I was really looking forward to the Lake Macquarie rogaine. It felt like forever since the last Lake Macquarie rogaine, in fact the last Lake Macquarie rogaine was two years ago today. The organising team has had a rough time with Covid cancellations and then storm damage in the Watagans which saw the last two events that were planned in the area being cancelled. I really appreciate the efforts of the Newcastle team putting this event on in a fairly short timeframe.
Having picked up my map it seemed that the course was really divided into three areas; the west, (Lake Side), the east (Beach Side) and suburbia. From a closer look at the map it was clear, to me at least, that the beach area was going to be a waste of time. Beach walking may be pretty, but it is hard work and the controls were too far apart. The suburban part of the course had lots of control but they were too low in points to be be on my preferred course, but were there as a contingency at the end. So my team mate, John Clancy and I plotted a course that basically took in almost all of the controls west of the Hash House.
John and I have a simple rogaining strategy and that is to walk as fast as we can for 6 hours non-stop except for calls of nature of other unavoidable stops. Having had a quick look at the terrain I figured that we should do between 30 and 36kms during the event, but considering a number of small hills on the course it might be closed to 30km than 36. As it turned out we did 30.8kms, which we were pretty happy with.
Normally, when I plan a course I write the proposed control sequence along the top of the map. Yesterday I decided to highlight the proposed path on the map instead. The problem was that I used a green highlighter and during the event I could not discern some of the vegetation boundaries because I had drawn all over it with green highlighter which was the exact same colour as the mapped vegetation. This was a stupid mistake I won’t make again.
The weather was supposed to be pretty well perfect. it was forecast to be 21 degrees and sunny. Now 21 degrees doesn’t sound hot but the there was a lot of road walking and the bitumen was absorbing and reflecting the heat, making it feel much hotter and despite the beachside location the wind was pretty calm. About two and a half hours into the event I was suffering from heat stress and with more than three hours to go things weren’t looking great. Then I remembered Springwood 2019.
At the Springwood 6hr in 2019 it was a stinking hot and humid day and I really struggled due to the heat. I actually had to stop for a while, because at one stage because the world had started spinning. After some water and a rest we managed to keep going, but I wasn’t having a great time. When we got to
the end I was complaining about the heat to Andrew Duerden and he told me that he had immersed himself in a creek mid event to cool down. I was annoyed at myself becasue I hadn’t been smart enough to do the same thing.
Anyway the Springwood lesson came to mind and, much to my team mate’s amazement, I scooped a couple of hat fulls of stagnant and slightly smelly creek water over myself at control 76 and that started to make me feel better. I also got a slightly reluctant Belmont local to spray me with a hose after 92 and also
found a convenient tap on the way to 102 to pour more water over my head and refresh my water bladder.
Being largely suburban course I was expecting navigation to be pretty simple, but there were some real challenges out on the course. There were a lot of unmarked trails and you had to have your wits about you to stay on the trail you wanted and ignore all other trails. We only really lost time twice during
the event. The first loss of time was because team mate’s John bladder was leaking (the one in his backpack). We had to stop once to tighten the straw fitting and also had to detour to the water north of 61 to fill up his now empty bladder.
The second lost time dueing the event was between 36 and 64. On the map there are no straight paths between these controls but out in the field we found one and we decided to follow it. The problem of following an unmapped path is that you don’t know where it is going. As it turned out the path went more or less in the direction we wanted, but we managed to walk past the control and had to stop and reassess and then back track which wasted 5 minutes.
We had planned to do a loop of 70, 80 and 85 on the way back but with 1:45 to go and no easy way of getting into 70, it just looked too hard so we headed east to pick up some suburban controls instead. This was probably a good move, we did 59, 29, 78 and 51 instead of our intended 70, 80, 85, 47, 28, 27 this
was less points but was also less risk of being horribly late back.
The only view I am normally interested in during an event is that of the next control, but it was hard not to be impressed by some of the lakeside and seaside views offered by the course around Belmont.
The other thing to note about the event is that everyone seemed to have had a great time and there was lots of happy chatter post event. John and I ended up with a creditable 14th overall in the 6 hour event, which is just below my 28 year average of beating 80% of all teams, but this depends on who turns up on the day and my sense of yesterday was that there were some pretty good teams out on the 6hr course.
It is a real pity that only 210 people entered yesterday’s event. It was always going to be a good event and I feel sorry for the 300 other people who could have entered but missed out. Thanks to the Newcastle organising team for another great event. It was nice to have a year away from the lawyer vine, although I did manage to cut my finger open on the only piece of lawyer vine I saw all day at 75 and then dripped blood most of the way to 92.