My Wrap – Lake Macquarie 2017 6hr

I confess I was a bit nervous when I read pre-event information which included the line “Gaiters or other leg coverings (full body cover recommended)”. I have done the Lake Macquarie event a few times over my last 23 years of rogaining and I have had my fair share of wrestling with lawyer vine. Therefore I was prepared for a “tough day at the office”. So I was pleasantly surprised that my team mate Carl and I did very little scrub fighting during the event. In fact the only tough stuff we encountered was on a western approach to Control 50.

It was team mate Carl’s 3rd rogaine (the previous two were not really bush rogaines) and I think he was a bit aghast when I dived off the track into a patch of fairly impenetrable bush on the way to 50, but being an experienced Lake Macquarie rogainer I realised that once we got through the rubbish on the creek bank the creek itself would probably be easier going. To his credit Carl just followed, picking his own way through the lawyer vine.

Carl had lashed out and bought himself a new compass for the event, which he was using to good effect until we left control 83 and he realised he now had the lanyard with no compass attached. The compass came with a plastic clip which connected the compass to the lanyard. Ironically, during the car ride we had discussed the fact that the clip was not very secure, these words turned out to be prophetic as somewhere Control 83 the plastic clip and compass separated itself from the lanyard. So if anyone found a new looking compass near control 83 Carl would love to get it back since it had only been used for 4 controls.

Suunto Compass with similar dodgy clip

This year’s Lake Macquarie’s course was an interesting one. The HH was on the east of the course and surrounded by out of bounds areas. Carl and I decided to try a slightly risky strategy of starting the event with a road bash south to Control 102. This was risky because conventional wisdom would have been to do the road bash in the dark on the way back, but I preferred the route choices offered by coming back through the bush. In fact a couple of teams returning along the road were late back. Notably, team 120 of Andrew Wisniewski and Jeremy Crisp did their score a bit of damage by arriving back 20 mins late from Control 102. In fact they would have placed 1st in the Men’s Veteran’s if they had managed to get back on time.

The other thing to note about the course was the number of unmarked trails. There were heaps of them and at least one of them got me. We were en-route from Control 73 to 72 when we came across a fire trail that looked a lot like the one of the map. Carl and I both commented that we thought the fire trail had come too early, but it even had the “Y” head that matched the map. Carl and I charged down this fire trail and started looking for the Control along the gully junction, but sure enough we could not find anything. We were just about to give up looking when I spied Andrew and Nicole Haigh (the overall 6 hour winners – great job guys) and they didn’t seem interested in looking where we were, which was a big hint. In fact, it might be my paranoia creeping up on me, but I think I saw a look of “what on earth are they doing looking there” on Andrew’s face as they flashed by. I have been behind the Haighs during a couple of rogaines over the years and their navigation seems flawless. Watching them rogaine is like reading good poetry. As you can see from the mistakes, on our GPS track below, our rogaining was more like punk than poetry.

We did find control 72 but wasted 19 minutes of valuable time in the process. We also lost a few minutes at Control 102 by not looking far enough down the gully on the first pass and we looked for Control 40 but missed it – but that was more darkness and time pressure than poor navigation. We ended up two and a bit minutes late back having tried to jog back from control 40. It is never much fun trying to jog the last bit of a rogaine and I am continually impressed by those who jog the whole event.

I was reasonably happy with our results:

  • 14th overall
  • 3rd in Men’s Veteran’s
  • 24 klms covered
  • 1.1 klms up (and down)
  • 1,040 points

Overall I found this year’s (the 25th) Lake Macquarie event really enjoyable and the course was well set. There was good route choice despite the limitation of the out of bounds areas and it was a good test of your rogaining ability. Thanks very much to Bert Van Neten and Ian Dempsey for the course and everyone else helping out to make the event a great success.

Fenceageddon

“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.

This is me – In my dreams

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.

The Paddy Pallin Rogaine Mixed Teams Trophy

[Trevor Gollan 14-Jun-2017]

One feature of the Paddy Pallin Rogaine is its history. 

Paddy initiated the “Paddy Pallin Orienteering Contest” in 1964 to encourage people to enjoy the bush with minimal impact and to practice and improve their navigation skills.  In 1988 it morphed into the Paddy Pallin Rogaine, organised by the NSW Rogaining Association, switching from a three to a six-hour format.

Over the last week I’ve had the Mixed Teams Trophy for a touch of maintenance, and it has pleasantly reinforced to me the tradition of Paddy’s inspired event.  Many “famous” names from the orienteering and rogaining community show up on the annual plaques.  Some are sadly not with us anymore but most are still active members of our navigation community.  And quite a few will be wandering the Arthursleigh property this weekend, exploring new countryside, keeping fit.

I’ve extracted below all the names from the Trophy.  There are some spelling mistakes on the plaques (eg. “L. Thompso” 1974) and I may have transcribed some incorrectly.  We don’t have entries for 1964-1966 which is a pity, but how special to have a trophy that has been active since 1967 – for 50 years!  The Mixed Teams concept also introduces other interesting, romantic stories, such as couples that appear later as a married team, or partnerships perhaps now separated.

Whose names will be added to the Mixed Teams Trophy this year?

Year 1st Place team 2nd Place Team
1967 Margot Cox, Gosta Lynga Johanna Hallmann, Mary Frazer
1968 L. Melmeith, T. Jordon S. Hope, I. Olson
1969 D. Willcox, K. Ritson E. Rasmanis, L. Melmeth
1970 A. O’Leary, P. Brett L. Melmeth, E. Rasmanis
1971 D. Munro, M. Munro, R. Preston D. Greenz, D. Mitchell
1972 E. Rasmanis, R. Rasmanis M. Munro, D. Mitchell
1973 W. Davies, R. Alsop
1974 R. Alsop, R. Adams L. Thompso, R. Bonny
1975 R. Alsop, R. Adams R. Bonny, P. Tuft
1976 T. Radford, A. Radford, C. Wilmott M. Wilmott, S. Kopriva
1977 A. & T. Radford R. Howe, M. Job, A. Blyth
1978 A. & T. Radford J. Kopriva, S. Kopriva, J. Willmott
1979 A. Blyth, P. Howe, M. Job, M. Main, A. Radford P. Arnold, J. Kopriva
1980 A. Lumsden, J. Bourne S. Tremont, B. Stow
1981 B. & D. van Netten, A. Tait M. Wilmot, H. Cane
1982 B. & D. van Netten K.R. Cameron, E. Cameron
1983 B. & D. van Netten A. Simson, L.Seidl
1984 A. & M. Darvodelsky V. &J.Rowe
1985 A. & M. Darvodelsky I. Jubov, Arnold
1986 A.& M. Darvodelsky J.& V. Hodsdon
1987 F. & J. Anderson, T. Page
1988 K. Saw, B. Van Netten, J. Ellis S. Clarke, J. LeCarpentier
1989 D. Van Netten, P. Creaser B. Van Netten, K. Saw, J. Ellis
1990 J. &V. Hodsdon S. Clarke, I. Diamond
1991 J. Le Carpentier, S. Clarke, M. Burton I. Dempsey, N. Holmes, A. Kingsland
1993 J. Parr, S. George A. Milburn, M. Billinghurst
1992 S. George, J. Parr K. & J. Anderson
1994 S. George, J. Parr N. Plunkett-Cole, G. Prosser, A. Simpson, P. Garran
1995 T. Landon-Smith, A. McMaster S. George, J. Parr
1996 T. Landon-Smith, A. McMaster S. Clarke, J. LeCarpentier
1997 Paula Hawtin, Paul Darvodelsky Simon George, Joanna Parr
1998 Sue Clarke, Chippy, Graeme Hill Asa Hedin, Tim Martniuk
1999 A. &N. Haigh T. Landon-Smith, A. McMaster
2000 R. Delaney, R. King T. Cogley, K. Small, J. Allport
2001 Ben Schultz, Michelle Scott Andrew & Nicole Haigh
2002 Andrew & Nicole Haigh Paul Batten, Bronwyn Lawton
2003 Tom Landon-Smith, Alina McMaster Chris Clausen, Rosemary King
2004 Tom Landon-Smith, Alina McMaster John Barnes, Mardi Beat, Andrew Perry
2005 Tom Landon-Smith, Alina McMaster John Barnes, Mardi Beat
2006 Mick Driscoll, Greig Scott, Jenny Scott Andrew & Nicole Haigh
2007 Robbie Preston, Paula Shingler Mark Freeman, Darleen Cheney, James Hayward
2008 Heather Logie, Mark McDonald Andrew & Nicole Haigh
2009 Andrew & Nicole Haigh Simon George, Paula Shingler
2010 Jess Baker, Richard Green Tasmin Barnes, Richard Robinson
2011 Glenn Horrocks, Lisa Grant Anthony Morgan, Kim Van Netten
2012 David Baldwin, Julie Quinn, Ben Greenwood Andrew & Nicole Haigh
2013 Gill Fowler, Joel Mackay Andrew & Nicole Haigh
2014 Carolyn Matthews, Malcolm Roberts Clare Lonergan, Kieran MacDonell
2015 David Baldwin, Julie Quinn Andrew & Nicole Haigh
2016 Joanna Sinclair, Philip Whitten Andrew & Nicole Haigh
2017

Here’s some other interesting things about this trophy:

  • When the Paddy Pallin Orienteering Contest was conceived there were only two trophies: the Open and the Mixed categories.
  • It’s unusual in that (generally) the plaques record the top two We usually only show the winning team.

There’s one special feature that links the trophy to the 2017 Paddy Pallin Rogaine. 

 

It’s decorated with an old map and compass.

Phil Whitten, the coordinator and course setter for this year’s event, has noted that the map is actually part of the Arthursleigh property.  The map seems to be scaled at 1inch to the mile with 50ft contours, but the grid spacing doesn’t seem to be either half-mile or a km.

An interesting snippet of information, and a sneak peek at some of this year’s Paddy Pallin Rogaine course…

 

“Karst Irony” – The Fun Rogaine

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.

Our 6 hour course from “Karst Irony”

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.

My wrap of the Australian Championships

The Australian Championships were held over the weekend in an area near Bredbo, south of Canberra and I thought I would write down a few things that piqued my interest from the event.

Firstly, I must pay homage to David Baldwin and Julie Quinn who won the event and scored 10% more than 2nd place. I am in complete awe of their ability to run quickly over all sorts of landscapes and navigate flawlessly. It’s just a pity they are Canberrans when state (and territory) pride was on the line over the weekend. ACT won the State (and Territory) challenge with NSW a slightly distant 2nd.

Secondly, I will call out Rochelle Duerden who ran with two TAFE friends who had never before been to a rogaine. Rochelle is a very good rogainer and I could not imagine trying to keep up with her for 24 hours, especially on my first rogaine.  To the credit of Rochelle and her friends (Morgen Ely and Issy Allan) they were all smiling at the end and managed a creditable 2nd in the women’s junior event as well as 7th in the Open Women’s event as well as 7th in the Intervarsity event.

Rochelle’s team, aged 19-21. All studying Cert 3 in outdoor recreation, full time at TAFE Western Lithgow. They covered a laudable 65km during the event.

I must also discuss the All Night Cafe, it was like visiting a Michelin starred restaurant in the middle of the course. The All Night Cafe had everything your heart could desire and more. I made a pig of myself and I think I am not the only one. My only complaint is that it was very hard to pull myself, and my team mate Julian, away from this luxury oasis to chase more points in the dark, cold and unforgiving bush. The All Night Cafe had several main meals on offer as well as soups, hot drinks and a range of homemade cookies and slices. The All Night Cafe was run by Jean Douglass and her sister. Jean was also the course setter for the event, along with Ron Simpson, and she was also the event co-ordinator. Well done Jean, it was an amazing effort.

The course was interesting. It was set in a fashion commensurate with being an Australian Championship, that is there were no easy controls. All controls required skill to find. In fact I met a team at the water drop who were lamenting the fact that they had failed to find the last four controls they attempted. I think they were in good company, Julian and I duffered, but found, control 80 and failed to find control 46 in the dark. The other thing to note about the course is that it was huge covering about 140 sq km and full of controls, with 68 to choose from. All the controls Julian and I visited were fairly set and we enjoyed the hunt. It’s just a pity that we could only manage to get to about 1/3 of all the controls on offer.

Julian and I had planned a gentlemanly approach to the rogaine which involved coming back to the hash house for a well earned mid competition sleep. However, not all plans come to fruition and at midnight and we were several hours away from the hash house when Julian suggested that we “bivouac” instead of returning to the hash house. Bivouacing may sound exciting but it was cold and windy and I kept thinking about my mattress and two pillows in my tent. Anyway, we crawled off into the bush near control 60 and slept for several hours until we became so cold that we just had to get up and keep going. It got down to -1.1 degrees at nearby Cooma Airport with the wind chill making it feel like -5.1 degrees. Needless to say Julian and I were wearing everything we had with us and we also broke open our space blankets to stop from freezing. Sleeping rough, until the cold of night forces you to go on, is a strategy Julian and I also employed at the Garland Valley 24 hour event a couple of years ago.

Our warm and comfy tents which we didn’t get to use on Saturday night.

There were a number of performances from my NSW colleagues that were worth a mention. Gill Fowler and Jess Baker won the women’s category and came 8th overall. Mike Hotchkis and Tristan White teamed up to come 4th overall and 3rd in the men’s event. Mike and Tristan are an interesting pairing. Mike is a Super Veteran and Tristan was in the Under 23s until last year. Mike has been an outstanding rogainer for many years and is a bit of a legend in our sport. Tristan is at the vanguard of a new generation of outstanding rogainers. It would have been interesting to attach a GoPro to one of them to watch the action and hear the discussions. Mike would have won the men’s veterans and men’s super veterans if he had been competing with someone from his own age group, but having said that, there are very few super veterans who could keep up with Mike. Also well done to Colleen and Colin Mock who came 2nd in the mixed ultra veteran’s event.

Still on the subject of NSW performances Ivan Koudashev and his sister Elena won the Mixed Juniors and were the second placed junior team. I will be interested to see how well they perform when they are no longer juniors. If they stick with rogaining they may well be household names in the rogaining community for decades to come. Nihal Danis and Sue Clarke (now a Queenslander, but a former NSW rogainer) came 2nd in the Women’s Super Veterans and Ted Woodley and John Anderson came third in the Men’s Ultra veterans.

On the flip side of the coin Richard Sage and Walter Keleman (a Queenslander, but a former NSW rogainer) were so late that they were disqualified. Richard and Walter are both fine rogainers and have more than 40 years of rogaining between them. Rumour has it that not only did they miss a control, but they were also significantly topographically embarrassed (i.e. lost) and that is why they were very late back. What is certain is that Richard and Walter were soundly beaten by a team comprising their better halves (Nihal and Sue).

I can’t finish this post without talking about the terrain. It was similar to terrain in the Tarlo River rogaine. Its was great for rogaining but it is very marginal country with little evidence of life outside of the odd kangaroo and a wombat or two. Walking through that country you can understand why it is available for rogaining as it would be pretty useless for farming. Thanks to Laurie Scheele the owner of 30% of the course for sharing his country with us. I am told there are koalas on the course but I couldn’t find them, having said that though, it is hard to look for koalas during a rogaine without falling over, which is something I did regularly.

Overall the event was very well organised and there were a lot of tired but smiling people at the end. I confess a slight sense of regret that relatively few people took advantage of the event. There were only 153 teams in a course that could accommodate three or four times that.

Thanks very much to my ACT colleagues for putting on (and winning) a great event.

The End of an Era

It’s the end of an era. Welcome to the era of Teslin.

Teslin, for those of you not up with the latest innovations in rogaining, is that “paper” on which we have started to print maps. Teslin is water proof and very strong. I used an unprotected Teslin map in the National Championships on the weekend and the unprotected map survived the event in almost perfect condition, unlike its carrier who has a scratched head from walking into a tree branch.

For those of you are interested “Teslin” is a brand name of its manufacturer PPG and according to their website “PPG TESLIN® substrate is a microporous, dimensionally stable, highly filled, single-layer, polyolefin synthetic material. A non-abrasive inorganic filler comprises 60 percent of the weight, and it is 65 percent air by volume.
The porous, uncoated nature of Teslin substrate absorbs inks, adhesives, coatings, and laminating films to form strong interlocking bonds with the substrate that secure printed data.”

It is interesting that the word “paper” is not mentioned and while Teslin claims it is recyclable I am not sure if it is recycled as a plastic or a paper. In any case, I would not dream of recycling my rogaining maps. The kids can throw them out after I have passed on.

In days gone by the first thing competitors did at a rogaine was cover their map with contact but like the horse and buggy this is a rarely viewed sight these days.

The picture below is my team mate, Julian Ledger, who is not as yet convinced by the power of Teslin. Here he is displaying his contacting artistry having covered the huge National Championship map (bigger than two A3 sheets) without any air bubbles on the front. (The back was not so pretty :<)

Julian proudly displaying his map contacting skill.

The other thing to note about Teslin is that it was great at taking a significant portion of the skin off my lips. I put my map in my mouth, at one stage, to scramble up something and when I pulled it out again I found the skin of my lips were now part of the “microporous, dimensionally stable” substrate.

Personally, I never had much patience for contacting and in any case I used to delegate that task to my wife who is a school teacher and could contact a sand castle, without air bubbles, in her sleep.

Welcome to the era of Teslin!

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.

Do you like it Soft or Hard ?

Judging by our attendance at 12 and 24 hour events I think most Rogainers like it soft. The NSW Organising Committee (of which I am a part) are wondering why relatively few people enter 12 or 24 hour events.

I have a number of theories I would like to share:

Sanity

Only a person with a tenuous hold on sanity would enjoy running around thick bush in the dark with a map and compass. “Normal” people simply do not feel the need to endure that much discomfort or have a competitive urge that will drive them for 24 hours. Yes, in case you were wondering, rogainers are not “normal” people.

Family

I lose a lot of “brownie” points when I disappear into the bush for a weekend with mates. My wife has done a 24 hour event with me, but now we have young kids we can’t both go. All married people with young children will understand that a weekend away leaving your significant other at home with the kids has a price that must be paid.

A suggestion from my fellow Committee Members is to take my family with me. Good idea, but unfortunately my family’s hold on sanity exceeds mine, and I cannot find the words to convince them that wandering around the bush in the dark is fun. To be honest, my son thinks going somewhere without wifi is an unnatural and completely avoidable act.

Work

I don’t know about the elite athletes, but my work on Monday suffers after a 24 hour event. No amount of coffee can replace the 20+ IQ points I sacrifice to fatigue. These days I take the Monday off after an event, but that also has a cost.

Pain

Most people do not like being in pain and it is almost impossible to do a 12 or 24 hour event without suffering some form of pain. I vividly remember ripping my big toe nail off 2 hours into the Garland Valley 24hr and also suffering heat stress around 3 hrs into the Gundy 24 hr. Let’s face it in today’s modern society you can avoid almost any form of pain, but it is very difficult to do a 12 or 24 hour event without suffering some level of pain, either during or after the event.

Risk

Getting home after a 12 or 24 hour event is tricky. If you have been going hard for 24 hours it is risky to drive a motor vehicle and given that often these events are held in remote locations this risk is amplified. Please, please please do not try and drive home straight after a 12 or 24 hour event.

But wait, I am on the Committee and I am supposed to be promoting 12 and 24 hour events on behalf of Organising Committee so here are some reasons why you absolutely must do a 12 or 24 hour Rogaine.

Memories

I am in my 50s now and having led a relatively full life I forget things. I forget people I have worked with, I forget parties, I forget trips away, I forget what possessions I have and I even forget who won My Kitchen Rules, but I remember every 12 and 24 hour rogaining event I have ever done. I remember where the event was, I remember who was with me and I remember which course we took and what navigational blunders we made. I even remember which of my team mates I pushed against the electric fence to see if it was live.

When I am too old to compete, these are the memories I want to re-live, not who won the 2016 My Kitchen Rules competition.

Achievement

I am an average rogainer, but I am proud of my ability to find an orange flag hanging on a tree in a valley which 99.9999% of the population will never visit. I am also proud of my ability to compete for 12 or 24 hours. I enjoy telling my work mates how I spent my weekend when the highlight of their weekend was seeing a movie none of us will remember in a year’s time.

Endorphins

I am not sure about others but there is something to be said about the chemicals that flows through your body for a few days or weeks after a 12 or 24 rogaine. Whatever the source; chemical, psychological or imagination I feel really good for a week or two following a rogaine and all I can think of is the next one.

Teamwork

I have worked in teams for many years both in my work life and also in my sporting life, having played many team sports such as indoor and outdoor cricket, yacht racing, volley ball, touch rugby and others. But you do not really know team work until you have done a 24 hour rogaine. Long rogaines take team work to the next level. You have a truly symbiotic relationship with your partner during the event. You might enter as strangers, but 24 hours later you will know that person well. My only real experience with team work comes from endurance events and not from an hour of sport or from a work conference get together.

Enjoying the Simple Things

A long Rogaine puts your life into perspective and helps you to enjoy the simple things. Simple things like stopping moving, eating something you didn’t carry and a toilet with a seat, all seem like luxury after a long rogaine. Possessions all seem like meaningless encumbrances when you are on a long rogaine.  Very few rogainers drive expensive cars and I think this is why. They value experience over possessions.

Sleep

Do you have trouble sleeping, well I know a sure fire cure, it’s called a 12 or 24 hour rogaine.

Pleasures

There are many pleasures of rogaining, such as finding a difficult control at night while others wander in circles around you or comparing scores with another team to find out you have soundly beaten them. The Australian bush can be hard but is also very beautiful and there is something special about rogaining through the last gasp of light in the evening or in morning’s first light.

Conclusion

In conclusion, my message is simple:

Enter a 12 and or a 24 hour rogaine.

You have not lived until you have added that to your life’s kitbag of experiences.

Thems “The Rules”

At the most recent meeting of the NSW Rogaining Association Committee the issue of mis-punching electronic controls was discussed.

By default the event software we use “RogaineScore” records the lowest score recorded by a team member so any mis-punches lower the entire team’s score.

In the past we have been fairly generous in adjusting scores in the case of one team member not “punching” correctly but this approach has two problems, firstly this approach causes problems post event  and secondly does not align with the rules.

Our previous generous approach to mis-punching has been causing problems after the event. Our target is to get all the scores up and the presentations started 30 minutes after the event finishes and while sometimes we do not make this deadline we are usually pretty close.  At the presentation we want to be giving the right teams the right prizes and this is difficult if we have teams who add up their scores some time after the event, realise they have a mis-punch and  then want a score adjustment. The discussion at the Committee was prompted by one instance of this.

At the NSW Championship, one of the 24Hr category winners changed on the recognition of a mis-punch. It was this event that provoked the discussion at the Committee meeting in November.

Our rules are not silent on the subject and actually say: “Rule 18. Where more than one electronic recording device is provided to a team, all devices must record a visit to a checkpoint to gain points for that checkpoint.” That seems pretty straight forward and there is little room for misinterpretation.

Martin Dearnley (Socialgaine Organiser) demonstrating his punching form

We applied Rule 18 more strictly at the Socialgaine with interesting consequences.  One of the consequences was that our President, Gill Fowler, got “hoisted on her own petard”.  Gill and her team mate Jess Baker would have placed first overall except one of them mis-punched control 38. My heart also went out to a family team who had 4 out of 5 team members punch an 80 pointer but it seems one of the team mis-punched that control and lost the family some places.

Part of me says that it’s cruel to deny Gill and Jess their win and also to deny the family team their 80 pointer when rogaining should be about bush navigation, guile and endurance and not punching technique. On the other hand they are the rules and who says that the winning team of Martin Dent and Rowan Walker didn’t lose time because they were more diligent with their punches and perhaps could have got another 30 points if they didn’t lose a few seconds at each control making sure of their punch.  I am not as fast as Gill and Jess or Martin and Rowan so I always make sure that I see the second flash of the Navlight punch before moving on.

Sometimes the punches, not the human using them, fail and this happens occasionally during an event. In these cases though, it is usually obvious to the event administrator because many teams have the same problem and bulk adjustments are made to the scores.  Given the fact that the Navlight punches sit quietly in the bush, often for a couple of weeks before the event (and a couple of weeks after) it is amazing how robust and reliable these units are.

I can’t finish this blog post without commenting on the metal covers we use in events where the controls are more likely to be found by members of the public. Put simply, I hate them.  I am not a patient person during a rogaine, as my team mates will attest (Sorry guys) and my patience is pushed to the limit because it is very hard to see a flash from the end of the metal cover. The result is precious time lost trying to contort my wrist and the navlight into a position where I can see the second flash under the metal cover.

Also note that you can lodge a protest after an event if something happens that is not aligned to the rules and I cannot anticipate what a protest Committee may decide, but given our rules, it is unlikely that they would facilitate a score adjustment after a mis-punch.