Tasmanian skyrunner Hanny Allston and long-distance runner Kieran O’Brien from Brisbane have been crowned champions of Run Larapinta 2016, the second edition of the four-day, four-stage trail running race along the most spectacular sections of the Larapinta Trail in Central Australia.
Once the action got underway on Friday night with a twilight night race, runners from across Australia and overseas made their way through 20-45km stages and 11-30km respectively in the two distance options (the longer course Malbunka and the shorter course Namatjira) to finish today at Glen Helen Gorge.
Following four big days out on the trail it was euphoria at the finish line for Allston, who had been apprehensive, not about the ascent of Mt Sonder (Northern Territory’s fourth highest peak), but for the long open areas at the end. With today’s fast time of four hours, 51 minutes, 26, Allston logged the fastest overall time for the event in 14 hours, 34 minutes and 24 seconds.
“I think the tough thing today is just the mentality that it’s quite a long way, and you’re going to have tired legs, but by that point you’ve sort of accepted the fatigue, and it feels easier this day, whereas if you had to back up again tomorrow that’d be when it’d get really tough,” Allston said.
“It is tougher than I thought, I think I’d underestimated the roughness of the terrain in some areas, it’s so arid and rough out here, and you feel quite remote, so it has a different sense of difficulty I think.
“It’s just totally different to other events, the sense of satisfaction is pretty huge in this; when you’ve backed up four days in a row, I think you get a bigger buzz.
“When you know that you’re on the last day, it just gives you this drive just to find the finish line, and you know everyone’s going to have that tired euphoria at the end - there’s no way you want to miss out on that once you get to day four, you’re going to get through no matter what.
“It’s been awesome, and I’d recommend it to anyone to have a go, it’s a really good challenge.”
Allston lead Melbourne’s Bernadette Dornom, and Eibhlin Fletcher who locked away times of 17:33:24 and 18:37:24 for the four days overall to take 2nd and 3rd place in the Malbunka.
After winning the Chifley Alice Springs Resort Stage 1, Brisbane’s Kieran O’Brien managed to recover his lead today, to become overall Malbunka winner, with another win in the Tourism NT Stage 4. O’Brien’s overall time was 15:22:01.
But not without a good challenge from fellow strong front-runners Reuben Mcloughlin (Alice Springs) and Nicholas Guz (Melbourne) who took Stage 2 and 3 respectively to finish in 2nd (15:42:58) and 3rd (16:27:54) overall.
“Today I felt the best I reckon, just my feet hurt, I think I’ll lose a few toenails pretty soon, but I felt most comfortable today in the long run. With the high heart rate shorter ones I was struggling a bit; the longer stuff is where I’m comfortable,” O’Brien said.
30 kilometres is short, according to O’Brien, who usually runs 100 mile, all day running events.
“I’ve never been to Alice before, it’s a lot hillier, and I thought the trails would be a lot easier.
“It was essentially a holiday, but it was just so nice to be around great people, I mean everyone works as hard and puts in as much effort, whether you win or come last, so thank you.”
As the short course runners filed across the line on day four, it was local Alice Springs’ Bradley White who claimed the stage and the overall win in the Namatjira, in an accumulated total time of 8:16:48.
White lead Benjamin Billy and 2015 winner Laurent Rossignol, who finished in 9:04:57 and 9:13:35 respectively.
The women’s short course saw an exciting battle between Alice’s very own Emma Kraft (2015 Namatjira winner) who took Stage 1, and Elizabeth Dornom, twin sister of Long course runner-up Bernadette.
Dornom won Stage 2 on Saturday, Stage 3, by margin of just 27 seconds to Kraft, but extended her lead further today with a win by four minutes in Stage 4, locking in an overall time of 8:35:50 to Kraft’s 8:47:37. Madison Taylor was third overall (9:45:09).
Race Director Sam Maffett from Adventure Sports Event Management company Rapid Ascent (event organiser) said Run Larapinta this week had been bigger and better than anticipated.
“It’s hard to describe the elation you feel seeing these guys finish, the pride you have for them is immense.
“We’ve seen them push themselves through four massive days out on the Larapinta Trail. It can be a true test of will and sheer determination, and it is not to be taken lightly; setting and achieving a goal such as the Run Larapinta Stage Race through the rugged landscape of Central Australia.
“What we’ve witnessed this week is a group of people who have challenged themselves and overcome huge obstacles, and I just want to congratulate everyone for their effort out there, which was massive in scale. Well done to you all.
“The happiness you’ve shown out on the trail just to be here racing across such spectacular country, plus the satisfaction you’ve shown, and the respect and pride for one another, it really is admirable.”
Run Larapinta has become a drawcard for runners both recreational and elite; the quality of the running along the Larapinta Trail, combined with the incredible setting in Australia’s Red Centre, the friendly camaraderie amongst runners and the awe of the outback offers competitors an extraordinary event experience.
THE MALBUNKA - OVERALL STANDINGS
1 Kieran O'Brien (15:22:01)
2 Reuben Mcloughlin (15:42:58)
3 Nicholas Guz (16:27:54)
THE MALBUNKA - OVERALL STANDINGS - FEMALE
1 Hanny Allston (14:34:24)
2 Bernadette Dornom (17:33:24)
3 Eibhlin Fletcher (18:37:24)
THE NAMATJIRA - OVERALL STANDINGS
1 Bradley White(08:16:48)
2 Benjamin Billy (09:04:57)
3 Laurent Rossignol (09:13:35)
THE NAMATJIRA - OVERALL STANDINGS - FEMALE
1 Elizabeth Dornom (08:35:50)
2 Emma Kraft (08:47:37)
3 Madison Taylor (09:45:09)
For the full list of Results - CLICK HERE
For more photos - head to the Facebook Album HERE
When: Friday 12th to Monday 15th August 2016
Where: Larapinta Trail in the MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
What: A 4-day, 4-stage trail running race along the most spectacular sections of the Larapinta Trail with two course distance options:
The Malbunka (the longer course):
• Stage 1: 19km around Alice Springs to the Old Telegraph Station
• Stage 2: 39km from Simpson’s Gap to Standley Chasm
• Stage 3: 29km from Ochre Pits to Ormiston Gorge
• Stage 4: 45km from Redbank Gorge to Mt Sonder and Glen Helen
The Namatjira (the shorter course):
• Stage 1: 11km around Alice Springs to the Old Telegraph Station
• Stage 2: 18km from The Old Hamilton Downs Station to Standley Chasm
• Stage 3: 22km from Glen Helen to Ormiston Gorge via Ormiston Pound
• Stage 4: 30km from Redbank Gorge to and Glen Helen
Find out more at www.RunLarapinta.com.au
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