressive Inarlunga pass with its amazing cycads and lush growth acting as an oasis in the harsh rocky environment around it. Through the pass and the course moves through some long, wide valleys that are almost akin to an alpine landscape with its U-shaped bowls and rocky ridge lines high above – just watch the heat as it can get a bit hot in here.

Continue through Waterfall Gorge and the trail turns for the sky and climbs up to the top of the Heavitree Gap Range for yet more magnificent views of the centre of Australia with views extending in several hundred kilometres in all directions. Continue along the ridge line and down to Base of Hill it’s a flat and quite featureless run through to the finish at Ormiston Gorge that provides some great views of Mt Sonder (which you tackle tomorrow!).

This stage uses Larapinta Trail section number 9 (plus a bit at the start).
See the Section 9 details on the Larapinta Trail website (including maps, trail notes and more).






The final stage is certainly the longest and the highest of all the stages and provides a fitting end to a fantastic few days of running.

Date Monday 14 August, 2017
Start location: Redbank Gorge – 1hr45mins drive from Alice Springs, 25mins from Glen Helen
Finish location: Glen Helen Homestead - 1hr20mins drive from Alice Springs
Length: 45km
Race start time: 0730
Water points: Redbank Gorge at 15km point and Rocky Bar Gap at 27km point
Course records:  
4:18:09 Paul Munro and 4:51:26 Hanny Allston
Cut off times All runners must have departed the Rocky Bar Gap water point (28km pt) by 1:00pm
Difficulty rating: Hard – Large elevation gains plus some mildly technical terrain

The Malbunka runners commence with an out and back run to the summit of Mt Sonder – the Northern Territory's 4th highest mountain at 1380m above sea level (the start is at 700m). The climb starts out quite steeply to ‘The saddle’ before levelling out a little into a gradual climb for 5km to the summit. This upper section is quite runnable (especially on the way down!) and provides ever increasingly beautiful views the higher up you go. High five the marshal at the top and then return back down the same route to then turn left and continue east on the Trail towards Glen Helen.

The trail then skirts the south flank of Mt Sonder and makes for good running as it’s flat and on good, non-technical crushed rock terrain. Pass through Rocky Bar Gap and be wowed by the panoramas along the next section that provides spectacular views of Mt Sonder’s east face (and revel in the fact that you “were just up there”!).

Soon after is a sharp climb up to ‘Hilltop Lookout’ for more views of the world around us and then down a knee knocking descent back to the plains. From here to the finish runners will be gunning for home along a flat, and sometimes sandy trail that leads you to the finish line at the Glen Helen Resort on the banks of the Finke River.

Cross the finish line and collapse after an incredible week or head to the water hole for a swim or to the bar for very well earned drink.

Congratulations, you’ve just completed The Malbunka at the Run Larapinta Stage Race!

This stage uses Larapinta Trail section numbers 11 and 12:



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