“Never in the field of human competition was so many fences crossed by so few competitors” (Sorry Winston.)
The 2017 Paddy Pallin event was held at Sydney University’s farm “Arthursleigh’ at Big Hill and I was quite looking forward to the event. Normally I prefer complex navigation, mountains and thick forest but I had never rogained in the area and I was prepared and quite looking forward to a day of tromping through farmland.
I can’t write about this event without discussing the fences. I am 187cm (6ft 1.5inches) and have long legs, so I can normally get over fences pretty quickly without risking the wedding tackle. Yesterday however, all the fences were quite high and in good condition so getting over then took skill and a bit of risk. I tried walking up the straining posts, where they existed, but I fell off one and cut my hand on the barbed wire so I shelved that approach. I was chatting with Glenn Horricks after the event (2nd overall with team mate Keelan Birch – great job guys) and he reckons he went under about half of them, which was interesting. I don’t know how many fences team mate Carl and I crossed yesterday but I reckon 40+ would be a good guess and yes my hands look a bit like a pincushion, but at least the wedding tackle and pants survived the experience.
I must admit I do not always read the final instructions for an event, but I was glad I read them for the 2017 Paddy Pallin. The final instructions said “We suggest you carry a leather gardening glove or a piece of rag to help you grip fence posts or wires.”. Fortunately I heeded these instructions and grabbed a pair of my wife’s gardening gloves as we headed out the door (I don’t have any because I hate gardening). These gardening gloves proved to be as important as water, map, compass and legs for the event.
Yesterday’s event was an interesting experience. If there is a spectrum of events from street courses through to thick forest courses then this event sat firmly in the middle. My selected course was all farmland and the event was relatively flat. Yesterday Carl and I did 609 metres vertical which is similar to that of a street course and while navigation was easier than a forest course it was more difficult than a street course and navigating through farmland or sparse forest is much more fun than turning left or right on a street course.
The other thing to note about yesterday’s event is that there were not many people limping at the end. Normally after a bush event people limp from sore muscles from climbing and descending mountains and after a street course competitors limp from the pounding of the bitumen. The only part of me that was sore yesterday was my hands.
Those of you who read my last post will know that Julian Ledger had dropped me as a partner for this event because I am only a Veteran and he is a Super Veteran, so rogaining with me was hurting his category placings. Yesterday Julian teamed up with John Clancy and Anne Newman and thereby managed to enter the Mixed Super Veteran category. Having been jilted by Julian I was pretty keen to beat his team yesterday, something we just managed to do, (with partner Carl on his 2nd rogaine) but only by 10 points. Carl and I got off to a bad start because we could not find control 41 (entirely my fault – silly noob mistake). We also had a bad route choice to start. We should have gone 20-35-60-41 (or 20-35-31-60-41) instead we went 20-35-21-54-Missed 41. This combination of bad route choice and bad navigation put my team 30 points and 16 minutes behind Julian’s after the first hour and we spent the rest of the event trying to catch up. Obviously I didn’t know this at the time, but I knew that not finding control 41 was a mistake that Julian and team would not replicate.
Having said that my focus was beating Julian’s team I am not sure how interested Julian was to try and beat my team since he had other competition to worry about. You see Julian’s children were entered as a team and parental pride was on the line. Fortunately for Julian, he managed to best his children, Luke and Selena (joined by Nick Mealey and Peter Tippett, both on their first rogaine) who came in with 1350 points, 150 less than Julian’s team. Julian’s strategy of chasing Category results also worked, with his team placing 3rd in the Mixed Super Veterans with 1500 points, where as I had to be content with 16th in the Men’s Veterans with my team’s 1510 points.
Thanks to everyone for making yesterday happen. Phil Whitten did a great job on the course setting and congratulations to all the other volunteers for making the event a great day out. Also thanks to the Paddy Pallin organisation for their ongoing support of our sport.