Do you like it Soft or Hard ?

Judging by our attendance at 12 and 24 hour events I think most Rogainers like it soft. The NSW Organising Committee (of which I am a part) are wondering why relatively few people enter 12 or 24 hour events.

I have a number of theories I would like to share:

Sanity

Only a person with a tenuous hold on sanity would enjoy running around thick bush in the dark with a map and compass. “Normal” people simply do not feel the need to endure that much discomfort or have a competitive urge that will drive them for 24 hours. Yes, in case you were wondering, rogainers are not “normal” people.

Family

I lose a lot of “brownie” points when I disappear into the bush for a weekend with mates. My wife has done a 24 hour event with me, but now we have young kids we can’t both go. All married people with young children will understand that a weekend away leaving your significant other at home with the kids has a price that must be paid.

A suggestion from my fellow Committee Members is to take my family with me. Good idea, but unfortunately my family’s hold on sanity exceeds mine, and I cannot find the words to convince them that wandering around the bush in the dark is fun. To be honest, my son thinks going somewhere without wifi is an unnatural and completely avoidable act.

Work

I don’t know about the elite athletes, but my work on Monday suffers after a 24 hour event. No amount of coffee can replace the 20+ IQ points I sacrifice to fatigue. These days I take the Monday off after an event, but that also has a cost.

Pain

Most people do not like being in pain and it is almost impossible to do a 12 or 24 hour event without suffering some form of pain. I vividly remember ripping my big toe nail off 2 hours into the Garland Valley 24hr and also suffering heat stress around 3 hrs into the Gundy 24 hr. Let’s face it in today’s modern society you can avoid almost any form of pain, but it is very difficult to do a 12 or 24 hour event without suffering some level of pain, either during or after the event.

Risk

Getting home after a 12 or 24 hour event is tricky. If you have been going hard for 24 hours it is risky to drive a motor vehicle and given that often these events are held in remote locations this risk is amplified. Please, please please do not try and drive home straight after a 12 or 24 hour event.

But wait, I am on the Committee and I am supposed to be promoting 12 and 24 hour events on behalf of Organising Committee so here are some reasons why you absolutely must do a 12 or 24 hour Rogaine.

Memories

I am in my 50s now and having led a relatively full life I forget things. I forget people I have worked with, I forget parties, I forget trips away, I forget what possessions I have and I even forget who won My Kitchen Rules, but I remember every 12 and 24 hour rogaining event I have ever done. I remember where the event was, I remember who was with me and I remember which course we took and what navigational blunders we made. I even remember which of my team mates I pushed against the electric fence to see if it was live.

When I am too old to compete, these are the memories I want to re-live, not who won the 2016 My Kitchen Rules competition.

Achievement

I am an average rogainer, but I am proud of my ability to find an orange flag hanging on a tree in a valley which 99.9999% of the population will never visit. I am also proud of my ability to compete for 12 or 24 hours. I enjoy telling my work mates how I spent my weekend when the highlight of their weekend was seeing a movie none of us will remember in a year’s time.

Endorphins

I am not sure about others but there is something to be said about the chemicals that flows through your body for a few days or weeks after a 12 or 24 rogaine. Whatever the source; chemical, psychological or imagination I feel really good for a week or two following a rogaine and all I can think of is the next one.

Teamwork

I have worked in teams for many years both in my work life and also in my sporting life, having played many team sports such as indoor and outdoor cricket, yacht racing, volley ball, touch rugby and others. But you do not really know team work until you have done a 24 hour rogaine. Long rogaines take team work to the next level. You have a truly symbiotic relationship with your partner during the event. You might enter as strangers, but 24 hours later you will know that person well. My only real experience with team work comes from endurance events and not from an hour of sport or from a work conference get together.

Enjoying the Simple Things

A long Rogaine puts your life into perspective and helps you to enjoy the simple things. Simple things like stopping moving, eating something you didn’t carry and a toilet with a seat, all seem like luxury after a long rogaine. Possessions all seem like meaningless encumbrances when you are on a long rogaine.  Very few rogainers drive expensive cars and I think this is why. They value experience over possessions.

Sleep

Do you have trouble sleeping, well I know a sure fire cure, it’s called a 12 or 24 hour rogaine.

Pleasures

There are many pleasures of rogaining, such as finding a difficult control at night while others wander in circles around you or comparing scores with another team to find out you have soundly beaten them. The Australian bush can be hard but is also very beautiful and there is something special about rogaining through the last gasp of light in the evening or in morning’s first light.

Conclusion

In conclusion, my message is simple:

Enter a 12 and or a 24 hour rogaine.

You have not lived until you have added that to your life’s kitbag of experiences.

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4 Responses to Do you like it Soft or Hard ?

  1. Brooke Dormor says:

    Great read, I am forever grateful for being introduced to the sport in my forties!

  2. Ian Dempsey says:

    This is a great piece Chris; thanks for pulling it together. While I’m now 60+ and my body no longer tolerates 12 and 24 hour events, you’re reminded me why I did them for so long.

  3. Oliver Pitman says:

    At the NSW championships, I completed my first 24 hr Rogaine with night navigation. I found it was more difficult navigating at night than had originally thought, even though I had an excellent torch my team only found one control at night. Nevertheless, I learned a lot and enjoyed every part of it.

  4. Mark Vonhuben says:

    24 hours doesn’t have to be hard! 24 hours is the MAXIMUM time on the course – there is no minimum.

    My 4 year old likes 12/24 hour rogaines because he gets a bit of bush walking in the dark trying to spotlight animals with his headtorch (mostly rogainers), and then he can play with other kids around the fire (using some mysterious reserve of energy that can’t be found when walking down a firetrail an hour earlier). It’s also quite nice to have a leisurely stroll back to the hash house while watching the 6 hr competitors running madly after the horn (apologies to those that get asked by my son if they are late!). I like them because they are an easy camping trip (food is provided) and are good family time in the bush. Sometimes we even get another checkpoint the next morning, and one time, we were the only ones to enter the 24 hr family category and so came first!!! Considering it typically doesn’t cost much more than the 6 hour events (often it is the same price I think), there is nothing to lose!

    And to add to Chris’ point about food – a 24 hour rogaine makes a humble sausages taste absolutely amazing!

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