My husband received a Rapid Ascent email last year and thought Run Larapinta sounded fun, he is a runner. We had never been to the red centre and as we like to combine a bit of a holiday with racing we entered. They send you a sample training program which we tried to follow and it ended up being pretty good.
Arrived Thursday and spent the arvo and next day getting organised.
Run 1 was 11km on Friday evening along tracks around town. It was a bit windy and dusty as expected but quite beautiful and an easy introduction to the race. It was cool turning on the head torch to complete the course as the sun went down. Back to town to get some food and get organised for the next morning.
Day 2 (20km 31 degrees)was an early start onto the bus with a drop off at Old Hamilton Homestead about 1 and a half hours away. Day started with a nice easy 6.5k flatish run and then it was on!! Up a long steep switch back hill and across a ridge with amazing views, it was starting to heat up but the breeze and views on top were great. How hard could this be I though Ive done the big climb now its getting down and through the gorges, simple. So So wrong!!! The trail pretty much ended at the start of the descent which was steep, rocky and steep and rocky, and then there was a bit of steep and rocky, then a gradual climb though the gorges again picking your own track trying not to lose the trail and it was getting hot. I new there was a climb at the end but there really is two. Once over the second last one I started to feel a bit sick, nutrition wasn't going well, heart rate was going up and the thought of "when the F%$k is this going to end" was a constant. Came up another part of the water course and all you can see is a sheer wall, this was my demise, time for a little sit down and cry at the bottom and then a very slow ascent and descent. There is then a short walk trail to the finish at Standly Chasm where tourist were clapping, which was too much for me. I ran across the finish line and promptly burst into tears much to the amusement of other finishers. What a day, physically and mentally so tough, amazing but brutal, no amount of running training could prepare you for the stage as really other than the first part, there was no running. Back on the bus home and a quick rest and then do it all again, organise stuff for tomorrow, pick up our wheels for the next few days, eat and pack as we were moving to Glen Helen the next day.
Day 3 (22km 22 degrees) another early start and a 1.20 drive to Glen Helen. Weather had changed and was cool but really windy. Today was the easy day, felt heaps better and ran well on the mostly undulating not technical trails, the finish took you around the pound walk at Ormison Gorge which was quite hilly but absolutely spectacular. All went well and really enjoyed the day. Although 22 kms this took me an hour less than the 20km the previous day. Back to Glen helen, set up our camper, the true hard core slept in teeny tiny tents being gently buffeted to sleep by the gale force winds and exfoliated by the fine red dust. Rest pack eat repeat!
Day 4 (31km 16 degrees 1degree in the morning) the long coursers headed off for a gentle run to the top of MT Sonder in the dark in 55km winds and 1 degree. We skirted the bottom and had an enjoyable undulating run for the first half then it was up and over Hilltop Lookout which was a long climb up and a steep descent. Onto the flats and the non trail runners like myself started to catch up with the mountain goats who passed us previously, things were going well only 5km to go feeling good running well, trip over my own feet, hyper extend the left leg and there goes the hammie, lopped home, shuffling down and flat bits and limping up the hills at least it was only 5 km and I still finished far faster then expected, running down to Glen Helen was awesome, for a not particularly good runner to get though 80km over 4 days relatively in one piece was something I was well chuffed about.
Truthfully the difficulty of this run is not the run its self, its the backing up day after day, the organising of your gear each night, the long drives to and from the start, the technical terrain that you just can't run on but have to be mentally switched on for or you hit the dirt. The things that make it awesome is the sense of achievement each day, the people that your run and chat with, you tend to see the same people off and on during each stage as you are going similar pace, the are you OK and a smile when you are down and the high 5s when things are going well, the friendships formed over race stories around the bar each evening and the quiet nervous chats in the mornings when you all know what's your getting yourself into again. Would I recommend others do it?? HELL YES!!!. Would I do it again??? Not a chance!!!
Photos are in order of the day they were taken.