Avoiding the Lawrence of Arabia country

Congratulations to Steve Ryan course setter, Gill Fowler organiser and Anita Bickle admin, on the excellent Minigaine at Cronulla on Sunday. Exploring an area not so well known to many in very fair conditions was a great pleasure. The beaches, parks and views were all perfect. The dunes probably best avoided for mere mortals. The event was run efficiently and with a good atmosphere most fittingly as it coincided with the end of Gill Fowler’s fabulous five year term as President.
Steve stretched our legs and there was plenty of variety. Route choice was limited in parts but the mid section of the map gave rise to plenty of options none of which stood out as the best. I’ve got a feeling that’s where I lost some time but the good news is that I beat Chris (let’s just get one more check point) Stevenson. And as the old saying goes it is okay to come second last so long as you beat Chris!
The winner, Andrew Hill cleared the course with 2 minutes to spare – he looked good when we crossed paths and course setting doesn’t get any finer than that outcome.

Looking at the results one has to ask do Rogainers do better on their own? Safety considerations aside if longer rogaines allowed solo entry would the lone wolves clean sweep the places as they did in Cronulla? When I started rogaining way back in Western Australia the thought was that three was the ideal team. One to map read, one to pace count at night and the other to help find the controls which tended to be a bit dodgy what with few contours, unreliable maps and no GPS for course setting in those days. On the other hand going solo means no distracting conversations, less chance of forgetting what you are supposed to be doing or partners pulling up with cramp. Left only with your inner voice you can focus on the navigation.

So which is best team or solo? Perhaps a teams versus solos challenge.

Meanwhile I’ve been hobbling around the city today with a sore heel. Is there a remedy or is it just rest is best? So long as it is healed by the Australian Champs on first weekend of May down south of Canberra so that I can keep up with partner Chris (victory or doom) Stevenson and guide him to good route choice.

By the way don’t be shy of the ‘championships’ moniker – all are welcome and it’s a regular rogaine which promises open bushland. On the Monday after to impress workmates and friends you can drop that what you were doing at the weekend was competing in the Australian championships.

Congrats to Trevor Gollan for his election as new President. We could not be in more experienced hands and no doubt the org will do well with the strong committee behind him.

Sand, sun, surf and more bloody sand!

The Minigaine yesterday was an interesting event. As someone who comes to rogaining from a bushwalking rather than a running or orienteering background, I always look towards the minigaines with some trepidation. To do well in a minigaine you have to jog a reasonable portion of the event and being fat and middle aged with a bad back, jogging is not my favourite past time, although my physio likes it because it keeps her in business.

Before I left yesterday I told my Mum, the only one awake in my household, that success could be measured by two things; beating Julian Ledger and doing more than 18klm in three hours. My partner John Clancy and I did 19.7klms in three hours so that was good. The Julian bit I am not discussing because my ptsd has not yet subsided.

I made a deliberate decision to enter yesterday’s event as a team because I recall from previous events the competitiveness of the individuals. (Perhaps that is why they can’t find a friend to be their partner.) To put it in context, the average score of the individuals was 1,390 whereas the average score in the teams was 855. Aside from scoring better, the obvious advantage to having a partner is having someone to blame when things don’t go as planned. Everyone knows I would have come first, if my partner hadn’t been slowing me down.

I love rogaining for the spirit of discovering unnamed creeks and rarely viewed mountain vistas, none of which I was expecting to experience in and around Cronulla. To be honest, I enjoyed yesterday’s event more than I thought I would. The sand dunes on the northern edge of the course were a surprise. I felt like I was in the Sahara for about an hour of yesterday’s event. I was half expecting a camel to appear over the horizon at any moment.

The sand was effective in slowing down the runners and thereby levelling the playing field, but the downside was that I ended up with so much sand in my shoes that I had to stop and clean it out. While I emptied my shoes I was too impatient to empty my socks and completed the event with both socks full of sand. The result of this was that my sand filled sock ended up bruising my big toe and I will probably loose the nail, again. Typically rogainers toe nails are not pretty sights and mine are no exception. No amount of nail polish can beautify my feet, but fortunately I am male so I rarely wear open toed shoes in any case.

The other thing to note about yesterday’s event is that a good score was to be had without going to the northern section of the course. In fact, the person who caused my ptsd probably beat me by not going any further north than control 86. At my level of ability, I pretty much had to decide to go south or go north and I decided to go north to all those juicy 100 pointers, but in hindsight that was probably a mistake. At my speed, sticking to the burbs may have been more productive.

At the end of the day, my nemesis got 1270, which placed 10th in the individual men’s super veterans. My 1210 got me a third in the men’s veterans teams. So it pays to have friends.

Thanks to everyone for yesterday. I had a really good time and I will reflect fondly on the event once my ptsd subsides.

P.S. My partner for the Aust Champs is Julian. You know what they say, if you can’t beat them join them.