Evolution of the Rogaining Map (a Brief History)

By Tristan White

With the most recent Autumngaine having the new generation of LIDAR (LaserImaging, Detection and Ranging) data which is publicly available, contour elevation from the Department of Spacial Services, rogaines are able to be set in even more fine detail than ever before, as can be seen from the below comparison of the NSW Department of Lands shot to the most recent LIDAR image set.

This got me wondering about what rogaining maps in years past have been like. Given that I only started serious rogaining in the past decade, I asked Ian Dempsey, longtime organiser, competitor and mapmaker about this and here’s his response, including the 1983 3½-hour map and clue sheet:

“Paddy Pallin Adventure Stores had been running this as a 3½-hour event for many years but was struggling to find organisers. They approached the newly-formed NSWRA to negotiate us taking over the event, which we did in 1985 at Putty, further north on the Putty Road, and we extended it to a 6-hour rogaine, which it remains to this day.

“In the 1980s and early 1990s, after registering on the day of the rogaine, you typically received a folded paper 1:25000 topographic map (supplied by the then NSW Lands Department) along with 6 or 8-figure grid references for each checkpoint that you plotted on your map. The map was often then cut to size and covered with clear contact or folded inside a plastic map case.

“This approach had some limitations. First, limited field-checking of the topographic maps by the Lands Department meant that there were frequent omissions (e.g. tracks) and inaccuracies (e.g. the position of watercourses in flatter forested terrain). Second, organising events on overlapping map sheets created cutting and pasting challenges for competitors. This was also the pre-GPS era and, despite course-setters’ best efforts, finding checkpoints in slightly different locations to that marked on the map wasn’t uncommon.

“By the early 1990s, colour photocopying costs had reduced enough to allow pre-marked maps with map corrections to be given to competitors. In the next decade, NSW rogaining maps started to be produced via several computer-aided drawing programs such as OCAD and Adobe Illustrator, sometimes with the scanned topographic map as a background image. Now, free access to LIDAR data, and topographic data such as Six Maps Ship n Clip service, to produce detailed base maps for checking in the field, is commonplace. The other very helpful innovation in the last five years is the ability to use computer tablets in the field loaded with georeferenced maps and drawing programs to make accurate and real time changes to rogaining base maps.

“One consequence of these improvements in producing rogaining maps is that competitors expect far more accurate maps than they used to. This places extra demands on mappers and course-setters, particularly in longer-duration events. I wonder how others think about this change in expectations? Is this change helpful or does it take away some of the fun and randomness of our sport? (e.g. by happenstance avoiding a large patch of thick vegetation that slowed others down)”

The map and clue sheet are shown below from the 1983 3½-hour event with some fascinating differences with the today’s events:

  • Only 20 CPs in total
  • CP circles were not shown on the map; only grid references. Participants had to plot their own circles
  • There was no relationship between the CP number and its corresponding score
  • CPs were worth between 1 and 4 points. Nowadays we might scorn at wasting time for a 20 pointer when in this event there were only 33 points on the course!
  • Bonus points awarded for early finishes after clearing the course (although better placing given to the team back first in today’s events is in practice the same thing)
  • Clues had no “the” and “a” prefixes (the former implies the feature is shown on the map, in the latter case it is not). I can’t help but wonder what the difference between “knoll” and “top of knoll” is.
Map for the 1983 Paddy Pallin Rogaine
Checkpoint Descriptions for the 1983 Paddy Pallin Rogaine

Shown below is the 2001 Paddy Pallin Map, based in the same location as the recent Autumngaine, including the identical HH location. Indeed some CPs shared the same location. By this point Checkpoint locations were pre-marked on the map, though a careful comparison of the two maps shows much less detailed topography compared with the recent LIDAR set. Also note that the gridlines show Grid North, rather than Magnetic north, something that would take another few years to convert from!

2001 Paddy Pallin Rogaine Map

I’d be interested in other people’s memory and experiences associated with the evolution of rogaine maps.

Colo Quiz

What was the original name of the Colo River (as named by white settlers)?

Correct! Wrong!

A second expedition up the Hawkesbury River was commenced on 28th June, 1789 by Governor Phillip. Captains Hunter, Collins and George Johnston and Surgeon White accompanied him. During this expedition the Colo River was explored and named 'Second Branch", the first branch on the Hawkesbury River being the Macdonald River.

Approximately how long is the Colo River?

Malcolm Gray
Correct! Wrong!

The first 35kms have properties either side, the next 60 kms are rarely visited. There are many steep cliffs on the Colo further upstream and access to the river is difficult. There is a book that describes Colo River Passes by Brian Corliss and a sketch map by Bob Buck.

From were does the name Colo originate?

Ian Almond
Correct! Wrong!

In what year did white settlement take place on the Colo (approximately)?

Correct! Wrong!

What year did the Upper Colo Bridge open?

Correct! Wrong!

See the following link from SMH 4th march 1936: https://coloriver.com.au/history/SMH-4th-march-1936..jpg

The bridge spanning the Colo near its mouth is known by locals as what?

Correct! Wrong!

The Bridge to Nowhere was officially opened by the Minister for Public Works, NSW, Mr Davis Hughes, on 2 August 1969. This bridge is located just upstream from the mouth of the Colo River at Lower Portland. An article prior to the bridge opening reported that the long range plans envisaged the bridge forming part of an alternative route to the north (Hunter Valley). Local residents stated that the bridge would not benefit them as they lived on the opposite bank of the river. Despite this, the building of the bridge commenced. Papers reported that 'Work has begun on a $225,000 "bridge to nowhere" over the Colo River at Lower Portland.' This bridge led to Una Voce, the guesthouse of the South Sydney Leagues Club and its members and a couple of other properties.

The first 16 kms of the Colo is tidal . What is the approximate tide time difference to Port Dension at the Putty Road bridge?

Correct! Wrong!

Lower Portand Ferry is 3:05 behind Fort Denison. https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/documents/maritime/usingwaterways/tides-weather/tide-tables-2017-2018.pdf

The Colo River begins at the confluence of two rivers / creeks. Which ones?

Chris Stevenson
Correct! Wrong!

You can check it on the geographical names board web site here: http://www.gnb.nsw.gov.au/place_naming/placename_search/extract?id=JPIOwpUlMa

The Colo River is well known to fishers for catching what?

Correct! Wrong!

Australian Bass (Macquaria novemaculeata). Bass can be caught from the mouth of the Colo all the way up to the junction with Bob Turner's track and beyond. Turtles and carp are also common.

The Colo River floods. There is a river gauge near the Upper Colo Reserve. What level in metres is considered a "moderate" flood?

Chris Stevenson
Correct! Wrong!

The ambient level of the Colo at the gauging station is about 0.76m. The highest it has been in the last 10 years is 12 metres. This photo of the Putty Bridge was taken when the river was at 10m. http://www.bom.gov.au/fwo/IDN60233/IDN60233.563033.plt.shtml

The Colo River is a great place to kayak and there is a published kayak trail. How long is the Colo Kayak trail?

Chris Stevenson
Correct! Wrong!

You can easily kayak the 30 kms from the Upper Colo Reserve to the mouth of the Colo River. Once upstream from the Upper Colo Reserve the river is very shallow in sections and more suited to liloing than kayaking. (Or wait for a flood).

Which of these Creeks /Rivers does NOT flow into the Colo?

Correct! Wrong!

What is a good reason for NOT competing in the Paddy Pallin Rogaine on Sun 16 Jun 2019?

Correct! Wrong!

This next rogaine includes absolutely beautiful country and is only 90 minutes from Sydney CBD. The rogaine will also take in a lot of private land, which you will never see if you don't join in.

How well do you know the Colo River?
Not a great result :> Was your map upside down?
You need to compete in our next rogaine and learn more about the Colo
Pretty good!
Compete in our next rogaine and get to see more of the Colo
Great job you really know your stuff.
You cheated!
I reckon you cheated. It is hardly a trivia quiz if you look up the answers. If you really did get this score without assistance then Respect!

Share your Results:

“The Spring Balance” 6-hr Metrogaine, Sunday 24th March 2019

Coordinator’s Report, by Michael Watts

While sunny and clear, a quite hot, humid and windless day greeted entrants as they assembled at Springwood Public School for the 2019 Metrogaine – an unusual (and unexpected) day’s weather for the Blue Mountains in late March. Overnight rain made for some slippery tracks, and encouraged the leeches to be out in force. It was dry during the event, then a heavy downpour just at the conclusion made entrants, administrators and caterers all grateful for the school’s large covered areas and school hall.

Around 300 entrants launched themselves out of the school grounds at 10:00am. This was a later start time than usual. In planning, we anticipated that many, if not most, entrants would arrive by train and the start time was set to make this more practical. While there were a goodly number of ‘trainees’, the vast majority of people drove. Fortunately, there was plenty of parking available at the school. The problem appeared to be the frequency of trains, one an hour on Sundays, as well as the logistics of entrants getting to, and parking at, a convenient starting station.

Great cover at Springwood Public School (Credit: Rachel Merton)

Most people stayed out pretty close to the 4:00pm deadline – with a few teams late, some due to missing the train at Blaxland. Thanks for the phone calls – it helps the organiser’s fingernails a great deal to know that all the teams are accounted for within a few minutes of the end of the event.

Thanks to all of the entrants – we hope you had an enjoyable day and event. Congratulations to all the category winners and placegetters and to the overall score leaders – Team 86, Ivan Koudashev, Brian Brannigan with 1130 points in the lead, Team 104, Tim Austin, Jonathan Worswick second with 1080 points and Team 36, Gill Fowler, Jess Baker narrowly third with 1050 points.

The event itself was generally very well received, with a lot of positive comments about the area, quality and accuracy of the map, food (including some gluten free) and the side activities. And a few gripes about not enough tar considering it was a Metrogaine and far too big and steep a course, insufficient variety of food and no salads.

Street Flags (Credit: Rachel Merton)

The Blue Mountains Gazette published an interview with Greg King and Andy Macqueen, about rogaining and their experience. Read it here at https://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/story/5957091/spring-into-rogaining/

The ‘curious coincidence’ elves also had a win at this event. Martin Dearnley is nursing a small rib injury from slipping over in Sassafras Gully. Where did he trip? Wait for it … en route to Martin’s Falls! (He’s on the mend.)

There were two incidents during the event.

The first was the indistinct track marked above the cliff-line between 46 and 39 that turned out to be on private property, resulting in one very irate landholder. This is why, in the early afternoon, we put tape and signs up at each end of this track saying for rogainers not to use it. Our apologies and thank-yous to teams affected by this track closure. We didn’t hear of any teams traversing this track after the signs were posted.

The second incident was an entrant running out of water on the climb between 27 and 100 and suffering heat stress on the way from 100 to 81. Thankyou very much to the teams that provided assistance –  telephone notification to the hash house, and gave generously of their water, electrolyte and salt tablets. A big thankyou also to Andy Macqueen, who walked in from 46 with water and electrolyte and met the team along the Bullants Track. All ended well, with the team member recovering enough to walk out via 81 and 55 to Blaxland station.

Preparations for this event went down to the wire, with the final permit landing late Friday afternoon. That’s right, the last business day before the event. As is becoming more common for events located close to Sydney, getting a suitable area involves numerous landholders. In this case, Blue Mountains National Park, Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) – separate permits for both urban and track/bush areas, Crown Lands and Derubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council (DLALC). While very helpful, both BMCC and DLALC struggled a bit to fit ‘rogaining’ into their idea of an ‘event’ and their permits process, which made the process time consuming for us and frustrating for them.

Issues like – our entrants would not be staying at the admin centre? So, were we a demonstration? What were we demonstrating about? What would our route be? Would our ‘walking groups’ have a group leader, supplied and trained by the NSWRA? What were their qualifications, certifications and employment status? If not, how would the ‘walking groups’ know where they were going! What do you mean, there’s going to be 140 plus groups, each following their own route, that may change as they progress! Major road crossing points need to be marked, and manned to supervise group crossings.

Bush Flags (Credit: iwanderbutiamnotlost88, Instagram)

To add to the joy, our first choice of Hash House bailed on us after the State election was called – they have a contract to provide a polling place, and could not cope with two events on the same weekend. The original caterers had a similar problem. This meant finding a new Hash House site and caterers at short notice. Many thanks to the extraordinarily helpful admin people at both Springwood Public School and the Springwood Salvos. Having the Hash House site up in the air also complicated course setting, map making and the approvals process.

For Tristan, this was the second rogaine he’d set in six months. A sterling effort – walking all the tracks, coming up with the games, setting the control locations and working with the vetters, flag hangers and collectors – Andy Macqueen, Greg King, David Williams, Christine Vibet, John Anderson, Belinda Kenny, Tova Gallagher and Rachel Merton.

Looking forward to seeing you at the next event, Michael Watts.

Unsporting Conduct

It has been brought to my attention that several teams, including some good ones, crossed out of bounds on the weekend. If this was deliberate then this is very unsporting conduct. If this was unwitting, then I am sure they feel guilty and will be a little more careful next time.

As a rule, I try not to cheat on rogaines but let me give you a few scenarios that involve me cheating and nearly cheating from the weekend:

  1. I actually went out of bounds on the weekend. I visited control 30. I didn’t realise that at the last minute this control was made out of bounds. (That will teach me for socialising and not listening to the course setter briefing). I got to where control 30 should have been and was cranky because there was no flag. I even stopped and took a photo to prove I had been there. It wasn’t until the event finished that I realised that the control had been made out of bounds and I could have (should have?) been disqualified then and there.
  2. Just before the event started I was also planning to break the rules. My starting course was planned to be 46-32-24-74. This would have meant crossing the out of bounds area. I hadn’t realised the road had an out of bounds corridor next to it. By chance I was talking to Ted Woodley before the event and he pointed out the fact that my planned course was breaking the rules, so I changed my course to make it legal.
  3. I wore a GPS watch. Rule 7 states: “The possession of other navigational aids, including pedometers, altimeters and GPS receivers on the course is prohibited except when event organisers provide a means by which information on the devices cannot be accessed whilst on the course.” I do not wear my GPS watch to cheat and for most of us there is no on course benefit to having a GPS watch during a day time event (night time is a different matter where distance is more difficult to judge). I love wearing a GPS watch so I can review my track afterwards. In a championship events we make provision for bagging GPS devices, but we do not provide sealable bags for non championship events, mainly due to the admin overhead.

I have competed in over 80 rogaining events and I too cheated on the weekend and intended to cheat more, but in two of the cases, inadvertently. I suspect the other teams that cheated also failed to notice the out of bounds. Is not noticing a good excuse? Not really, but in the absence of a team lodging a formal protest the results will stand. If the offending teams crossed the out of bounds knowingly then that is very unsporting.

My message:

  1. Take careful note of out of bounds areas
  2. Listen to the pre-event briefing
  3. Don’t cheat deliberately and try not to do it accidentally.
The planned course of an unwitting cheat.

better contours with ‘nswtopo’ software

Just a quick note for any NSW setters who have used my ‘nswtopo’ software to make their maps.

I have just put out a tentative v2.0 of this software. The headline addition is a new feature for contours and spot heights. There is now really good, publicly available elevation for all of NSW, so I added a facility to make contours from this data very easily.

Obviously this is significant because contours are our bread and butter. We are used to contours from the NSW database, which are mostly manually created contours dating back decades. 5-metre contours from this new elevation data (derived from lidar) give a far more accurate depiction of terrain. (Also, they look fantastic. I suggest adding shaded relief for the full experience.)

OK, hope this is useful,
— Matthew

Tenth Mingaine Coming Up

Tenth Minigaine coming up

It’s that time of the year when injured toenails from past rogaines are growing out, February is nearly half gone, Mardi Gras is coming up and its Minigaine time.

2019 is the tenth annual Minigaine to be included in the NSW Rogaining Association annual program in and around Sydney. I remember the first one at Manly Dam. It was a bit controversial. Such a short event and with the option of going with a team or on your own. Would anyone come? It was the time of the first iPhone – everything was getting smaller and faster. In retrospect the NSWRA timing was pretty good. The popularity of the event took off – it was accessible, good for first timers and didn’t take over the whole weekend. At the competitive end it was suited to sharp navigators with a strong spring in their step. When the result came out sole combatants had done pretty well. Maybe two or more heads wasn’t an advantage after all. No oxygen wasted on discussing route choice, no conversations affecting concentration and causing navigational lapses. No one to blame. Any mistakes mine and mine alone.

This year the event is at Western Sydney Parklands. An expansive area. Given recent rains should be quite green. The 9.00am start will avoid some of the warmth of the day. I’m hoping for some bush as these days I like the navigational challenge as am not quick on the open spaces.

Last year the Hawkesbury Skygaine Mingaine was also west of Sydney and it was great. David Williams and crew did a good job first of all in finding yet another new area in Scheyville National Park. Can’t say there were ocean beaches like 2017 at Cronulla or harbour views like when we went to Mosman or the river views of when we went to Cooks River one year and Lane Cove River another. But what the Skygaine did have was a nice mix of open ground and forest, plenty of tracks but also opportunities for the odd short cut. There was also abundant route choice and a few traps for the unwary. The map itself was a fine piece of work at 1:15000 scale and 6 metre contours. There were chunks of out of bound but controls were judiciously set around them with no temptation to encroach. The whole map was surrounded by private land small holdings in a gentle mustard colour.

What can expect at the Parklands? The organisers say a mix of parkland and urban area with features of grassy fields, woodlands and lookouts. Sounds good to me.

Now, Rogaining started as a 24 hour event. Not by orienteers as many assume. It was bushwalkers down in Melbourne, Australia who invented the now worldwide sport of rogaining. It always had a strong social element and not to mention that the taking part was more important than the winning. Food provided during the event was a key. Some time later 12 hour events were introduced, then 8 hour and 6 hour. None of them ‘real’ 24 hour rogaines but hard to argue with what the people wanted through proof numbers entered. I would recommend the longer events to all. They take a different approach, no need to rush, take your time and enjoy the scenery. Come back to the Hash House for a meal, a rest or a sleep. The tortoise often does better than the hare.

However, at the short and speedy end of things and as its Minigaine time on February 24th, I forecast it is only a matter of time before the Committee comes up with the Microgaine – 90 minutes! Such an event would complete the virtuous circle right down to the Orienteering 45 minute ‘score’ event. Made hugely popular in Sydney through the Sydney Summer Series developed by Ross Barr and now in its 20 something year. In the event of the Microgaine (you read it here first) I would request that the Series Points Score introduced in 2018 have some kind of handicap or reduced score for the short event – we don’t want any gaming of the system!

Don’t forget to enter the Minigaine by deadline

Julian Ledger

48 Hours of Rogaining!

An interview with Toni and Smiffy on their experiences at the NZ and Tas Rogaining Championships

While many people, including regular “shorter duration” rogainers, believe that doing a 24-hour rogaine and staying out all night is crazy, longtime NSWRA competitors Antoniya Bachvarova and Andrew Smith decided it wasn’t enough and had to enter 24h events on two consecutive weekends. Publicity Officer Tristan White asked them a bunch of questions to hear about their experiences in the recent New Zealand Rogaining Championships (24-25 November) and the Tasmanian Rogaining Championships (1-2 December).

Smiffy & Toni receive their trophy at this year’s NSW Champs

Tristan: What was the location of each of the events?

Smiffy: The NZ Rogaining Champs were set on the outskirts of Dunedin with a small part of the course covering a suburban area, other parts explored the extensive network of walking and mountain bike tracks just NW of Dunedin.

The Tasmanian Rogaining Champs were held on the northern part of the Forestier Peninsula, 60km south-west of Hobart. While primarily on the Bangor farming property it also included parts of Tasman National Park.

Tristan: Tell us about the two courses and how they compared?

Smiffy: The course for the NZ Champs was unusual for New Zealand, set in the hills behind Dunedin, with altitude ranged between 80 and 700m. The terrain was mostly steep, and varied between native rainforest, pine forest, rough open areas overgrown with flax, gorse and other weeds, and sub-alpine tussock/shrub land. A lot of the off-track was almost impenetrable and the rest was slow. There were some patches of native forest with moderate undergrowth. A couple of reasonable size creeks intersecting the course were potentially tricky to cross in high water.

A rugged river crossing in the NZ Champs
(Credit: Matt Bixley, NZ Rogaining Association)

The course setter, Matt Bixley, and his team put a lot of effort into mapping all the tracks and variety of vegetation to make route planning easier.

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t kind to us, nor to the organisers. There was a major rain event in the week before the Rogaine. As a result, the creeks were up and most of the vague tracks on the course had become unrecognizable. It also rained throughout the event, which not only made us wet and very cold for most of the time, it also made the already tough course even more challenging.

We were struggling to read the fine detail on the map, as our glasses were wet and foggy. At night our torch lights couldn’t penetrate the mist, so any navigation off track was almost impossible. As the rain intensified, all surfaces became extremely slippery, tracks turned to either muddy slides or ankle deep bogs. Some controls placed on creeks also became tricky to access, as water gushed down the waterfalls.

The persistent misty rain also meant we missed out on the many apparently great views from the high points on the course.

In contrast, the Tasmanian course was mostly open farmland and reasonably open forest. It was a lovely scenic landscape with rolling hills and beautiful coastline.

Fortunately there was some moderately dense scrub in the south-east otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to grumble about the setting. Elevation ranged from 0 to 330m, the weather was mild, and the forecast 10-25mm of rain forecast for the second half didn’t eventuate. There was a rain squall in the hour before dawn (which destroyed the Hash House tents) but after the weekend in New Zealand we hardly noticed it.

Farmland and bush in the Tasmanian Champs (Credit: RTas)

Tristan: How did you place in them?

Toni: As the wisdom goes, if we find the event tough, most likely other teams will as well. We finished the NZRC 11th overall on the same score with two other teams with 1860 (but finishing later than one of them) and 2nd mixed veteran – 70 points behind the winning mixed veteran team. The overall winners Tim Farrant and Tane Cambridge collected a smashing 3100 points – about 75% of the course score.

For the Tassie Champs, while there was a great turn out for the 6 and 15 hour events, only 18 teams did the 24 hour event. People just don’t realise how much better the 24 hour event is! To our surprise, we won overall! It’s the first time we’ve ever done that. Ciara Smart and Ben Armstrong put in a very solid performance to take second place (unfortunately we denied them the open mixed win – sorry guys!) and Gary Carroll and Ken McLean (MSV) took third after a navigation mishap took the wind out of their sails.

Tristan: What blunders did you make (if any) and what would you have done differently?

Smiffy: We had a few issues on the course during the NZ Champs.

The biggest frustration was a control placed in the rainforest, which was meant to be just 80m away from a track. First we had trouble following the vague track that was meant to intersect with the main track. After we found the right track junction, we tried to navigate to the control which was supposed to be placed on a junction of two minor watercourses. We thought we’d identified one of them and tried following it for a couple of hundred meters with no success. After a couple of back and forths we decided to abandon because it was just a 20-pointer. This is always the hardest decision – when do you pull the plug and abandon? We usually mull over these decisions for days. An even bigger disappointment was to later see our GPS track so close to the control – we must have somehow walked right past it twice!

After this experience we made a decision to avoid controls that required cross-country navigation for the dark part of the event and changed our route to some ‘easier’ controls.

There was still plenty of challenge finding knife-edge spurs on hill sides when all we could see was white mist in our torch light.

What we learnt the hard way in those weather conditions was a pair of rain overpants paired with a good quality rain jacket would have made all the difference to our level of comfort.

I got so cold, I didn’t have the motivation to keep pushing and try to do as much as possible right up to the end of the event. And that was the main reason I felt so frustrated after the rogaine.

Our route in the NZ Champs…

The Tassie Champs went quite smoothly.  I find Australian landscapes so much easier to navigate.  Partly because the maps are usually higher resolution (<=1:40,000 & 10m contours) but also because the spurs and gullies are less intricate and often the vegetation provides better visibility. We didn’t make any significant errors on the course – the closest we got was 75 where the spur was difficult to read in the scrub and I thought we’d climbed too high and missed it. Fortunately Toni was confident we should keep going and the control appeared 50m further up (I walked past it – Toni spotted it). Our plan was working well – we dropped a less valuable control here and there to stay on schedule and we were able to make the most of the critical final hours by timing our return to the hash house via a productive route. The last hours of a 24 are always stressful and hectic – trying to avoid serious navigational errors with a mind dulled by exhaustion while trying to pick up those last precious points and finish just before the bell. We often find these last few controls are the difference between a win or not. It’s extremely satisfying to finish just in time knowing you did everything you could.

… and our route in the Tassie Champs

Tristan: Given that, even among rogaining circles, competing in a 24h event and staying out all night is seen as crazy enough, what possessed you to fly out to two of them on consecutive weekends?

Toni: We only found out about the Tas Champs after we’d entered the NZ event. 24-hour rogaines are our favourite format, so we are usually keen to do as many as we can. Still, we decided it would be too much to do both events back to back. We had a pretty rough time in Dunedin. It was the first time I was happy to finish a 24-hour event with 4-5 hours to go. Thanks to Smiffy’s persistence we kept picking up controls but still finished an hour early, even though there were two more controls within reach. I was quite happy to finally warm up with a hot shower and change into dry clothes. Still, our capitulation made the whole experience unusually unsatisfying and was made worse by the fact that we would have won the category if we had pressed for those two controls in that final hour. So on Tuesday we had a look at the airfares to Tassie and entered the Return of the Oysters Rogaine in the hours before entries closed. We were both pretty keen to end the season on a positive note.

Some spectacular coastline in the Tasmanian Champs (Credit: RTas)

Tristan: Why do interstate and overseas rogaines?

Toni: Every time we’ve done a Rogaine outside NSW or ACT I’ve appreciated how lucky we are to have perfect terrain for rogaining right in our backyard – large areas of native bush, often open and pleasant, and mountain landscapes that can challenge our navigational skills while rewarding with spectacular views.

Yet, competing in different conditions and against rogainers from other parts of Australia or the world gives us a chance to get out of our comfort zone, adapt to different conditions and meet the local rogainers and learn from them.

Rogaines in NZ are always challenging – tough and physically demanding and weather is usually a big consideration. Other places might offer easier terrain but then you would be tempted to go further. So there is always something to learn, an experience to remember.

And there are always great people to meet and get to know. Rogainers are always lovely people – you have to be to survive long distance team sports.

Track and scrub in the NZ Champs
(Credit: Matt Bixley, NZ Rogaining Association)

Tristan: How do you feel now?

Toni: Surprisingly we didn’t feel that tired after the NZ Champs. The rough terrain and vegetation forces a slower pace and shorter distance which in turn takes less of a toll on our bodies.

We did pay for it after the Tassie Rogaine with both of us having a slow run at the Wednesday Sydney Summer Series. It all caught up with Smiffy one week later at the Western Sydney Summer Series – he really crashed afterwards and slept the rest of the day

Tristan: Finally, how did New Zealand and Tasmania compare with other 24-hour events you’ve done in 2018, especially our NSW Champs?

Smiffy: It’s interesting to look at our stats for the championship events we did this year:

<> ACT Champs Yarrangobilly: 78km 2942m
<> NavShield Yengo: 59km (no GPS track for this event)
<> Australasian Champs Manumbar, Qld: 99km 2860m
<> NSW Champs Abercrombie: 76km 3802m
<> NZ Champs Dunedin: 69km 3039m
<> Tas Champs Bangor: 89km 3219m

Abercrombie wins for vertical distance! And it was also the most demanding physically – our legs had absolutely no hills left in them at the end.

In Dunedin, where the vertical relief across the course was twice as big, the track network and minimal off-track options made it easier to minimise the ups and downs.

At Abercrombie there were very few controls you could link up without significant up and downs. Next time it would be nice to have a few more controls arranged so that it is worth doing a couple of ridge traverses to provide some relief from the vertical. But in a championship event you definitely can’t complain about it – it’s supposed to be demanding. However, it has prompted me to make a mental note next time I’m setting a course.

Tristan: Thanks for such a great update, Toni & Smiffy.  All the best for 2019!

First timers

Howdy all… my 11yo son and I were thinking of doing our first ever rogaine for a bit of fun and were wondering what the general process is.

I was thinking that the 3hr Minigaine at the end of Feb 2019 would be a good place to start… would you advise that we try and find someone to team up with, or could we just give it a crack by ourselves on the day? We’re both pretty fit, so I’m not super worried about the physical side of things… I’m more just thinking about stuff like logistics and knowing the rules, and so on. Are there “practice” courses that we could do in the meantime so we can get a bit better at navigation? Any advice would be great. Thanks heaps.