I really enjoyed yesterday’s metrogaine, even though it has left me stiff and sore today.

Congratulations to the organising team, the event ticked all my boxes:

I wasn’t sure that I was going to make yesterday’s event, but John Bulman contacted me at the last minute and suggested we team up. I know John from the Bold Horizon’s Saturday morning orienteering, at which I am a regular. I also knew that John was fitter and faster than me. John would normally seek out a faster partner, but he is recovering from injury and was therefore less ambitious about what he could do.

When I got the map yesterday the first thing I noted was the number of controls on offer. I think there were 65 controls on the course. It seems every year our events have more and more controls. Mind you I am not complaining, but yesterday your mind and body had little chance to switch off between controls. My mind was a busy place yesterday trying to remember the next couple of controls, the control descriptions and which turns to make. At the same time my body was going through the wringer, trying to keep up with John.

I have bushwalked and orienteered in the area previously and before arriving at the event I was determined to avoid any heroic climbs, because there were a few very steep tracks on the course. John and I went from 57 to 71 down Knapsack Gully and when we were almost at the bottom, we passed a member of the public telling us he was exhausted from walking up the steps. The amusing thing was he was only about a 1/5 of the way up, so he had an uncomfortable, slow climb ahead of him.

Our course was pretty good, it seemed that our downhills were steeper than our uphills and we never got the feeling that we were doing anything heroic.

One of the engaging parts of rogaining is setting your course.  My usual strategy is to pick up the maps, get a view of what I think is pretty good and then wander around and discuss my proposed route with others. In yesterday’s case I sought out Julian ledger and Ted Woodley. Julian is generally a better course setter than me, while Ted is a consummate technician and usually strings the course, so from these two you get a pretty good idea of good routes and distances.

The other secret for setting your course is to look at the proposed Novice routes, because the people who set the event propose the novice routes and will have a pretty good idea of what makes sense and what doesn’t. In the case of yesterday’s map John and I based our course off the longer novice route and added loops to make it longer to better suit our proposed distance of travel.

One test that your route is good is who you see out on the course. Yesterday we kept on running into Ted and Julian (team 20), Warwick Selby, and Gordon Wilson (team 11) and we also ran across Andrew Duerden and Mike Hotchkis several times (team 144). This group must have 700 or 800 rogaines between them so you know that your course is basically sound when these teams are on a similar course.

Unfortunately, we did witness some cheating yesterday. We witnessed one team crossing the Great Western Highway where they shouldn’t and we also saw a number of teams taking an illegal exit from control 84, the Tunnel Portal. Sometimes people accidentally cheat by not properly reading out of bounds areas on the map or by not knowing exactly where they are. To make a mistake is one thing, to deliberately flout the rules is pointless and cheapens the team’s achievements.

I was quite happy with our results yesterday. John and I did 30.02 kms in 5:47 and came 29th /160 teams on the day. Before the event I would have thought that 30km was out of reach on the course, so I was quite happy we achieved that.  Also my long term average for the last 29 years of rogaining is beating 80% of teams. Yesterday John and I beat  81% of teams and thereby helped to preserve my long term average. Now that I am in my 60’s I am pleased my results have not, as yet, fallen off a cliff. I also thought John and I made a pretty good team. We stopped each from doing anything too stupid, so our mistakes were pretty small and we lost no time in finding any of the controls.

Well done to Ted and Julian for winning the Men’s Ultra Veteran’s with a hard fought win over Warwick Selby, and Gordon Wilson who were 2nd and only 10 points behind. Well done also to Andrew Duerden and Mike Hotchkis for winning my category, the Men’s Super Veterans. I suspect that the only way I can beat Andrew and Mike is if one of them gets injured and the other has to carry him around the course.

Thanks to everyone for putting on a really good day out. Special thanks goes to Graham Field for mapping and organising the event. Many thanks to Stephen McKay, Sally McKay and Bandit McKay for developing such a good course and thanks to Nicole Mealing, David Williams and  Su Li Sin for vetting the course. Also thanks to Nicole for her efforts in promoting the event and getting so many novices along. Even the weather Gods were kind yesterday and it would have been difficult not to enjoy the event.

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