Julian Ledger and I lined up for the 6 hour event yesterday. We were not keen for the 12 hour event, having competed in the 24 hour Australian Championship only a fortnight before. The “Karst Irony” event was quite a contrast to the National Championship. In the National Championship we bagged 22 controls in 24 hours, yesterday we bagged 29 controls in under 6 hours. In the National Championship all points were hard won, but in yesterday’s event you could earn good points by visiting sign posted lookouts. My rough calculation tells me that you could get about 800 points just by visiting lookouts. Possibly the most spectacular being control 79 which had a fantastic view of Bungonia Gorge.
The map for yesterday’s events was an interesting one, the course was dominated by massive out of bounds areas due to the karst plateau which was unsafe to rogaine on. The course was further punctuated by deep impassible, cliff lined gorges. So the course really consisted of 6 distinct patches of controls and you picked which area in which you wanted to forage. Two of the six areas, the southern ones, were really out of reach for the 6 hour competitors which left four distinct clusters of controls to choose from. Of these Julian and I decided to avoid going to the northern cluster because the description said that scrambling and a head for heights was needed in that part of the course. Julian and I are both comfortable with scrambling and with heights but the description implied slow progress, so we gambled and skipped that part of the course despite its proximity to the hash house.
What made yesterday’s event fun was the fact that there were many controls available and, if you were a half decent navigator with a modest level of fitness, you could bag a control every 10 – 15 minutes and there was just enough navigational challenge on offer to keep you interested. The only mistake Julian and I made was walking past control 82 and having to double back to get it. That mistake, which I made, cost us 8 minutes (sorry Julian) but the rest of the controls we found with ease. The relative ease of finding controls was also due to the sparseness of the bush and the fact that the controls were set on well defined features.
The other thing that made yesterday’s event fun was that there were no heroic climbs or perilous steep descents. With a sensible amount of contouring between controls there was relatively little elevation change. The biggest climb we did all day was 65 metres between controls 74 and 75, but we didn’t mind this climb because we picked up the three 70 pointers in under 30 minutes.
The only downside of the whole event was that there were few points on offer on the way back to the hash house from the middle section of the course and we scored only 80 points in the last hour.
I will always remember yesterday’s event fondly because, for the first time in 23 years of rogaining, I won my category. Julian and I came first in the men’s veterans category and were awarded a cup for our efforts. The fact that Julian and I won the category probably says more about who didn’t turn up than how good Julian and I were, but I don’t care we won the category and I am proud of it. My cup is going “straight to the pool room” and will never go through the dishwasher. I might fade over time, but I will make sure that this cup doesn’t. Yet another thing the kids can throw out after I die.
Thanks to Ian Almond, President Trev, Ian Cross and others for putting on a really good, fun event in some beautiful country. Even the weather gods smiled on the event.