“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.