Congratulations to Steve Ryan and other volunteers for putting on this very sucessful event. Steve set the course, made the map and also acted as the event co-ordinator. Three roles normally done by three different people and all completed with a very high degree of success. I suspect that, given more time, Steve may have also arranged better weather.

Steve Ryan on right with recently elected NSW President, Graham Field on the left.

The Course

When I picked up the map I was pleasantly surprised to see the course. There were plenty of controls and a lot of route choice. My nemesis (and good mate), Julian, teamed up with Ted Woodley. It was interesting that during our usual pre-event sledge it came to light that Julian and Ted were heading west, while my team mate, John, and I were heading east. Julian and I have well over two hundred events between us so when we come up with different strategies it is a sure sign that Steve’s map was very well balanced and good scores could be obtained by multiple routes.

Ted Woodley on left and Julian Ledger on the right – Congratulations on winning ths Men’s Ultra Veterans’

The Weather

I don’t want to complain too much about the weather because as I get older I struggle in the heat so I would much prefer a rainy event to a hot one, but it certainly did rain. I checked the forecast before I left home and it was expected to shower during the first hour of the event and then the likelihood of rain was expected to diminish. This didn’t happen like the Bureau predicted, it rained pretty solidly throughout the event with only a couple of gaps in the rain.

My strategy for days like this is to wear gear that can get wet and stay wet and remain comfortable. Chafing can be a problem when you are saturated. (*Editor’s warning – too much information) So, I opt for lycra undies with legs (Jockey Performance)*, lightweight bushwalking pants that don’t absorb water and an orienteering top that won’t chaffe. To stay warm I simply plan to work hard. Team mate John, went for a stay dry strategy and wore a poncho for most of the event. I find that I sweat so much inside any sort of rain covering that I get equally wet, sticky and smelly. I was amused at John’s attempts to keep his feet dry during the early part of the event until I assured him that no matter how hard he tried, his feet were going to get wet and stay wet, and that his efforts to keep his feet dry were just slowing us down. I am not sure how other people fare, but my feet seem to survive equally well being wet or dry, providing that I dry them out properly after the event.

The closest Bureau of Meterology gauge, at Terrey Hills, recorded 44mm of rain during the event, so if you were wet you know why. I think this was probably the wettest event, in which I have competed, although the 2016 Catherine Hill Bay and the 2015 Mill Creek events both come to mind as being very wet events.


I am not a huge fan of leeches, mainly because they make me itch uncontrollably for a couple of days after being bitten. The first aid team (thanks Dale and Nihal) were kept very busy removing leeches from people and they had quite a collection of leeches in a bucket, that had been removed from various parts of rogainers.

The leech bucket

There were people dripping blood everywhere and the place would have looked like a slaughterhouse except for Justine and others going around and mopping the blood off the floor. Aside from the blood and the leeches in the first aid bucket, there were discarded leeches in the showers, around the gym floor and on the playground outside. I think a few Killarney Heights High students are going to enjoy our second hand leeches tomorrow. It always amuses me when people get horrified because they have a leech on them. Rogainers are cut from a different cloth and the number of leeches and the amount of blood you were dripping was more of a badge of honour than a source of distress.

Most people’s feet looked a bit like this.

Creek Crossings

The creek crossings were getting pretty exciting during the last couple of hours of the event. The creek at 50 looked at bit perilous to cross at about 3pm and I had a bit of excitment when I tried to cross the creek SW of 80 a few minutes later. The creek had a thin log across it. I planned to cross with the log downstream of me so if the current knocked me off my feet I would have something to hang onto. This was a sound strategy on paper, but my first step into the creek was ankle deep, my second was almost over my head. I spent a good minute trying to find a foot hold to try and climb out with but eventually gave up and just used my hands to pull myself back up onto the ledge I had unwittingly stepped off. Having realised my strategy was much better on paper than in real life, on my second attempt I crossed the creek by walking on a small log that I hoped was not going to give way under my weight and, while a bit risky, this worked nicely.

The Results

Congratulations to Jeremy Fowler and Keelan Birch for being overall winners with an impressive 2,720 points and narrowly beating Xanda Kolesnikow and Ivan Koudashev who were only 20 points behind on 2,700. Also congratulations to Gill Fowler and Jonathan Worswick for winning the Open Mixed as well as the Mixed Veterans’ and for coming third in the open event with 2,620 points.

Ovreall Winners Keelan Birch and Jeremy Fowler – Great Work Guys
Congratulations to the Family Winners – Team 52 Mark Freeman, Oliver Freeman, Alton Freeman with an impressive 1,950 points

Also congratulations to me and team mate John for beating nemeses Julian Ledger and team mate Ted Woodley. I am sure there will be some communication during the week about who executed the best course, but from where I sit writing this I suspect that going east was a better option than going west.

Me and John

Thanks to everyone involved in making today happen. I had a great time and the rain and the leeches just made the event more memorable and the post event stories bigger and more interesting.

4 Responses

  1. I think John deserves commendation on how many leeches he brought into the finish. Every time we picked one off another appeared. He left covered on band aides and betadine and all the while he kept smiling!

  2. Great wrap on the event Chris. Beating ’round the bush in the wet when it’s not cold and windy is truly an ‘immersive’ experience, as Tristan will attest. The creek crossing SW of 80 claimed a few on their way home. I think that we intersected your course about 5 times during the day, which just highlights how much route choice and balance there was out there – great course setting by Steve. Top event and big thanks to all the volunteers for making it happen.

  3. Fantastic event and great wrap up! Well done on beating Julian and Ted. Please note though we were in Killarney Heights High – not my old high school “The Forest High” (They always made us include the “The” btw)! I left a few leeches in the shower room for the students too!

  4. So, it turns out that we at team 27 had a mispunch at control 79 (or more likely one of us forgot) and really scored another 70 points surpassing team Stevenson and Clancy. However, it then turns out by suspicious coincidence that they also had a mispunch of a 70 pointer at control 74 and so also missed out. We have to concede on this occasion. When you see that flag do not get distracted, punch the control and then tie shoelace, eat muesli bar, adjust clothing or whatever needs doing (in this event included checking if leeches travelling with you were comfortable).
    Ted ‘do or die’ Woodley lived up to reputation by egging us on to get just another one. We almost made it – just 20 seconds overdue.
    The northwest corner of the map was a peaceful place – we saw no-one for 1.5 hours in the middle of the event. Meanwhile 5 million Sydneysiders went about their business. What an amazing city we live in with so many wild places so close.
    Congratulations and thanks to Steve Ryan – for the organisation, the course setting and especially the mapping which included drafting in many tracks. The fire trails, the ones out of bound and the ones that appeared as a trail of breadcrumbs on the map and turned out bushy adventures on the ground.

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