Last weekend I ventured up to Alice Springs to participate in the 4 day Run Larapinta Stage Race; 84km of running along the Larapinta Trail in the West McDonnell Ranges, just west of Alice Springs. An absolutely amazing experience!
Here are my top tips based on my experience:
1. DO sign up for an event like this. It was the most amazing long weekend, in the company of some fantastic like-minded crazy people all out to have an awesome time (and many clearly escaping the cold, wind and wet of Melbourne). It was so different to the usual “drive to race, do race, drive home from race” (without the ability to interact too much with other competitors), to a real deep shared experience with a bunch of people you’ve never met before.
2. DO take all kinds of clothing, especially if you haven’t got in as soon as race entries open and grabbed a room at the Glen Helen Resort where you spend the last two nights. There are only 16 rooms and ~140 people racing, so 124 people in either small tents or a campervan if they have brought one. Out in the Red Centre it is 25-30 degrees during the day and close to zero at night! I slept in four layers including my TA hoodie and a puffer jacket. And take gloves. I repeat take gloves. I’ve never known my fingers as cold and painful as for the first 5km of the run on the last day. It was FREEZING!!!!
3. DO occasionally completely forget you are in the middle of an event and the clock is running. On occasions it was just so beautiful that we found ourselves stopping, staring at the scenery with jaws dropping, taking loads of photos and just absorbing it all in. The Garmins carried on regardless. We didn’t care.
4. DO be prepared to do lots of running up and down steep climbs and mostly over rough surfaces with loads of rocks, from thousands of small ones (all potential ankle twisters), to huge boulders, sometimes requiring you to boulder hop for 1-2km at a time. But don’t feel the need to run if you don’t want to. This is trail running. Everyone walks whenever they want. It’s expected. I knew going into it that I am absolutely useless on the technical downhill stuff. There were people far older than me just flying past me like mountain goats while I tip-toed down the climb. But I didn’t care.
5. Given 4. above DO set your expectations around how long each day will take. The “short course” event which I was participating in was 11km, 20km, 22km and 30km (yes, there was a longer event too). But the technical nature of the course meant the intensity wasn’t as high as you might expect, but the duration was far longer than you might expect. Take your normal run time for that distance, and double it.
For me it was a perfect weekend of getting some endurance in the legs to kick off my build for IM WA (Busso) in early December. Now to knuckle down and get some good consistent training in the bank.
Determination. Consistency. No Excuses.