Troy Lum and Deb Nicholl victorious at Run Larapinta 2017

Run Larapinta

You may have been following our coverage of the Run Larapinta stage race over the course of the back end of last week and over the weekend. But if not, here’s a quick review of how the four days in the desert went and who pipped their heads up for some placings.

Run Larapinta featured races of two different lengths with The Malbunka being a long course option with stages between 20km and 45km each day, whilst The Namatjira provides a shorter option with stages varying between 11km and 30km over the four days.

Run Larapinta
Troy Lum – Overall long course winner

Unseasonably hot temperatures in the thirties meant the third running of the four-day, four-stage trail running race along the most spectacular sections of the Larapinta Trail near Alice Springs was the toughest edition in the race’s history.

In the long course option, Troy Lum and Deb Nicholl were victorious. Troy took men’s win in a total running time of 17 hours, 15 minutes and 40 seconds to Aaron Royall’s 17:30:32 and Gary Philpott’s 18:14:34.

In the ladies race Deb finished with an overall time of 18:02:46, with Kristen Brace second in 19:36:09 and Marie Heitz in third in 20:37:12.

“It’s an absolute surprise, I’d had some experience out here as a tour guide in the past, so with that familiarity of the landscape I felt quite comfortable running,” said Troy.

“It’s my first time stage racing, and first time racing here. I’m fairly new to ultra running, my first ultra was in 2015, last year I did mostly road running and marathons, and this year I wanted to achieve a few longer goals.

“Apart from the actual racing, just running with other competitors was fantastic, and to share the scenery and seeing things I’d never seen before was what made it; it was fantastic, and the scenery is just amazing.”

Deb is a familiar face to many on the ultra running scene, particularly up in Queensland, but this was also a first-time stage race for her and she came away with the overall female win in the Long Course Malbunka race.

Deb Nicholl – Overall long course winner

“I’m in total shock, I said I’d be really happy with an age group podium. I don’t normally run day after day, it’s that backing up day after day that’s difficult. But it’s the people that make it, we’re all out their struggling with the same conditions, and I’ve made some really great new friends.

“The whole experience was way beyond my expectations, until you see it with your own eyes you don’t realise how stunning it is. But it was hard!” said Deb.

In the Namatjira shorter course race, two runners also dominated the four days – with ultra endurance athlete Courtney Atkinson and Jessica Short winning each of the four stages and overall.

Run Larapinta
Jess Short – Overall short course winner

Over 120 runners from across Australia and overseas travelled to the Red Centre for Run Larapinta which has become a drawcard for runners both recreational and elite; partly due to the powerful allure of the Larapinta Trail with its incredible terrain and scenery, and the attraction of the challenge, adventure and accomplishment this unique stage racing event offers.

Race director Sam Maffett from Rapid Ascent Adventure Sports Event Management said that over the three years, it was definitely the hardest conditions Run Larapinta had been held in.

“It wasn’t expected as the courses are the same, but it was a lot harder because of the weather conditions, it’s unseasonably hot, and when you’re running through 33 degrees here in the sun – it is difficult.

“We took steps to provide additional support to the runners; we brought in an additional water point, and brought the race starts forward today, so runners could start in the cool.

“People are all proud and satisfied and happy – overall, it was another terrific event. It has shown new people new landscapes and given them a big challenge that they’ve stepped up to and completed so they should be very proud of themselves.”

Full podium results:



  1. Troy Lum (17:15:40)
  2. Aaron Royall (17:30:32)
  3. Gary Philpott (18:14:34)


  1. Deb Nicholl (18:02:46)
  2. Kristen Brace (19:36:09)
  3. Marie Heitz (20:37:12)


  1. Courtney Atkinson (7:29:27)
  2. Thomas Windsor (8:56:45)
  3. Matt Watson (9:12:37)


  1. Jessica Short (9:26:26)
  2. Eliza Edkins (10:40:01)
  3. Julie Day (11:17:28)

For the full list of Overall Results – CLICK HERE

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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

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