The LaraPinta Trail…. and one big team challenge

16 Miners and one big challenge (and a lot of blood, sweat and tears)

Basecamp Writer Steph Quirk catches up with our Miners

Eight months ago 16 colleagues from QLD committed to running for four straight days across the desert. Ordinary people coming from a range of physical abilities and roles within their company (Mastermyne Mining), they began a transformational journey and have risen to the challenge. Run Larapinta is a 4 day stage race in August on the Larapinta Trail in the MacDonnell Ranges around Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.


It has stages 20km to 45km each day, with a total distance of around 130km over 4 days. The shorter Manatjira course has stages of 10km to 30km each day, with a total distance of around 80km over 4 days.


Some of these folks started the Basecamp Ascent Remote Training Program not being able to run 1km. With the mining industry being notorious for an unhealthy lifestyle (think drinking culture, social isolation and associated mental health issues) these Mastermyners are doing some good and becoming “Pin-up boys and girls” for what is possible. Ticking off bucket list goals, triggering positive changes in those around them, quitting smoking and getting fit is just at the start of what they’ve achieved so far. 


Now, six weeks away we asked Patrick McCoy (General Manager of Plant & Product Development) and Marnie Shepherdson (Senior Management Accountant) a few questions on first time training for a four day stage race. 


Patrick McCoy, 41 

GM Product and Plant Development Mastermyne Group

New Product Development Underground Coal Mining

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in Moranbah which is a small coal mining town in central Queensland. I loved playing and coaching Rugby League and the freedom that came with growing up in a small country town. I’ve never been much of a runner. I’m married with three children and living in Mango Hill close to Brisbane. 

Why did you choose the challenge of Larapinta?

The idea of putting the team together came from a few beers and pizza with the Captain (Ian Cook) one night in Mornabah, I was inspired by his passion for what he had got out of the event in 2019 so we thought if we were going to do it let’s make it worthwhile. My big WHY is to just become a healthier person, life gets busy as you get older and have kids and I wanted to get my fat bum off the couch to lose some weight, stop smoking and make my kids proud.

What’s experience you’ve had training with the coaches and the Basecamp team?

The training program has been fantastic. To have it set up each week and understand more about why we train certain ways has helped me so much. Mitch has been fantastic as my coach, I wouldn’t have come this far without him, he is constantly in communication with me and I can’t speak highly enough about the experience I have had under his guidance.


What was it like committing to an 8 month program?

Very hard, I have a job where I am on the road travelling away from home almost every week and this was always an excuse for me, it has still been hard to get motivated when on the road but having JBC and Mitch behind me has made all the difference.

How has Joe’s Basecamp program helped you achieve your goals? 

Well I have gone from a guy who struggled to run 5 km to a guy who has now completed in two trial running events (10km & 21km) has done 4 half marathon distance runs and a distance high of 25km. From my first half marathon distance to my last I had improved my time by about 30 minutes. Again just having Mitch to lean on and keep pushing me has been great.

Has anyone else commented on these changes or how you’ve achieved your goals? 

Yes with our group we are all very supportive of each other and this is a huge motivator.

What has been the biggest benefit of training for the Larapinta run?

Being active again and actually learning a bit about the science of running, go slow to go faster and further.

What is your next goal you have in mind now?

I have signed up for the Trial To Triumph which is an event that a mate of mine organises each year to raise money for cancer. My goal is to keep running and to do a trial running event every 6-8 weeks.



Marnie Shepherdson, 40

Senior Management Accounting

Wife and mum to 5 beautiful boys


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

As a youngster I loved all sports. I played everything I could. I was always much stronger in the water – swimming, surfclub, kayaking but also loved team sports, netball (did a bit of softball, hockey, volleyball).  I would usually win the school age swimming champion, but the athletics carnival was a different story.  Usually all the short distance running races I would come last. But I really didn’t care. I just loved being outside having fun with my mates. 


Fast forward into adulthood, and my husband Lance and I have 5 boys (2 grown up step sons Bryson 24, Carter 20, and 3 of our own boys, Thomas 11, Archie 9, Fraser 8) and life looks a bit different. We both work full time and run around after kids. I am the treasurer at the Junior Rugby club and we try to stay fit on and off. Our favourite thing to do is to go to the beach.


Last year I trained and did my first half marathon. I really am not a runner, but I thought… why not. I will give it a go. The training in the lead up went quite well. But the actual race day, I fell apart mentally and it was a real struggle.

Why did you choose the challenge of Larapinta?

I am doing this challenge to prove to myself that anything is possible and to show my kids that if you set your mind to something you can achieve it. You wouldn’t look at me and think – “yep, she could run 85km through the desert”. I think attitude is a big part of it. A work colleague and I did a half marathon a couple of weeks ago, and someone from the office said that we inspired them to get back running. Holy! I would not have thought that I would inspire anyone. So that was big for me. 


Plus getting fit, healthy and hopefully losing a few kgs is an added benefit. We are also raising money for 2 great causes. The McGrath Foundation and Suicide Prevention Australia. I don’t imagine there are many people who haven’t been touched in one way or another by cancer or suicide. 

What were you doing/how were you training before you heard of Joe’s Basecamp?

After the half Marathon in June 2019, I really hadn’t done much.  After I signed up for Larapinta I had started back running a bit, and I was doing a group PT session once a week.

How the training program helped you to overcome the challenges you had before?

I like the structure and that someone else makes the plan. All I have to do is stick to it (which I mostly do).  It is flexible, so if my schedule at work/home changes I can change the program days to suit my needs. I like the accountability. I also enjoy when I have completed my sessions and it turns green and says completed. Idon’t like seeing the red “missed session” buttons.

What’s experience you’ve had training with the coaches and the Basecamp team. 

Mitch is fantastic. I have only met him over the phone and zoom, but he seems like a really caring, kind person. He checks in on me each week to see how I am going and if I am having any problems. He also wants and listens to feedback about the program. I am not very strong and I was struggling with the strength sessions, so Mitch changed them and made them a bit easier for me. I am not a super athletic, fit person, but Mitch makes me feel very comfortable. Mitch also follows us on strava and has a facebook messenger group where we can catch up and ask questions.


Joe has also given some tips which have also been life changing for my running. Breathing through my nose really relaxes me and I can run longer. It also helps me relax my shoulders which means I don’t get a massive headache at the end of a long run. 

What was it like committing to an 8 month program?

Terrifying. I hate commitment. I refuse to join gyms because in my head then I feel like I “have” to go, rather than I “want” to go. I usually would start off strong, then stop doing it. Since training with Joes Basecamp I have had weeks where I lost motivation and focus, but I allowed myself that time, then gave myself a gentle kick up the bum and got back on track. I am so grateful to be given this opportunity and I don’t want to waste it.

How has Joe’s Basecamp program helped you achieve your goals? 

I can comfortably run a half marathon! The thought of running 2 hours, 2 days in a row doesn’t phase me.  I am fitter, stronger, more mentally tough than when I started. I have lost some weight, but not as much as I should have. Unfortunately you can’t out train a bad diet. Mitch has helped me set some goals around reducing alcohol and sugar in a way that I am comfortable with. 

How has Joe’s basecamp helped you from a mental and emotional standpoint?

Exercise is great for levelling moods and emotions. Since I have started this Larapinta journey I have also got back into meditation. I think the combination of exercise and meditation has been great from a mental and emotional standpoint. I would imagine on Day 4 when we wake up to the final 20km, it will be the mental strength we will have to draw on to get us through.

What is your next goal you have in mind now?

I would like to continue to do races around Mackay.  But to be honest I don’t really have a goal.  Once Larapinta training is done and hopefully the world opens up again, it will be back to more family time, kids sports, and generally keeping fit.   

And a holiday… I need a holiday.

Their goals ahead include an even bigger target which is to raise $40,000 for two worthwhile charities (The McGrath Foundation and Suicide Presentation Australia). They are banking on support from friends, family, colleagues and community. Your generous donations will motivate them to train hard, raise awareness for breast cancer and suicide awareness and push them over the finish line! To support them, you can donate here.

Plus for any donation made, you’ll go in the running to win a $500 credit for any Basecamp training package. Just remember to include JBC Donation in the notes so that we can include your entry.

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