My Personal Pitch for the 24

Why You Should Do 24-hour Rogaines … by Tristan White

Rogaining in its most so-called “traditional” form exists as a 24hr event, stretching from midday Saturday to midday Sunday. Yet statistically from the past few years, our annual 24h event has significantly lower attendance than all of our other shorter events, and of these attendees, a large portion will compete in the 8hr event held in conjunction with it. It seems that rogaining in its “pure” form has been won out by several other factors:

  • Time: Unlike a 6hr event that can normally be crammed into a day trip (depending on location), a 24h rogaine at the very least requires the entirety of the weekend, and often part of the Friday and/or the Monday. For those with family commitments and inflexible jobs, this can become a major challenge.
  • Cost: The entry cost of a 24hr rogaine in comparison to a 6 or a 12 is often not significantly greater, however unlike a 6hr event which one can put on some lightweight clothes and a take a bit of food and water, a 24hr rogaine requires more specialist gear such as camping equipment, a decent headtorch, a big enough backpack, gaiters, shoes and socks and lightweight warm/waterproof clothing. If one doesn’t have any of the gear, it is a big investment for your first event. The cost of fuel to the event can also be significant.
  • Inexperience: Whilst a complete novice will generally get away with locating flags on or near a track, at least some of the time, being an inexperienced navigator in the dark in the middle of the bush is unforgiving and hence requires some level of inherent skill to have a chance of success.
  • The Sanity Factor: Why would anyone want to wander around the bush for 24 hours in the absolute middle of nowhere anyway? (It’s a question that I’ll invariably ask myself at some point during the night of a 24hr event.)

 

But as significant as these factors are, I am the NSWRA publicity officer and it is my job to convince you that you must try a 24hr rogaine. With the Abercrombie NSW Champs coming up, 24hr rogaines are on our minds and we want you to join us at the latter! So here’s a list of reasons why you couldn’t possibly miss out on doing a 24hr rogaine.

Experience

Although I’m (coincidentally) only 24, it is safe to say that I’ve had a huge variety of experiences in my life so far, and hope that many more will follow, but inevitably I forget things. I forget assignments I’ve done at school and university; I forget what people look like; I forget projects I’ve been involved with at work, and I forget who was the most recent political leader to be dragged out by their own party.  I even forget which girls I’ve crushed on and how I’ve failed to win them (no, it’s not by taking them on a rogaine!), but I remember every 24 hour rogaine I’ve done in my life. I remember which event it was, which poor sod(s) I was with, I remember the route we took and the blunders we made, and I remember what our result was. I even remember how long it was before said poor sod would talk to me after the event.

When I look back at my life in 50 years time, these are things I want to remember doing.

Perspective

Irrespective of how a team ultimately places in the general classification at the end of the event, a 24hr rogaine will force participants to push themselves to do things they wouldn’t normally do. Whether it be to stay up long after they otherwise would (and should) have gone to sleep, to keep moving until the hours blend into each other, or to maintain concentration following a bearing or a subtle spur for 2km in the dark, a 24hr rogaine tests the limits of all competitors. Every time I have just completed a 24hr rogaine, the thought of getting through an 8hr day at work or study seems that much easier.

Novelty

Saying that you spend your spare time walking around in the bush at 2am looking for little flags is a pretty cool (albeit somewhat weird) thing to drop into a first date, an ice breaker activity or a job interview.*

(*) Really.  At a recent interview, the manager saw the sport listed on my resume.

 

I’m interested in your comments – other arguments for or against the longer rogaines…

2018 Lake Macquarie – Photos from an injured competitor

On Saturday Renae Martin (M &D – Team 61) had the misfortune to break her leg near Control 73.  This is the bad news.

The good news is that Renae is alive, well and recuperating. The other good news is that Renae broke here leg near control 73, shortly after the event started, where help was reasonably easily and quickly obtained.  

Aside from the photos (below) Renae shared the following with us

“I was briefly in the rogaine on Saturday but broke my ankle at control 73. I just wanted to pass on my thanks to the teams that stopped and helped. I didn’t get any names or numbers, but they were amazing. I ended up breaking my ankle in three places and dislocated it. (Trimalleolar fracture)
I had surgery on Sunday to put in plates and pins. 

Thanks also to Ian and others of SES getting me back to camp and calling the ambulance. 

I am so grateful for the help and humour on the day so would appreciate it if you could pass on my thanks. “

Renae, still in good humour.
Nobody seems too stressed in this photo
After
You do do not need a degree in radiology to tell things are not right here.
After – Looks painful.

I am sure the whole rogaining family wishes Renae a speedy and painless recovery and we look forward to seeing her on another rogaine very soon.

 

 

My Wrap of the 2018 Paddy Pallin

I really enjoyed the 2018 Paddy Pallin event at Kitchener. I had not rogained in the area before, but I look forward to competing there again if the opportunity arises.
The course was interesting because it was large and very well mapped. The map included detail from three Newcastle Orienteering Clubs’ maps and it showed. There was a lot of detail built into the 1:25000 scale. In many respects it was a orienteerer’s course because you needed to constantly check the fine detail on the map to score well.

My team mates and I had a pretty good rogaine. We really only made two errors that cost us more than a minute or so. The first mistake was mine and it was a bit embarrassing. We were looking for control 76 “The Bridge – East side of tunnel”. Because we were looking for a bridge I switched off mentally, because how could anyone walk over a bridge and not notice. Team mate Julian suggested we had just crossed “the bridge” and I ignored him, but I had to eat humble pie about a minute later when I saw a side trail which told me that Julian was right (again). In fairness it wasn’t much of a bridge, it was just a pipe with dirt over it, but this was one of those courses where you just cannot afford to switch off.

The landscape was interesting. There had been mining in the area up until the 60’s and there were many remnants of mining works. There were also many tracks, most of them seemed to be kept open by trail bikes. The course also resembled a bit of a used car cemetery as there were many very old abandoned cars on the course. There were also a lot of controls on the course and they were not so far apart which kept us constantly scanning the map.

The vegetation was almost perfect for rogaining. Much of it was open forest and the thick stuff was marked with the accuracy of an orienteering map. The ground was easy underfoot and notably neither my team mates or I fell over during the event, which is a bit unusual. The weather was also perfect for rogaining it was a cool 15C which is perfect going hard and avoiding heat stress.

Team mate Julian camped at the Kitchener public school on Saturday night while John Clancy and I spent a very civilised night in a motel in Aberdare. I do not mind camping, but with 4C forecasted and lots of motels near by, it was an easy decision. We also got to watch France down Australia in the World Cup in our motel room. We even let Julian watch since his 30+ year old tent did not include a television. In fact the arrangement was perfect, Julian picked up the maps first thing in the morning, and then drove to our motel room to pick us up. We then spent a pleasant hour course planning in McDonalds at Cessnock. My theory is that Julian likes camping just so he can show off his very old tent with dual chimneys. To be fair it is the only tent I know that has dual chimneys, it is also Australian made (Wilderness Equipment), but takes about two days to erect and it’s time he bought himself a new one, without the bloody chimneys.

Julian about two hours into his tent erection, with his chimneys on proud display.

The day was also notable because the event included many competitors who are legends of our sport. At the end of the event, Peter Tuft, one of the founders of rogaining in NSW spoke about the 2019 Australian Champs which he is organising in Tasmania (book your holiday now).  Another one of the founders of our sport, Bert van Netten, competed and he and his partner, Ted Woodley, beat my team. Not only did they score 190 points more than we did, they also walked about 2 kms less. We will get them next time. Another founder of our sport, Ian Dempsey, vetted the course.

Historically rogaine maps were off the shelf maps (the Navshield event still is) with red circles drawn on freehand. The 2018 PP rogaine has set a new standard in terms of mapping detail and accuracy for a 1:25000 map. Is this the natural evolution of our sport or are we in danger of going overboard? Certainly this event set a mapping standard that can only be maintained with the aid of orienteering base maps. Having said that, the fine detail was appreciated when trying to find controls in a complex jigsaw of eroded gulleys.

Chris Relaxing

Overall, we had a really enjoyable event and we hope everyone else did as well. Sam Howe did a great job with the course. There was a heap of route choice and teams spread out nicely across the course. Bob Gilbert did a great job coordinating the event and acting as MC at the presentation. Bob and the Newcastle team are very active supporters of rogaining and their work is greatly appreciated.  Also a big thank you to the Paddy Pallin organisation for their ongoing support of our sport.

The only thing that could have made the day better would have been beating Ted and Bert, but we will have to wait to the next event to do that.

My Wrap of the Navigation Workshop at Rydal

Gertrude and Wind

The navigation workshop was just great fun. Many newbies and some experienced rogainers learned how to improve their skill of bush navigation from some of our sport’s pros. For my part I was one of the coaches and despite 24 years of rogaining I also learned a few things from the sport’s real pros.

My wife, Dianne, and good friend John Clancy volunteered to do the catering and we arrived late on Friday night and started unloading food from the car into the kitchen at the Rydal Showground. As soon as the kitchen door was opened, in popped Gertrude, the campground’s pet sheep. Apparently no one told Gertrude that we had hired the Campground for the weekend, because according to Gertrude if the kitchen door is open it was her right to be in there. We must have ejected Gertrude from the kitchen about a dozen times. Gertrude was also trying to make friends with our dog Maple. Maple is a cavoodle and about 1/20th the size of Gertrude and was quite wary of this huge woolly thing that was trying to make friends.

Gertrude checking out the intruders in her kitchen.

We eventually unloaded all of our food and ejected Gertrude one more time and went to bed. The next exciting thing that happened was that a huge wind followed by a brief rain storm thundered across the campground. Thankfully, Di, Sophie, my 11 year old daughter, and I had decided to camp inside the hall and were not out in the wind storm in a tent. I am sure those who stayed in a tent on Friday night were very concerned about being blown to Mudgee while still in their tent. The wind raged all night and I am sure those in a tent probably got little sleep.

Saturday

Saturday morning broke and the 50+ participants and 15 coaches arrived at the Campground and coaches and teams were matched up. The first exercise was held east of the showground in a mix of natural bush and pine forest. After a brief chat about compasses and navigation basics we set off hunting for controls. The path to the first control we selected was made unusually difficult by a mess of fallen pine trees in the gully. I have been rogaining at Rydal several times and it is lovely open forest which is almost perfect for rogaining but navigating this mess of fallen pine trees was not what I had planned for the day. It seems I should not have worried since once we had bagged the first control we moved away from pine tree hell and into some lovely open forest.

Joel Mackay showing what he carries in his pack for a 24 hour rogaine.

My team of coachees were very fast learners and after the first couple of controls they were taking compass bearings and heading off into the wilderness like seasoned pros. After a couple of hours of this we returned to the hash house to be lectured by a couple of our sport’s elite athletes. Gill Fowler spoke on the theory and practice of navigation and Joel Mackay spoke about what food and equipment to take on a rogaine.

I am sure everyone found these talks fascinating. I was reminded by Gill about “aiming off”. This is something I plan to put in practice in future rogaines. I was also fascinated by Joel’s talk and on what to eat and what to carry. Until Joel’s talk I was a keen advocate of carrying sports drink in my hydration bladder. Having learned that it probably makes no difference, I will, in future, be content just carrying water.

Read more about aiming off here…

Night Navigation and Nine Nightmares

After Joel’s talk the participants were all invited to measure their stride length in preparation for a night navigation exercise and after dinner we set off. Navigating at night time can be quite daunting for newbies, so I was keen to make the experience a good one.

We found the first control with relative ease and heading towards control number “9”. When arrived at where I thought control 9 should have been, we found other teams but no control. My team had navigated straight for the control so we had to eliminate the possibility of it being further up or down the gully. Once we had eliminated both of these possibilities, I doubted my own navigation skills and we headed to the next gully to check if we had pulled up short. I was thinking “Great coach I am, I cannot find a control only 300 metres from the last one in a reasonably well defined gully”.

We still didn’t find the control and at this stage, I knew it was my mistake and we headed for a known feature, a fire trail and track junction, to try again. This time I was making sure that our bearing and pace counting was perfect and a few minutes later we arrived at the exact same spot with no control in sight. By this stage I had to face up to the fact that I was rubbish at night navigation or the flag was not where it should be. There were other teams about, so I left my team standing in the dark while I sought out the other coaches to ask them if they had found the control. Having spoken to Ted Woodley and Joel Mackay both of whom could also not find the control we determined that the control was indeed not where it should be and we headed off to try a different control.

In hindsight, this was probably a really good lesson in what to do when you cannot find a control and it even occurred to me that perhaps this was some sort of sadistic test Gill had set for us. The reality was a little more mundane because the control has simply been hung in the wrong gully. I was very pleased by my team’s quick learning and after the fiasco with control number 9 they quickly found a couple of difficult controls in the pitch black and everyone’s confidence, including mine, was restored.

My Scary Experience

I am not often scared rogaining at night, but this night proved to be an exception. When we got near one of the controls I thought I could see movement behind one of the trees. Normally, I would just pass this off as an animal, but the movement was human height and seemed to be staying behind the tree. I am over 6 foot tall, male and almost 100kg, so I am not usually the timid type, but having someone watching you from behind a tree late at night, in the middle of the bush, has got to ring some alarm bells. I was wondering whether Ivan Milat had been let out early, when all of a sudden Mike Hotchkis popped out from behind the tree and scared several precious years from my remaining life.

It seems that Mike had set his team the task of finding this particular control unaided and was going to surprise them when they eventually found the control. Mike is a fine athlete and an outstanding rogainer. In real life Mike is lovely and not a very scary person at all, but what would you think when someone is clearly hiding and watching you from behind a tree, in the forest, in the pitch black?

Falnash Forest

The next morning we headed out for another practice session in Falnash Forest near Wallerawang. I hadn’t been walking in Falnash Forest before and it was a really lovely experience. It is a gently undulating, open forest, perfect for rogaining.

My team were now behaving like rogaining pros and we bagged control after control with no navigational missteps. I was quite proud of my coachees when they found a control on a poorly defined broad ridge about 400m away from the nearest well defined point.

Here is our well deserved selfie having bagged a difficult control

After Falnash Forest we headed back for lunch and a three hour minigaine starting from the hash house. We were all tired by this stage and we were more interested in navigation than point scoring for this event. Our navigation for this event was good but we were let down by our route choice and ended up getting only 60 points and then lost 30 of these by being 3 minutes late back. At the end of the day the point of the weekend was learning navigation and I sensed that my team were now pretty confident of their abilities.

Capable People

Rogainers, as a general rule, are capable and intelligent people and I am continually impressed by their willingness to help and to solve problems. A lot of people put a lot of time and effort into a weekend like this to make it a success and we come to expect this but I am still continually surprised by how people just pitch in and get the job done. Some examples were:
• Andrew Duerden, who had also volunteered as coach, listened to me ranting about how much I hate barbequing at close to midnight and volunteered to get up a 5:30am to take the task off my hands. Andrew cooked bacon and eggs for 70 people with a great deal of skill and good humour.
• Ronnie Taib, also there as a coach, spent every spare moment he had washing up and otherwise helping in the kitchen.
• I also must acknowledge the efforts of my wife, Di, and good friend John Clancy who spent the whole weekend doing nothing but feeding 70 hungry rogainers. The food was fabulous and more closely resembled a restaurant than a rogaine.
• Mike Hotchkis, Toni, Smiffy and Phil Titterton who, after a long and tiring weekend of walking, happily disappeared into the bush, once more, to pick up controls by themselves for a few hours.
• Thanks also to Richard Sage for bringing the catering trailer to the event. Not only did he have to drive across the mountains towing a heavy trailer, which is an unpleasant task, but towing the trailer means that he has to be one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave.
• I don’t know all the names of the people that helped. Some women I had didn’t recognise cut veggies for 70 with the speed and skill of a Michelin chef. Gary Roberts was also a regular presence in the kitchen doing what he could, including the unpleasant task of taking home bags of rubbish for disposal.

Ronnie, Gary and Andrew helping out in the kitchen

• I also need to acknowledge the 15 coaches who willingly gave up their weekend to share their skills with others.
• The final thanks must go to Gill. Without Gill’s efforts the event simply would not have taken place

I am continually impressed by the generosity and capability of the rogaining community.

Outcomes from our 2017 Survey

We were most pleased with the number of people who participated in our survey over the summer. Thanks again to all who took the time and effort.  Further comments are always welcome – that’s what this Forum is for…

Tristan White, our Publicity Officer, collated the results and produced the following summary.

NSWRA 2017 Strategic & Planning Survey

We have received 75 responses from our 9-question survey which showed some trends though a lot of variation, which reflects the vast array of people who have competed in the sport.

1. Favourite Events

Analysis

The noted favourite events varied across the board so won’t go into detail describing them. Several noted the ARC as a great event (I concur), and most that flag the 24h events note them to be very memorable, the defining feature of a traditional rogaine in my opinion. Many also flagged the “Karst Irony” event as great in light of the numerous views that rarely exist in our off-track events.

Limitations

This only considered events from the past calendar year, and was limited to the events that respondents entered (which averaged at 2), so doesn’t give a great judgment deciding which events were best. (btw SC=State Champs)

2. Bad Experiences

Analysis

Of 76 respondents, only 12 claimed to have had some form of negative experiences (dismissing two complaints about ACT events) so I don’t think that’s too bad a record. But it’s worth noting down what these were, and my thoughts to them:

  • As it was our first event, very little connection with the organisers, (ie welcome new participants). Also, so many people (teams) got multiple awards… why? Enter one event and spread the love. We finished in the top 3 in the novice section, but our award was not announced, so we had to follow-up and about 3 months later we had to go and collect our “mugs”, no attempt to get them to us. A poor experience for newbies.

This is disappointing to read that a newcomer feels that way. It’s a pity they did not specify which event. Obviously it’s a reminder that we need to continue to ensure to provide instruction, welcome and inclusion to all newcomers to the sport. This should be reminded to long timers such as ourselves to greet visitors rather than stick in our “rogaine bubbles.” That said, I think it’s usually done well.

  • Insufficient food. Three people mentioned this and from looking at the events they entered they were all referring to the Cronulla minigaine where I remember the watermelon disappearing as abruptly as Harold Holt. People do notice food quality/quantity and we need to ensure it remains high.
  • “Some rogaines are too long.”

#suckitupprincess That’s the nature of the sport.

  • All rogaines were good although some were a bit far away – it would be good to take that into consideration when planning timing for event. Events that are 1hr + drive from the city would be better on Saturdays with a camping option that night.

It is New South Wales Rogaining Association, not Newcastle, Sydney & Wollongong Rogaining association and the open areas that can be freely accessed are often a while away. I’m assuming that they were referring to PP and something of that distance should have a camping option (though personally think that Saturday arrival/campout works fine.

  • Good camping spots are always a challenge – but I know you guys are limited as to what can be arranged.
  • The Lake Macquarie Rogaine encouraged kids to come along but I found that the easier course was still a bit too hard and checkpoints where a long distance between each other. Good for adults but a bit too hard for younger kids that are too big to carry.

Important to be realistic about what events can have young children. The fact that the Metrogaine, Minigaine, Paddy Pallin and Socialgaine usually are should be an asset, even if others can’t.

  • No bad experiences!! But some rogaines I do wish there was another water drop or two (on the long events). I do understand that’s part of route strategy/choice though.

Usually this is done well IMO though I have similar observations. In principle, a refill every 4-5hrs would be good (longer apart at night), meaning we’d want 2 in a 12h and at least 4 in a 24

  • Nothing that I particularly recall, although I don’t believe that rogaines where it is necessary to regularly/constantly fight the vegetation adds anything to the experience. If anything, my guess is that those types of experiences put people off doing bush / off-track rogaines.

That’s true and it can be an issue in the LM. We’ve tried to avoid this and we need to continue to ensure that a navigational challenge doesn’t become a fight against lawyer vine and the like

  • Rogaine near Goulburn-Marulan on University Station was good but didn’t like the checkpoints being out in the open. Getting accommodation nearby the night before wasn’t easy. Don’t like the checkpoints being in open paddocks where everyone can see so there is no map reading skill needed

Not having done the event I can’t judge but it’s a fair criticism.

  • There was no camping at the Paddy Pallin Rogaine

This seems to be a sore spot – 4 of our 12 criticisms mentioned it.

  • The heat on the socialgaine was a struggle – much more exposed than last years more bush focussed event. But calling it a “bad” experience is a bit of a stretch.

As someone who has a personal animus against the heat I wholeheartedly agree. With these events (SG and the MG) taking in the heat of the day from 9-3 on the fringes of summer is not a good idea.

  • No, the rogaining itself is always good between all 3 associations. The entry fees between each association varies significantly though and this year became a contributing factor for me in terms of which events I went to or whether I even did them at all, eg: NSWRA charged the same price for the 6 hr as the 12hr and same again with the 8hr being charged the same as the 24hr. $100 for an 8 hr event was a massive turnoff. VRA charged $45 for their 24hr event compared to $100 by NSWRA.

We generally aim to minimize the cost, but it does seem to vary from event to event. Perhaps we should standardize these across the year? $100 for an 8h event is excessive, but I also recognize that providing for a 6/12h entrant is usually the same wrt catering, equipment use, HH access etc.

  • I really don’t like when setters set with loops in mind, or use roads and tracks to ease their job. As a setter I know it’s tempting but as a competitor I think it kills the sport. Unmarked thick scrub near controls (Mt Werong NE corner) or too much elevation just for the sake of difficulty doesn’t appeal to me. Same with too many tracks. In that sense, the ACT champs was a bit of nightmare since it had both (walking along the beach at night was magical, though).

A matter of preference IMO. But for sanctioned bush events, focus should be made to ensure competitors access the CPs through good navigation rather than speed, whether it be following spurs and gullies, or pacing along a track to an attack point for the CP 100m away (out of sight), particularly where the scrub is thicker. Some people (myself included) like climbing. Not sure what they mean by “loops” – whether they mean one big course route or small obvious loops within a bigger course.

  • The LM course could have been designed better – having the winners clear the course with an hour to spare indicates it should be longer. And the fact that top two teams did exactly the same route (albeit in the opposite direction) indicates that there should have been greater effort to remove obvious route choices. I found the SG too hot and dull – the warm conditions were exacerbated by the sun shining off the bitumen (which 75% of the course was on). It too closely resembled an orienteering event, where I believe a SG should be 75% bush with a few streets to link it up.

Limitations

Only takes the concerns from a sample of the competitors (who actually completed the survey). Presumably, those with extremely negative experiences would be unlikely to be in the FB group, to read the website or newsletters.

3. Reasons for absence

Analysis

The single most cited answer was that our events clashed with other activities, with only a few noting that they are too expensive (and none that said they didn’t enjoy it at all!) and that they only enjoy certain types of events. Clashes will be a reality, and there isn’t any way around it, but we can make an effort not to put them the same time as other notable events (C2S, adventure races and other ARA events), as well as days such as Mother’s/Father’s Day.

It’s hard to read the graph; here’s the categories:

  • I did them all
  • Clash with other activities
  • Events too far away
  • Too expensive
  • Don’t enjoy other types (of rogaines)
  • Too much toll on my body
  • Can’t find team mates
  • Let me be frank, …
  • Other

Limitations

Those who are more frequently unable to make the events are less likely to have done the survey (and more likely to not enjoy the sport at all, or find it too expensive for what they get out of it)

4. Preferred Type of Event

Analysis

As expected there’s a wide variety of preferences for type of event, though an obvious number flagged 6-8h off track events, and more people than not preferenced off-track events – rogaining in its most traditional form!

It’s hard to read the graph; here’s the categories:

  • 3-4hr urban
  • 6-8hr urban
  • 6-8hr bush (on track)
  • 6-8hr bush (off track)
  • 12hr bush (on track)
  • 12hr bush (off track)
  • 24hr bush (off track)
  • Other

“Other” preferences or notes included:

  1. Events between 12 & 24h, including 15 in 24
  2. 3-4hr bush events
  3. Urban event must have a significant bushland component.
  4. Night only event
  5. Options to do on or off track depending on whether kids have had enough bush bashing

5. Additional events

Analysis

Over three quarters of respondents would try to attend additional events (which doesn’t mean they will in reality).

6. Event Variants

Analysis

Three quarters of respondents would be happy to see a variant of some form enter the calendar, with the primary suggestions being more novelty events, and a cyclegaine, the way ACTRA and VRA have. Over a third of respondents would also be keen to see an adventuregaine.

It’s hard to read the graph; here’s the categories:

  • Cyclegaine
  • Paddlegaine
  • Adventure race
  • Novelty style
  • No
  • Other

 

Other suggestions/comments included:

  1. Snowgaine
  2. I like all these ideas. Although I would ensure the core nav discipline is retained.
  3. Cyclegaine would need to be on road or track (not bush tracks that are single track)
  4. Would like to see nav skills workshops. Good news for you!
  5. Other companies offer these things. Stick to high quality bush rogaines (this is true in some cases and we should check this each time a variant is held.)
  6. They all sound good BUT, NOT at the expense of the usual program of events
  7. Climbgaines! (How would that work?)
  8. Teams event? Something like the 16hr in 24hr, but with 2 teams. Say a max/min split on team time of 10hr/6hr etc. I like the idea of including puzzles/problem solving to “flatten” the fitness advantage – test run at an urban event? (Don’t really understand this.)
  9. Family or kid friendly events… I plan on doing many (but not all) of my future rogaines with my kids and they love it. It would be great to make the events more kid friendly… or even just add awards for kids who reach certain milestones.

7. Volunteering

“I don’t have time” is the most common response, or “I don’t compete in enough to justify,” and with the average respondent entering 2/year that’s understandable.

It’s hard to read the graph; here’s the categories:

  • I already volunteer
  • I don’t compete in enough rogaines
  • I don’t have time
  • I can’t find a role that suits
  • I volunteer to other sports

A selection of the comments includes:

  1. Not sure how if it’s possible, but if I could volunteer for a couple of hours only I would be more available for volunteering. I do so few events, because of clashes with family commitments. However, the commitments often just make me unavailable from the entire Rogaine. I could still help out for a few hours. The only other problem is the long distance to travel.
  2. Provide more information about specific jobs and their expected time frame especially jobs with the least amount of time commitment. I’d really like to help more and have collected CPs after races but when travelling significant distances to get to events and with family commitments it helps to understand what you may be signing up for as a volunteer. Jobs that are able to be done by participants in the event would be great.
  3. Offer a more formalised or written guide to volunteers. Past volunteer experience felt like left on our own to sort out what and how to do it, and cop any flack if it’s not what was expected.
  4. If I was aware of small ways I could volunteer then I think I would. (There’s a good chance this is written someone where and I just haven’t seen it!)
  5. Describe some of the roles that are needed and whether they conflict with competing in that Rogaine
  6. Maybe a discount on other events (Yes, well this is done, but perhaps we could consider a discounted entry if they don’t qualify for a free entry.)
  7. Volunteer social nights to get to know the other people we’ll be working with (Volunteer weekend away?)

8. Other Suggestions

The “other suggestions” section, predictably, had a whole range of ideas, including the following. It was encouraging to see many suggestions that we are already doing, such as nav workshop, and planning to do.

  1. Better promotion, both online & in print – seems to be a hotspot, 10 people said this.
  2. Consider a way to respond to the increased spate of extreme heat which could be present in November/February.
  3. Cheaper Entries
  4. The photos of people having fun at the events are great. Especially including people of all ages and abilities to show how inclusive it is
  5. Wish you would offer solo entries for 6-hr events.
  6. Perhaps offer a 2 hour beginners course, where an experienced rogainer could take a group out for a couple hours and teach the skills of rogaining (Nav Workshop)
  7. Cross-pollinate with adventure racing / trail running people and maybe consider a ‘multisport’ weekend with some of these groups
  8. It would be great to have more details earlier – including the cost
  9. Love the improvements you are making. Continue to promote bring your own cups, plates etc to be environmentally aware – don’t provide plastic plates!
  10. Consider changing the sports name. Most people think it is a hair growth product. (Sorry guys, we didn’t name it, maybe have a word with the founders)
  11. About 3 hours, solo entry, in a natural environment, would be perfect for me personally…. (Bring on the Scheyville Minigaine!)
  12. Do more intro to newbies, and support. I find the experienced people chat and give each other advice on ways to select routes, and things like that, where newbies get ignored, and have to fend for themselves. (Same in Orienteering circles too). Tips for becoming better, (route choices, distance expectations, etc). 1 x 3 hr Minigaine every 6-8 weeks would be great. As mentioned. Why should a team be 2nd in 1 division and 1st in other… maybe too many divisions. Why not a handicap system, as well, so fairer to all competitors, like golf. Scratch and net scores if you know what I mean. More refreshments at the end for those who return late. I probably have more, but can only think of these now. Good luck and thanks for letting us provide feedback.
  13. I think you focus too much on serious competitors. Outsiders and people in it for fun can find it hard to work out what the events might be like.
  14. It would be nice to have a saved profile for a team or for individuals. We always enter the same team and it is pretty tedious having to type in all the details every time.

Strategic Plan – What’s Wrong with Rogaining

What’s wrong with Rogaining? I reckon there is nothing wrong with rogaining. I love the sport and I have been happily competing for 23 years now and I am looking forward to giving the Super Veterans a run for their money when I qualify next year. So I am probably the wrong person to answer this question.

Consider the following graph:

Rogainers Attending Multiple Events
This graph tells us that about half of all rogainers only ever attend 1 event and few rogainers ever compete in more than 4 events.

Why do few rogainers ever attend more than 4 events? I do not know.

What I do know is that while rogaining participation rates have been growing gradually, participation in other adventure sports have been growing exponentially.
What I also know is that most rogainers prefer the shorter events.

This year’s NSW Champs was a fabulous event but only 81 people took the field for the 24 hour Championship event and numbers for the NSW Champs have historically been well less than half the number that attend the Paddy Pallin event each year.

I am on the NSW Rogaining Committee and contributed to the Strategic Plan, so I think this Strategic Plan embraces a series of strategies that we need to put into place to improve the participation rates in our sport, but I would love to hear from those with other ideas. I would also love to hear from those who think these are the right set of strategies to improve participation rates in our sport.

Rogaining’s Social Structure

I do not remember much about studying ancient history at school but I do remember the class structure of Ancient Greek society and the “Pentacosiomedimni” whose wealth can be defined as being greater than 500 bags of wheat. Like Ancient Greek society rogaining has its own class structure, of which I have been a student for more than 20 years. For those of you who have noticed the different classes but have been unable to put you finger on the differences, or have confused them for competition categories, read on and I will de-mystify them.

The Carefree
The lowest class in rogaining society is the carefree. You can tell The Carefree because they are actually enjoying themselves. They do not care much for the point score, they are out for a day’s walk enjoying the weather and the scenery. You can tell The Carefree because they score about 1/10th of the winner’s score and are smiling before, during and after the event. They are sometimes accompanied by children and often camp at the events, enjoying the conversation around the campfire as much as scoring points. The Carefree use the whole event as a excuse to go camping with the bunch of others. The Carefree might be regular participants at events, however are quite content to leave mid event if the timetable does not suit them. They do not wear gaiters since they are not required. The Carefree are not interested in climbing the rogaining social ladder and can be described at “earthy” or “spiritual” people. They will stop mid rogaine and have a three course lunch.

The Casual
The Casual rogainer can be easily differentiated from The Carefree because they care about their point score but not enough to improve their rogaining. The Casual rogainers will attend at most two events a year and only then if they are held in convenient or attractive locations. These people enjoy rogaines but would not really call themselves rogainers or list it as one of their past times on their cv. The Paddy Pallin events attract a lot of casual rogainers. Casual rogainers will compete to the finish of the event but probably not stay for the awards. They might or might not check their score on the web site over the next few days. Casual rogainers will take a full meal for lunch and stop and eat it. They also take regular stops throughout the event.

The Competent
The Competent are the back bone of rogaining. They know how to use their compass but prefer straight lines to contouring on the course. Typically the competent will attend 10-15 rogaines over their lifetime and score somewhere between half and 2/3 of the winner’s score. The Competent do not run and do not do night rogaines since both of these activities seem pointless or too hard. The Competent will stop briefly for lunch or dinner during the event.

The Committed
The Committed list rogaining as one of their hobbies on their cv. Typically they go to 4 or more events each year and will do more than 20 events in their life time. The committed probably train for rogaines and can be seen studying their rogaining map for days after the event. The Committed do not throw out their rogaining maps and keep them forever and sometimes break them out to show friends. The committed usually score around 2/3 of the winners’ score and one day hope to make the podium. The Committed will only rogaine with someone of similar ability since they do not want to be slowed by a less capable partner, no matter how good looking they are.

The Committed are jealous of The Crazys and want to join their ranks but either their body fails them or they have job or family commitments which prevent them from doing 10 hours of bush running each week. The Committed may be seen running part of an event but do not have the legs to run for more an hour or so. The Committed love night navigation because it gets them closer to The Crazys who can not run as quickly in the dark. The Committed hate to stop during an event and will only do so for a nature break or a food stop if they are forced to.

The Crazy
The Crazy are easy to recognise, they are the ones on the podium. They are the ones that actually win events. The Crazies do not attend events unless they have a free weekend between climbing Mt Everest naked or swimming the Nile with lead weights around their arms and legs. I first identified The Crazy as a class of rogainers during the 1995 Australian Champs. The event started at midday and it bucketed down rain for seven hours. One of my team was suffering hypothermia and we had all had a gut full when we gave it away about midnight. I remember sticking my head out of my tent about 2am and I saw a team jogging on it way to the next control. At this point I realised the existence of The Crazy class of rogainers. The Crazys are the ones who run for the entire event and measure their distance covered to the nearest 10 kms. The Crazys do not eat anything other than gel and protein bars during an event. It is easy to identify The Crazys at an event they are the ones dressed in running gear at the start of an event.

Rogaining’s Class Structure

Rogaining Classes and their Cars
Understanding the social structure of rogaining can give you valuable insights into the people and their preferences. Look around the car park at an event, for example, and you will be able to identify from which class the owner belongs. For example if you spy a Prius, A Hyundai or a Kia it probably belongs to one the The Carefree, who do not want to work too hard and are not out to impress, other than with their green credentials.

If you see a luxury European car it is likely to be driven a member of The Casual class of rogainers. More experienced rogainers would not risk bring a nice car along the roads lead to a rogaine. One of The Competent class would probably drive a sensible family car, possibly a four wheel drive but one that you would be happy to take to golf or church. The Competent may well have a nice European car in the garage at home but would not risk bringing it to the event.

The Committed will usually drive a serious four wheel drive car to the event. They spend a lot of time in the bush and need a capable car. If you see a crappy car in the car park at a rogaine it will probably belong to one of The Crazys. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, The Crazys spend so much time training and competing that they do not climb the work totem pole very well and can’t afford a flashy car. Secondly, The Crazys would prefer to spend their money on a carbon fibre paddle for their racing kayak or on air tickets to compete at an event in Ulaanbaatar. Thirdly the Crazys experience little no joy from possessions, their pleasure is derived from beating everyone else on the sporting field.

Moving Between Classes
The good news is that you can move between classes, although once you are a part of The Crazy you normally staff there. As they grow old they win veteran, then the super veteran and ultra veteran category at events, they do not usually move down in class. The Carefree also do not often move classes competition is not really in their DNA and have no desire to chase a point score. There is however regular movement between the other classes. A member of The Casual may move to The Competent and ultimately to The Committed. Equally a member of The Committed class may move to be a member of The Casuals as family time pressure lessens their commitment.

What about me?
I am a member of The Committed. I wish I was good enough to be one of The Crazys but I have never found the training time and now I am have more time in my mid 50s my body is starting to limit my potential. I have only been a member of The Committed for the last 5 or so years. For the 18 years of rogaining before that I was a member of The Competent.

Trev’s Puzzle

Finally, a small puzzle…
Dave Williams nominated as his favourite place on the course, “the dramatic knife-edge spur above 92 on the way from 70. We timed it perfectly with great views east just before sunset.”

Here is a great example of the difficult country that the top teams encountered on the eastern side of the course.
Which route would you choose between 70 and 92?
a) 50m climb SE to top of mountain, 80m descent S to the knife-edge ridge, 200m descent SSW to Devils Creek & 50m climb to the flag, or
b) Contour around the first summit to the knife-edge ridge, avoiding the 50m climb & descent, or you might
c) Contour SW from 70 to that contour with “1000” on it, take the 150m descent S on the spur, past the “E” in Devils, down the creek to the junction N of 92, or
d) Is there a better alternate option?, or
e) Better still, avoid that area altogether
View the full map here …

10 reasons why you should compete in the 24 hour NSW Championship

There are many reasons why you should compete in the 24 hour at the NSW Championship and here are some:

1. Is is cheaper than the 8 hour event
Both the 8 hour event and the 24 hour event costs $100 ($75 concession) and therefore the 24 hour event costs $4.17 per hour rather than $12.5 per hour. So rather than subsidising those elite rogainers you can become one and have others subsidise you.

2. It’s good for your ego.
I don’t know about you but after I have been in a 24 hour event I tell everyone and I expect them to be impressed. Even if your ego is not as fragile as mine and you do not feel the need to tell everyone you can still eye yourself in the mirror and say “yeah I did that” to yourself.

3. You will create permanent memories.
I can guarantee you that you will remember the experience. I remember every 24 hour event I ever did. Even when I am a drooling mess in my nursing home and I can’t remember my own children, I reckon I will still be reliving some 24 hour rogaine in my head.

4. You will challenge yourself.
I used to think, if only I were fitter then rogaining would be easier. After 23 years of rogaining I have realised that the fitter you are the harder and faster you go so the rogaine still hurts about the same, and possibly more, because you are driven to try and get a place on the podium.

5. Why drive for 6 hours and compete for 8 when you can compete for 24.
For most of us Mount Werong is a 3+ hour trip each way. It seems sub optimal to drive for over six hours and only compete for 8.

6. You will improve your navigation.

The course setters have assured us that the controls have been set in a fashion commensurate with a state championship. This means that there will be few gifts. Do not expect controls to be on creek or road junctions or on the top of some peak. You will have to work for your points. Every point will be hard won and you can be proud of every point you get, particularly after dark.
As a result your navigation will be challenged and will improve.

7. You will get to know your team mate(s) really well.
It is hard to be your polite, accommodating and jovial self for a full 24 hours of competition. At some stage during the 24 hours your team mates will reveal themselves under stress and you will see a new side of them which, in my experience, will help to cement the friendship (or destroy it).

8. You will see more of Mount Werong.
For those of you who have not done an event at Mount Werong it is a really lovely area of bush with some interesting features and it is difficult to do it justice in a mere 8 hours.

9. You will get fitter.
This is obvious. Fitter people live longer and enjoy a higher quality of life.

10. The 8 hour event is not the Championship event.
You can’t really brag about competing in the NSW Championships unless you enter the 24 hour event. The 8 hour event is not the championship event.

11. Sleep is overrated.
Life is great and I resent the fact that I lose a third of it to sleep. A 24 hour event is a chance to rail against the gods of sleep and get more out of your life.

12. Join rogaining’s upper class.
Your social status in rogaining is not defined by what car you drive or what you do for a living. It is defined by how hard and how long you compete. Competing for longer moves you up the social strata of rogaining. (There will be more about roagining’s class structure in a subsequent post.)

13. You do not have to compete for 24 hours.
A family friendly weekend can be had rogaining, it is not all about competition. You can grab your spouse and your kids and have a weekend away at Mount Werong, which is a lovely place. In between camping and sitting around the fire you can grab the odd control.

I look forward to seeing you all on the field of battle in the wee hours of Sunday the 8th of October. Even if you can’t do the 24 hour event, make sure you do the 8 since it will be a great event.

Those of you who are observant will notice I promised ten reasons but have delivered thirteen. If this annoys you then you missed your opportunity to stop reading after ten. If this doesn’t annoy you then enjoy the added value. You can pick your top 10 favourite reasons and cite them to your spouse when begging for leave, or better still, while persuading them to join you in the 24 hour event.

Ciara Smart’s account of the 2017 World Rogaining Championships in Rēzekne, Latvia

And they say Australia is inhospitable!
This year I was lucky enough to travel to Latvia to compete in the World Rogaining Championships, along with nearly a thousand others. At the closing ceremony of the previous World Championships, held near Alice Springs in Australia, I recall the Latvian representative finishing her spiel by stating this Rogaine would be ‘spinifex free.’ While that might have been true this Rogaine definitely challenged my vision of Europe as a landscape defined by open, rolling green countryside!
At this rogaine Australia was the sixth most represented country with a healthy 30 participants. Unsurprisingly, Latvia dominated the field with 409 participants followed by Russia with 165. I was competing with Murray Pinnock.

The event was held in Rēzekne National Park in the south east part of the country. Upon arrival the night before the competition, we were treated to Latvian folk music and discovered that a catering company was providing beer on tap! A display was also set up to familiarise us with the plethora of hazardous flora in the region. In particular we were to look out for a tall plant called ‘hogweed’ which causes the skin to blister upon contact with its sap. Additionally we were to avoid ticks as they carry a number of diseases in this region including Lyme disease. The bears however were harmless!

On the morning of the big day we awoke to extremely heavy rain and the campsite soon became awash with mud. At 9am we balanced umbrellas as we diligently queued for the map handout. The map itself was exceptionally detailed and was dotted with small farmsteads encircled by (supposedly) open farmland. It was much closer to an orienteering map than a standard rogaine map. Looking at the map revealed the extent of the marshland and rivers that define this region. The course area alone included 193 lakes and ponds!

In addition to the standard compulsory equipment, this rogaine also required us to carry our passports in case we should become so geographically misplaced that we wander over the nearby Russian border, or encounter any Russian border police. The top teams in this event were carrying GPS devices that relayed their position back to the hash house and then onto the web. All other teams also had their scores broadcast as they passed set recording points. This was highly successful in making this notoriously spectator unfriendly sport enjoyable to watch.
As it approached noon the weather cleared to reveal an exceptionally sunny, humid day. At midday we set off in a huge crowd. As usual, we travelled to the first few checkpoints in an ant-trail but soon lost the crowds. I was not entirely sure what to expect of the Latvian landscape but the name of one Australian team, ‘Flatvia,’ was quite appropriate. While the landscape was not steep, off-track progress was very slow due to the thickness of the undergrowth. I had made the poor decision of wearing standard Australian rogaining kit of shorts, t-shirt and gaiters. I very quickly regretted this decision once I was breaking a trail through head high nettles. You could easily tell the Australians from the Europeans, the Australians wearing broad-brimmed hats and loose fitting clothing in comparison to European lycra.

Shortly we realized that many of the marked river ‘crossings’ were in fact large beaver dams. They proved remarkably stable considering the hundreds of feet that crossed them in the space of a few short hours. But the marshlands and swamp were impossible to avoid. Within two hours of the start we were in shin-high mud. The particular dampness of this Rogaine led to worse than usual blister problems among competitors. While Murray and I avoided blisters, there were a large number of early withdrawals for this reason. The marshes also led to huge mosquito problems.
Our first few hours went well until we made the costly error of overshooting a control, hitting an unmarked trail and becoming totally disorientated. We lost considerable time here and for a while I had terrible visions of us wandering off into Belarus. Unlike an Australian event, I had truly no idea where I was in the broader context of the region! It also proved challenging adapting to reading a map in a landscape where I had no familiarity. Unlike an Australian rogaine, all the marked rivers had water and there was scarcely a gully to be seen!
Eventually we hit a major road and re-orientated ourselves. The next control involved crossing more than 2 kilometers through a supposedly open ‘field.’ In reality this field was like many others in the region, largely overgrown and the marked road was little more than a narrow foot-track through head high vegetation. The population of Latvia is in decline and this is most marked in rural areas where many farms are abandoned and the fields have been left to wildflowers and nettles.
As it became dark and the competition progressed, navigation became easier. The soft soil quickly developed defined foot tracks that were easy to follow. This very much suited running teams who were already in their element on the flat terrain.

Map handout in the rain

It was interesting to be competing in an area that was not ‘wilderness’ in the Australian sense as it meant that the event had points of cultural interest, like drawing murky water from a well at a marked waterpoint! Around midnight we had the eerie experience of stumbling out of the forest onto a large soviet-era apartment block. It was totally abandoned and stood on the outskirts of a tiny village. Later, at 2am we were confused as we watched bright lights travel at foot-pace towards us. As it came closer, we realized in fact it was a man leading a large horse on the road, being guided by a car. I’ll never know why it was necessary to walk a horse at such an hour.

Locals had been informed that the event was taking place so most of the farm dogs were locked away but it was still nerve-racking to cross farms in the dark to unfriendly barking. The locals themselves seemed understandably perplexed by the hordes of muddy sports-wear clad foreigners ducking in and out of forest and across their farms.
As the sun rose in the morning the temperature increased exponentially. Like many rogaines, the final hour was defined by a slog along a road. We finished on 187 points, placing ourselves 76 out of 156 mixed open teams and fifth in the mixed juniors. We had walked 74km in total. Considering this was our first overseas event, we were pleased with our respectable result. We had scratches, stings and sore knees to show for it and spent the next few days recuperating in the beautiful capital city of Riga.