Night Navigation

With the Navigation Workshop coming up in April, I thought I would write some of my thoughts and experiences about night navigation.

My first experience of night navigation was during my first event, which was the 1994 Australian Championships at Bethungra (near Cootamundra). Prior to entering this event I had never used a compass at night, but that still made me the team expert, because my two companions had never used a compass at all.

I was really pleased with my control finding ability until the wheels fell off about 2 in the morning. We found a tricky control about midnight and then proceeded to the next control about a kilometre away. We never found it.

By 2am I had to admit that not only did we not find the control, but I had absolutely no idea where we were. We could see teams moving by headlight in the distance, but pride prevented me from trying to find them and ask for assistance. So rather than move around and get more lost (if that was possible) we slept on the ground until dawn. Once the sun rose the surrounding mountains made it pretty clear where we were and we headed back to the hash house.

From that night on I was hooked on rogaining and rogaining at night still has a special place in my heart. Rogaining at night is an interesting emotional roller coaster. With many emotions playing out as the night unfolds.

The first phase is panic as you rush to get as many controls as possible by the failing light.

The second phase is melancholy. Being at home just after dark usually means food, company and TV (or Youtube these days). Home, just after dark, is a very hospitable place. The bush, just after dark, is quite an inhospitable place and demons tend to lurk in your brain. More than once, just after it has gone dark on a rogaine, I have asked myself “What the hell am I doing here?”

The third phase of this emotional roller coaster is acceptance. Acceptance of the fact that it is dark and you need to shift mentally into night mode. Night mode means pace counting and careful navigation using the lesser number of clues that are available at night.

The fourth phase of night navigation is confidence. Confidence comes at the time you have bagged a couple of controls in the dark and you have your pace counting distance down pat and you are starting to score serious points despite the handicap of the darkness. It’s a great feeling, but it never lasts.

Night Rogaining
Me rogaining at night (I am on the left, smiling).
The fifth phase of night navigation is “the fog”. No not a literal fog, it is the fog that enters your brain from fatigue and being awake when your body is screaming for sleep. This fog has caused me (and my rogaining colleagues) to make some horrible navigation decisions. I distinctly recall my partner, Julian Ledger, and me walking up the wrong valley for 45 mins, at the Garland valley rogaine, and then looking for a control that wasn’t there before realising we had made an appalling mistake. That is what the “fog” does to you. Human beings just weren’t meant to be awake between 2 and 5 in the morning. My sister is a long term nurse on night shift and she gets my respect.

Assuming you don’t walk off a cliff while enduring “the fog” the next phase of night navigation is optimism. This is the optimism brought on by more points under your belt and an emerging dawn. There is something special about the optimism combined with the inevitable fatigue of rogaining into morning’s first light.

Night navigation also brings funny moments. I can’t remember which rogaine it was, but it had been raining and we had to ford the upper reaches of Cox’s river. It was a very cloudy night so it was pitch black. I had no idea how deep the river was going to be at the the ford so, pushed for time, I proceeded straight in. My rogaining partner baulked when the water reached chest deep, but I told him he was being precious and we proceeded across the river. Halfway across the river, chest deep in water, I could hear some people crossing the river next to us. I turned my light to look and see another team crossing the barely ankle deep river at the ford which was only about 3 metres away.

That partner never did another rogaine. I am not sure if it was the “ford incident” or the fact that it rained most of the night or the fact that one of our headlights failed and we had to share a headlight for the rest of the night (when I say share, he wore it all night).

In conclusion, I love night navigation. At the risk of being a bigot, the best rogaining is done at night and the best rogainers barely slow down as they trot uphill and down dale finding control after control regardless of what challenges stand in their way.

Rather than learning night navigation the hard way, like I did, come along to Navigation Workshop in April. Imbued by the skills learnt at the Navigation Workshop your nights in the bush will be full of confidence until “the fog” gets you.

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.

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.


“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

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.