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 The 2004 Metrogaine - John Barnes Reports

The huge number of checkpoints on our control cards showed the organisers had been busy. The friendly nature of rogaining was exemplified by Paul when he handed out maps to those in the queue at registration. We wondered if there were really 200 pointers on offer, which Paul confirmed.

Both eastern and western loops had plenty of bush, both seemed similarly profitable, and both looked enough on their own. I'd looked west and suggested we do that as an area we didn't know very well, but Mardi pointed out we didn't know the eastern half that well either, so we went east.

10 am rushed up on us before we'd fully refined our route or timings, and I only had some very rough estimates of where we should be each hour. It was great to see people heading in all directions at the start.

We puzzled with Sue and Walter at our first checkpoint, No. 49, "No of pipes go under track across creek", as while there were 2 pipes running along the creek, a third ran diagonally under the track.

The clump of checkpoints around Beecroft Park 29-30-37-69-55-120-54 were close together but still took quite a time to get. 360 points. Would a few 200 pointers have been quicker than these?

Up to 32. We were perplexed looking for the no. of pipes 15m SE of the road at 87, as while the drain was obvious on the west side of the road no pipes appeared on the SE side. I crawled through the pipe under the road, through a couple of sumps, without it reappearing on the surface. After puzzling over it with another team, 50m further along the road we came to the correct gully.

The detail of the tracks marked on the map was generally very good. We stayed too close to the houses heading to 74, and pushed through a bit of bush, but on our way back after 118 followed the track correctly marked slightly further east. 

We received a psychological boost by beating the team we were with at 118 to 103. They took an unmarked but well made track down the spur between Camp and Terra Ulong Ck while we headed back around the marked tracks.

The clump of points around Pennant Hills Park were quite awkward to link. We headed from 103 around the tracks to 117, then aimed for 111 by heading roughly west through the roads, and making our way through the non-yellow sections to Malton Rd. From 111 we headed to 102 down Byles Ck to Devlin Ck, mistakenly heading up it a few metres too far before reading 102's clue (a transmission tower), seeing the lines overhead, and realising we were too high. We stopped at the first tower we reached, puzzled over the incorrect number before realising we should be at the next one.

Still half an hour behind time. Mardi doesn't like dropping points so we raced out to the model plan field at 82, again pleased to beat a team we met there back to 204 (they took the roads while we took the tracks). 
Down to 108 on the Lane Cove River. Agony for Mardi as she destroyed her toenail again. We saw a team who didn't appear to be on a track coming down from the Woods St reserve, so we foolishly didn't find the track up the hill but made our own way. Great to cool down under the tap at the 2nd of the 2 halls at 104.

A short cross country section towards 96. 3.5 hours into the event and again half an hour behind schedule. We decided to drop 47 unless there was a track to it, which when reading the clue answers(No horses/Track ahead/Please keep Off/No bikes?) seemed quite likely, so when we found a track across Belinda Creek we did go see it. An onlooker who'd seen other rogainers on the course was keen to help our search (after we'd seen the sign!), as were a few other onlookers elsewhere on the course.

75 was beside a beautiful pool. 125 was on an old bridge in the maze of bridges (M2, railway & Beecroft Rd), but it all made sense when we reached there. Below the bridges was pleasantly cool. 

We were revived by a berry cake and apricot Danish as we travelled alongside the M2 to 129. Mardi rejected my suggestion that we travel along the top of the motorway wall as a way of abiding by the rogaine rules of not travelling on the M2 nor passing through the adjoining private property, so we went around the streets for the final few hundred metres.

Out towards 202, down the track from Waterloo Rd, and down Terrys Ck. The track along the creek seemed disappointingly overgrown, until we realised we should be on the other side, where we found a superb trail. 4.5 hours.

Down towards 113 we did a few unplanned zigzags below the M2. After counting pylons below Epping Rd we headed to Epping Pool. We headed up the wrong creek before realising we were going the wrong way, and then headed along Stanley and Abuklea Rds to get back to Terrys Ck. We continued our bad navigation and zigzagged out to Vimiera Rd before coming back to 98.

We enjoyed running along the little tracks beside Terrys Ck. 88 came up as a bit of a surprise. We aimed towards 209, hoping that the culvert would extend under the railway. Unfortunately it didn't. With half an hour to go we headed up Blaxland Rd feeling very warm at the Rose Gardens (unfortunately the tap had been disconnected). Across Epping Rd bridge and down to 86, immersing ourselves below a service station tap en route. We then picked up the 50-33-24 clump. 8 minutes to go. Straight to 51 (missing 46) and then to the HH (missing 20), 2 minutes late and exhausted. Dad and Mardi's Mum had beaten the clock by a few minutes after heading NW, while Mum and Rick had only been a minute late, heading to most of our checkpoints but by a more efficient route.

A few minutes to drink and cool down before devouring a pizza. A superbly organised AGM. Waitresses coming around offering donuts during the presentation was great. If Bronwyn can organise this rogaine she should have no worries with a PhD.

For those who think it was a bit hot, there will be plenty of beaches to swim at in the Terrigal rogaine, Nov 21.