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.
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.
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.