231km – Redbank Gorge, up Mt Sonder and back, then East along the Rugged and Spectacular Larapinta Trail through to the Telegraph Station in Alice Springs

Brought to you by Alice Springs Running and Walking Club, the West Macs Monster (WMM) is the iconic and formidable end to end Larapinta Trail race you can’t not attempt! 231kms of spectacular and rugged single track affectionately named the ‘Sonder Monster’ that winds itself through the ancient West MacDonnell (Tjoritja) National Park landscape in Central Australia. The course provides an intimidating, yet alluring test of physical and mental endurance in a non-stop, end to end race format with a 60 hour cut-off. Only a handful of individuals have ever attempted and succeeded at completing the full trail distance in under 60 hours with the current fastest known time of 40 hours 55 minutes 18 seconds set at the West Macs Monster in May 2019 by Shane Johnstone from Western Australia.

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Whether it be an awesome Solo effort or a Team of up to 4 members, you are in for an unbelievable adventure race!

WEST MACS MONSTER RACE DETAILS BELOW

ENTRY FEE INCLUSIONS for 231km SONDER MONSTER (Not applicable to buddy runners):

  • Hard Copy Course Maps and GPX Files
  • SPOT Tracker Device 
  • Race Bibs (Front and Rear)
  • Aid Stations and supplies
  • Provision of professional Medical support
  • Event medals and trophies or equivalent
  • Park entry fees to see the actual Standley Chasm ($15)
  • Camping/access fees at Larapinta Trail Campsites/trail heads during event for entrants and their immediate crew only
  • The trail running experience of a lifetime!
  • 6 ITRA Points

WHAT THE ENTRY FEE DOESN’T COVER:

  • Transport to Race Start lines (WMM will provide an option at a small additional cost)
  • Accommodation at any other location not on the Larapinta Trail before, during or after the event
  • Any meals before or after the event

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

Start with a climb they said….it will be fun they said…..

Well a climb it is! 8km and ~740m of elevation gain just to get the heart rate going – to the top of Mt Sonder with the most amazing 360° panoramic vista. This climb sets the scene for the

Mt Sonder Summit

Mt Sonder Summit

remainder of this amazing trail. Those keen to enter the full 231km Sonder Monster will be rewarded time after time after time with vistas beyond belief. From here you descend the same path and at the base of the mountain, turn to the east and head towards Alice Springs. Some running relief for a while with beautifully formed undulating single track taking you to your first water stop – Rocky Bar Gap. Beyond here you will ascend to a lookout where you can relive your Mt Sonder visit…by looking back and enjoying a most stunning image of the mountain, filling your field of view.

Eastwards you continue through  to the stunning Ormiston Gorge and the second aid station. Then more fantastic single track rolling through spinifex hills and climbs to more ridge lines as darkness descends! Make no mistake, this trail has many technical elements and at times some navigation is required following the Larapinta Trail blue triangles (which are reflective at night). But you will be following in the footsteps of thousands of people who traverse this track every year. No doubt you will encounter many walkers who will be blown away by your ambition to run the whole trail.

The approach into Ellery Creek Check point will most likely be in the dark and a warm welcoming light awaits. From here you will head generally North East and across the longest single stage of the Larapinta Trail into the depths of the Chewings Range at Hugh Gorge. Here the course starts to cover some of the more challenging terrain. The terrain goes from river rubble, technical, shale ascents and descents, bouldering, rocky and everything in between. You travel up Hugh Gorge, over Razorback Ridge, through Spencer Gorge and up the magnificent Brinkleys Bluff past ancient cycads and then to the Standley Chasm checkpoint. Trail markers are reflective and show up well in your lights. The markers provide regular confidence checks, but it will still be necessary to keep your fatigued wits about you in the night sections.

The Ellery Monster 128km competitors commence their eastward journey at 9am on Saturday. It is anticipated that you will all integrate together over the next 128km to the finish line at some point.

Razorback Ridge

Razorback Ridge

Beyond the Standley Chasm checkpoint you will go into the most amazing back canyon, with very rocky technical sections and views up and down rugged ancient valleys full of Ghost Gums, Cycads Palms, Mulga Trees and spinifex. You will reach Millers Flat where you need to turn left and climb the high route option. The climb up this hill will test your weary legs, but is the first of only three significant climbs to go. It is possibly the most spectacular and technical of all the climbs. Again, don’t forget to take some priceless selfies on top of this ridge (if you are lucky enough to be there during the day).

The 65km Standley Monster runners start at 6.30am on Sunday Morning from the Standley Chasm checkpoint. It is likely you may well encounter them as well from here to the finish line.

Off this high route hill, through fish hole waterhole aid station and continuing to Mulga Camp – well deserved check points, restock your fluids and eat some food. This signifies the end of the real hard stuff, with only two mild climbs in comparison to come. Easier running is your experience now through to Simpsons Gap checkpoint. From Simpsons Gap, 25km of fantastic running until the finish line.

The 25km Simpsons Monster Competitors start their journey at 12pm on Sunday. There is a chance you will come across them, or they may come across you as you make your way over the last section into the Alice Springs Telegraph Station. Compared to what you have endured so far, the ups and downs of this section pale into insignificance – however – you will be on weary legs well and truly so don’t be fooled! The last few kilometers takes you over Euro ridge, regarded as the best view of Alice Springs from the Trail and then, finally, down into the historic Alice Springs Telegraph Station finish line – wow!

What a journey! You deserve every bit of the accolades you will receive for your amazing effort in this Monster of an Ultra Marathon! The 231km Sonder Monster!

Summary

Approach to Hugh Gorge

Approach to Hugh Gorge

A totally unique and seriously challenging ultra race! You don’t need to be a speedster but a high level of fitness and mental toughness will make a huge difference! There are literally thousands of

photo opportunities! Some beautiful easy running interlaced with some extremely demanding, technical ascents and descents. Gaiters are not required to protect your legs, but some people opt to wear them. We do recommend as a minimum – good quality trail running shoes (and maybe a spare pair in your drop bags), hats, sunscreen, your mandatory gear, plenty of fluid intake and ongoing nutrition.  Some navigation is required to confirm you are on the correct path at all times – and remember – follow the BLUE arrows at all times!

We guarantee you will reflect on the significance of this run for many many years to come! Good luck!

ELEVATION:

As calculated by the International Trail Runners Association (ITRA) (https://itra.run/race/19639-west-macs-monster-2021-231km-sonder-monster&2021)

Elevation gain 8,740m

Elevation Loss 8,847m

EVENT PROFILE:

231km Sonder Monster Event Profile

 

 

 

 

 

COURSE MAP:

231km Sonder Monster Course Map

 

 

 

MAPPING:

GPX Map

GPX Download

KML Download

KEY DATES:  

231km Compulsory Briefing: Thursday 19th May 2022, 5pm, venue TBA

231km Start: Friday May 20th 2022, 9am from Redbank Gorge Trailhead

231km Cut-off: Sunday May 22nd 2022, 9pm

REGISTRATION:

Registrations Open: Tuesday October 1st, 2021

Online Registrations for personalised event bibs close: Thursday April 30th , 2022

Registrations still available online up until 5pm Friday 13th May 2022 providing pre-qualifications are met. Some conditions apply.

REGISTRATION COST:

Solo

Early Bird (before midnight October 31st, 2021) – $890

Normal Entry (Nov 1st, 2020 – April 30th, 2022) – $990

Buddy Runner/Pacer – $40

Teams of 2 to 4

Early Bird (before midnight October 31st, 2021) – $990

Normal Entry (Nov 1st, 2021 – April 30th, 2022) – $1090

BUDDY RUNNERS/PACERS:

Buddy runners are subject to some rules contained in the general event rules. They are eligible to run in the 231km Sonder Monster from the Ellery Creek Checkpoint (~103km). All buddy runners must attend the Compulsory Briefing and comply with the race rules including mandatory equipment that is the same as the competitor they are pacing. Buddy runners can only start and stop legs at the publicly accessible Aid Stations.

DROP BAGS:

Drop bags can be left at the time of registration for any of the 4 major aid stations and the finish line; Ormiston Gorge ~49km, Ellery Creek ~ 103km, Standley Chasm ~166km and Simpsons Gap ~206km and the Finish Line 231km.  Our preference is for the insulated zip top shopping bags for consistency. Check point labels will be available to be filled out at registration to attach to your bags for clear identification. We encourage you to identify your bags with your own coloured ribbon or similar to allow you to find them quickly at an aid station.

RELAY TEAM NOTES:

The 4 relay legs are completely different from each other. Changeover points are identified on the Elevation Profile. Our notes below may assist you planning who runs what…

Leg 1, Day Time, 2 Climbs (the first one is pretty intense) interspersed with great single track running

Leg 2, Day into night time. Long leg with little water. 2 significant climbs, some technical areas but generally great running conditions

Leg 3, Night (maybe into day time). Long haul over undulating ground, before going into Hugh gorge where it becomes more technical. 2 significant climbs towards the end in the more challenging areas

Leg 4, Day into night. Very technical valleys, travelling up rocky creeks for the first half with 1 very significant climb. Then 2 lesser climbs and good single track running conditions into the finish line

REGISTRATION CONDITIONS:

Due to the physically challenging nature of the event and associated risks the following entry criteria will apply for all 231km ‘Sonder Monster’ race entrants.

Solo Competitors:

  • Evidence of successfully completing a 100km or longer race within the past 2 years (Due to COVID related race cancellations, we may accept a training runs to the same distance. Please contact us)
  • Pre requisite run must be submitted by midnight January 31st

And

  • Being at least 18 years of age at the date of the event starting

And

  • All solo entrants will also need to provide a medical certificate from a doctor within one month of the race start date stating that they are fit to compete.

Team Competitors:

  • Teams – each member must provide evidence of completing a trail marathon in an official event in the past 12 months  (Due to COVID related race cancellations, we may accept a verified training runs to the same distance. Verified means a secondary way of validating the run with someone else or similar). Please contact us.
  • Pre requisite run must be submitted by midnight January 31st

COMPULSORY MEDICAL CHECK:

A compulsory medical cognitive check will be carried out at Standley Chasm checkpoint (166km) as a welfare check before being allowed to continue in the event.

CUT-OFF TIMES:

Generous cut-off times are in place as follows:

103km Ellery Creek Check Point – 27 hours (12pm Saturday)

166km Standley Chasm Check Point – 49 hours (10am Sunday)

206km Simpsons Gap Check Point – 56 hours (5pm Sunday)

231km Alice Springs Telegraph Station – 60 hours (9pm, Sunday)

COMPULSORY BRIEFING:

Thursday 5pm, 19th May 2022 at a venue TBA.

POINTS:

Completion if this race is worth 6 ITRA Points and is a qualifier for the 2022 UTMB

ACCOMMODATION:

There are many accommodation options in Alice Springs to suit all budgets. There will be event provided transport at an additional cost to the Start Line on Friday morning. More details will be provided closer to the time.

CLIMATE INFO:

In  May, the average daytime temperature is 23 degrees with overnight lows around 7 degrees. There is approximately 11 hours of daylight and a low chance of rainfall. Generally, people find that due to the low humidity of the dry desert air, they need to drink more fluids than usual.

HELPFUL LINKS: