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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-hour 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.
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 teamwork until you have done a 24-hour rogaine. Long rogaines take teamwork 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 teamwork 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.
Do you have trouble sleeping, well I know a surefire cure, it’s called a 12 or 24-hour rogaine.
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.
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.