The Namatjira Stage Descriptions

Listed below is a summary of the Namatjira (short course) stages for both April and August events in 2021.

  • Stage 1: 11.5km around Alice Springs to the Old Telegraph Station.
  • Stage 2: 22km from The Old Hamilton Downs Station to Standley Chasm.
  • Stage 3: 20km Birthday Waterhole to Standley Chasm.
  • Stage 4: 26km from Counts Point turn off to Ellery Creek Water Hole.

The Namatjira STAGE 1

Thursday 26 August, 2021
Start location: 1km north of Mercure Hotel in Alice Springs
Finish location:Old Telegraph Station in Alice Springs
Length:11.5km. Elevation: 130m up and 130m down
Start time:17:30
Water point:Approx 6.5km pt
Cut off times:6:45pm at the water point (~6.5km pt)
Difficulty rating:Easy/Medium

Runners start just before sunset and then run through twilight and into darkness for the unique 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 (at 6:15pm).

The course follows a scenic route around the perimeter of Alice Springs on some of the running and MTB trails that surround the town and finishes in the grass parklands of the Old Telegraph Station where the finish chute it lined by hisoric Ghost Gums.

These trails are not overly technical (with the exception of a couple of short sections), 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 Telegraph Station is just 5km from the centre of Alice Springs making for an easy transfer back to your hotel (warm down jog?).

The first race of the event takes place on the running and mountain biking trails that surround Alice Springs and follows a scenic route past many of the town’s landmarks. These trails are not overly technical(with the exception of a couple of short sections), 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 Namatjira – STAGE 2 

Stage 2 is a very challenging but incredibly scenic run that takes runners across some challenging (but spectacular) terrain.

Date:Friday 27 August 2021
Start location:Old Hamilton Downs Station – 1hr30 drive from Alice Springs
Finish location:Standley Chasm – 45mins drive from Alice Springs. (2hrs drive from Hamilton Downs)
Length:22km. Elevation: 600m up and 525m down
Start time:08:00
Water point:400m south of Fish Hole at the 6.5km point. Runners must depart with a minimum of 3lt water with you. 
Cut off times:12:30pm at Fish Hole water point
Difficulty rating:Hard – steep and technical terrain

Namatjira runners will start at the Old Hamilton Downs station homestead on the northern side of the range and then run ~6km along an easy 4WD track to join the Larapinta Trail at Jay Creek and the water point at 6.5km pt.

From here on the trail is a lot harder with some very technical running over rough and very rocky ground as the course climbs to the top of the Chewings Range ridge line – providing some incredible views across Central Australia and the MacDonnell Ranges. Descending into valley the trail continues to undulate and remains rocky as you run, walk and scramble along the valley that ultimately leads to the finish at the Standley Chasm café.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Competitors please note this is the hardest stage of the event with long rocky sections providing slow going and many climbs and ascents that can proove tough in the heat – so please come prepared to embrace all elements the course throws at you.

This stage uses Larapinta Trail section number 3:


The Namatjira STAGE 3

This is a new stage over a very rugged and spectacular section of the Larapinta Trail, in some ways similar to stage 2 (but a little bit easier).

Date:Saturday 28th August, 2021
Start location:Birthday Waterhole track – 1hr drive from Alice Springs (last 10km 4WD only)
Finish location: Standley Chasm – 45mins drive from Alice Springs
Length:21km. Elevation: 760m up and 680m down
Start time:08:00
Water point:4km – Birthday Creek Waterhole
Cut off times:NA
Difficulty rating:Medium / Hard – steep and remote terrain

April Stage 3 runners start on the Birthday Waterhole Track, 10km in from the junction with the Red Centre Way (where the long course runners start). Runners commence with 4km of easy running along the 4WD track to the waterpoint at the Birthday Creek Waterhole.

Past the water point the course picks up the Larapinta Trail and skirts the base of some ridges before a very steep and tough climb up to the iconic Brinkley Bluff – the course climbing 550m in just 3km as it zig-zags its way up the side of this steep ridge. The views from the top make it well worth it as you are high up in the Chewings Ranges with views across the continent.

From the summit it is largely ‘all downhill’ for 10km to the finish line at the Standley Chasm café although the highly technical terrain and loose rock remains that makes it a taxing descent through Reveal Saddle and finish arch.

The Namatjira – STAGE 4

This new Stage 4 covers some great terrain, visiting one of the MacDonnell Ranges’ favourite lookouts before finishing at its favourite waterhole for a swim.

Date: Sunday 29th August 2021
Start location:Counts Point track – 1hr drive from Alice Springs
Finish location:Ellery Creek Waterhole – 1h drive from Alice Springs
Length:26km. Elevation: 730m up and 800m down
Water point:13.5km pt at Serpentine Gorge
Race start:08:00
Cut off times:11:45am at Serpentine Gorge 13.5km pt – tbc
Difficulty rating: Medium

Runners commence with 3.5km along an easy 4WD track to join the Larapinta Trail as it climbs steeply up the ridge to the spectacular Counts Point lookout on the main ridgeline (runners complete a short 700m out and back to visit the iconic lookout and get their name ticked off.)

The spectacular running continues along the ridgeline and then drops down to water point at Serpentine Gorge at ~13.5km and continues along the undulating trail below the ridgeline to the ultimate finish line at the Ellery Creek Waterhole.

We will have a ‘beach party’ style set up at the waterhole with chairs, shade, music, food and drinks – and of course the magnificent waterhole to swim in – to help celebrate the end of the 2021 Run Larapinta. It will be a finish line to remember!


CLICK HERE to download a GPS file for all courses that you can import into your own device. Please note that The Namatjiria stage is shown in green.

This link downloads a KMZ 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!).

ITRA pts  /  UTMB qualifying race

2021: The Run Larapinta – Malbunka stage race is registered with the International Trail Running Association (ITRA) and will provide successful runners with ITRA points (to help runners qualify for large international races), and UTMB points as an official qualifying race for this iconic event::

Malbunka – 4 stage finisher receives:

  • ITRA rating: 3 Endurance Points, 3 Mountain Points and Finisher Rating of 250.
  • UTMB points: 3 Points (new system).

For further information on what the ITRA points mean click here and for more information on the UTMB (Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc) click here.