Lucy Bartholomew ran the Larapinta Trail and has the crazy stats and a new film to prove it.
Those stats include 231km of Larapinta Trail. 20km of wrong turns and dead ends. 54 hours of running. 5 minutes of sleeping. 2 pairs of shoes. And of 5 pairs of Le Bent socks on rotation.
In total Lucy ran 250km. It’s safe to say she learnt a few things about socks, shoes, and about herself in the process.
Our Gear Editor, Matt Wiseman, also works for Le Bent and interviewed Lucy on their behalf in the build-up to the release of her film: Running Out.
Matt: Hey Lucy! It’s been a few months since you ran into Alice Springs during the middle of the night after running the Larapinta.
Now, it’s been tough for us to keep much of that story under wraps until now, how excited are you to finally share your documentary of the trip? That must almost feel like another finish line, right?
Lucy: I’m so happy. When I crossed that non-existent finish line in Alice Springs, stopped my watch and took my shoes off; I was done.
What I didn’t realise is that Bryan’s (the filmmaker, among other things) own ultra was just beginning. The edit.
For six months we’ve gone back and forth with options for the film and ways to tell the story.
It’s really incredible to see the trip be shared in an incredibly beautiful and authentic way through the film and I just hope that people know that whilst it’s a movie about running, the message is deeper than just running.
Obviously you and your team (Photographer Josh Lynott and filmmaker Bryan Hynes) were sharing content and updates during the run and afterwards, but do you think there’s a lot that people might not know about the project?
Absolutely. I hope this story is shared far beyond the people we, as a team reach on our daily basis. Social media is such a cool tool to connect with people around the world and we really felt that before, during, and after.
I hope the people that see the film after following along back in March feel like it’s a long lost memory for them as well. Like they were there, they were part of the team.
And what a story it is! Is there a single moment that you remember as being particularly gruelling?
Oh, so many it’s hard to pick!!
I distinctly remember leaving the boys after a refuel point and making the decision to carry less water knowing I was going into river beds which had previously been full from some insane rainfall.
I remember cresting a mountain ridge and looking out at the river beds below and looking for a glimmer, a reflection of water in the landscape and I saw nothing but dry, hot, Aussie bush.
All I could do in that moment was focus on what I could control which was my effort and attitude but I have never had to focus so much on just taking one more step forward.
You obviously learnt a lot about yourself and your ability to persevere. What are you most proud of from the project?
I’m certainly most proud of my team and the community of Alice Springs. I’ve come to know what I expect of myself and what I’m capable of. I know I can be stubborn, can suffer and when I commit and care about something not much will stop me. But I didn’t think I’d lean so heavily on Josh and Bryan and the community.
It was a great lesson for me to ask for help and what gives me the most goosebumps in the film is watching everyone rise up, show up, and not give up. I couldn’t have and wouldn’t have wanted to do it without everyone that was there.
In addition to learning about yourself and other people, it sounds like you learnt a lot about running equipment in some pretty harsh conditions too!
We know it wasn’t all red desert sand on which you were running… Are we right in thinking there were sections of trail you actually had to swim?
We saw the Larapinta Trail in some of its most lush, green, and water-filled ways it’s ever been.
The locals that’d grown up there said they’d never seen it this way so it was a treat to see the river beds full (briefly) and the flora and fauna thriving.
The river beds that were full during the run became swims up to chest high… it was incredibly nice to cool off but because it never happens all the trail markers were underwater and I was always going too far down the gorges.
It’s lucky I’m a good swimmer as I held my phone above my head to keep dry and navigate whilst doing one-armed freestyle.
You’ve done some serious product testing for us in the past, but it sounds like this might take the cake! What did you learn about the Le Bent threads in the process?
I’ve always loved using the Le Bent sock range and am proud to be on the team but I don’t think I’ve ever had the same level of appreciation for the material I put between me and the ground.
I had five pairs of socks with the boys to alternate between depending on how my feet were feeling and protection from the trail, as well as the classic stink test.
The best thing about the Le Bent socks for this adventure was the material of the socks; being a blend of bamboo and merino wool it allows for breathability as well as softness and moisture-wicking.
I was in and out of water and needed something that dried as fast as my shoes, didn’t make my feet hot for the hours of relentless heat in the day, kept my feet warm in the full moonlit nights we had and lastly didn’t rub, cause blisters, irritate me… not an easy list to fulfil hey?
54 hours and 250km later and there isn’t just one sock but the whole range from Le Bent that ticked these boxes.
Now we all know how much you inspire people to run trails. What advice would you have for a complete beginner and on the other end of the spectrum, what advice would you give to someone wanting to run an Ultra?
I’d have so many things to say, and so would everyone else; I suppose my advice would be not to try and do exactly what everyone else is doing, wear what they wear, eat what they eat, run how they run — you do you.
Find what works for you and find YOUR ‘why’. Why do you want to run an ultra? Why are you going to strive to continuously find time in your day to lace up and run?
The most powerful thing my coach said to me before running the Larapinta was ‘Uninjured and stoked are all you need to be to make this happen. Be that, and you can do anything’.
And is there a particular Le Bent sock you’d recommend to either?
After working with the Le Bent team to design the Le Lucy Pro Sock I’ll never look past this sock that’s taken me on short runs, long runs, mountain runs, desert runs, and road runs.
They haven’t failed me and I hope the same for you!