Never Too Young for Lawyer Vine

You are never too young to experience the joys of lawyer vine which, after all, is an Australian native (Smilax australis) pest rather than an introduced one. Sophie, my daughter’s first experience with lawyer vine was in the 2015 Lake Maquarie rogaine when she was 8 years old. Yesterday was her 3rd Lake Macquarie rogaine and now she considers struggling through lawyer vine and getting cut to shreds to be all part of the fun experience.

Yesterday I teamed up with daughter Sophie and novice friend Imi to enter the Lake Macquarie rogaine. With both the 6 and 12 hour events on offer the choice was easy, go for the 12 hour. This may not seem the obvious choice when rogaining with two 13 year old girls but very few family teams do the 12 hour events so there was a very good chance we would win the family category, which we did (yes, we were the only family team in the 12 hour event). I was also keen for the girls to do some night rogaining in order to get the full experience.

The next consideration was a team name, Sophie and I have competed in our two previous Lake Macquarie events as the “Zombie Unicorns” so yesterday team name was “Zombie Unicorns Ride Again”. We collaborated to create a team logo using Photoshop and some purloined images.

Our team logo

A good team name deserves some good team nicknames so we went with ‘Pegs’, ‘Problem’ and ‘Phather’. Sophie went with ‘Pegs’ which became her nickname after a recent camping trip with Imi’s family where there was an incident with some tent pegs. I was ‘Phather’ wihich was a spelling of ‘father’ starting with P to be consistent with my team mates and Imi was ‘Problem’ which was apparently some self-evident truth.

It was really good to catch up with some old rogainers who I have not seen for a while due to COVID 19 impacting our rogaining schedule. I miss the fatigue and the trash talk, I miss having good teams fly past me and I miss grabbing controls and sneaking away while other competitors wander around scratching their heads. Yesterday, I taught my team mates an important lesson on what not to say when you see a control and also how to bag a control in complete silence and disappear into the bush without the other teams noticing.

Problem and Pegs doing some route planning.

Yesterday my team mates and I went about three hours without seeing any other competitors. Usually when you don’t see any other teams for a long time it is because you are lost, moving too slowly or chasing “sucker” controls. Yesterday we bagged 72, 36, 46, 37, 73 and got almost all the way to 103 before we saw another team. While I love not seeing other teams on the course, after 90+ rogaines it still gives me the feeling that I might be totally lost.

I think Imi (Problem) really enjoyed yesterday’s rogaine. She seemed to be especially enjoying the lawyer vine because everytime we turned around she was lying face down in the scrub having appreciated yet another piece of lawyer vine.

A couple of interesting things happened during the event yesterday. After about 5 hours of rogaining the girls interest turned towards the tea and damper control over getting more high point controls so we made a long side trip to the tea and damper control. I forgot to warn the girls that the Tea and Damper spot would probably have neither tea nor damper, but the disappointment was quickly overcome by mouthfuls of muffins and various pieces of fruit which were consumed without drawing breath.

The second interesting thing that happened yesterday was that we came across an acoustic recorder in the bush near control 46. The owner of the recorder will be puzzling for some time over the noise made by “Problem” falling over, yet again, near the recorder.

The third interesting thing that happened is that our team was cursed by Andrew Duerden. We had arrived back to the hash house to have a quick rest and some dinner. While we were there I was chatting with Andrew who was telling me that some good teams were struggling to find low points controls close to the hash house. I wasn’t worried because, up until that time, we had been finding controls pretty easily and hadn’t missed any all day. Sure enough Andrew’s words were a portent of doom because we failed to find 21, 22 and 32 all within a few minutes walk of the Hash House.

In conclusion, I must thank Pegs and Problem for their fabulous efforts yesterday and for putting up with my continual pushing for just one more control, despite the fact that we had already won the family category (unless we got disqualified). Thanks also to the organisers and vounteers including Bert van Netten, Anita Bickle, the Montgomery clan, Bob Gilbert and others for putting on another memorable event. I have competed in the Lake Macquarie event regularly since 1995, I still enjoy them greatly and I am looking forward to more lawyer vine in 2021.

Them’s the Rules

Posted on 12/12/2016 by Chris

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.Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

My Wrap of the 2018 Paddy Pallin

Posted on 17/06/2018 by Chris

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.