Outcomes from our 2017 Survey

[Due to a server failure in Aug-2019 we have restored this historic post]

Posted on 14/03/2018 by Trevor Gollan

We were most pleased with the number of people who participated in our survey over the summer. Thanks again to all who took the time and effort.  Further comments are always welcome – that’s what this Forum is for…


Tristan White, our Publicity Officer, collated the results and produced the following summary.

NSWRA 2017 Strategic & Planning Survey

We have received 75 responses from our 9-question survey which showed some trends though a lot of variation, which reflects the vast array of people who have competed in the sport.

1. Favourite Events

Analysis

The noted favourite events varied across the board so won’t go into detail describing them. Several noted the ARC as a great event (I concur), and most that flag the 24h events note them to be very memorable, the defining feature of a traditional rogaine in my opinion. Many also flagged the “Karst Irony” event as great in light of the numerous views that rarely exist in our off-track events.

Limitations

This only considered events from the past calendar year, and was limited to the events that respondents entered (which averaged at 2), so doesn’t give a great judgment deciding which events were best. (btw SC=State Champs)

2. Bad Experiences

Analysis

Of 76 respondents, only 12 claimed to have had some form of negative experiences (dismissing two complaints about ACT events) so I don’t think that’s too bad a record. It’s worth noting what these were, and my thoughts to them:

  • As it was our first event, very little connection with the organisers, (ie welcome new participants). Also, so many people (teams) got multiple awards… why? Enter one event and spread the love. We finished in the top 3 in the novice section, but our award was not announced, so we had to follow-up and about 3 months later we had to go and collect our “mugs”, no attempt to get them to us. A poor experience for newbies.

This is disappointing to read that a newcomer feels that way. It’s a pity they did not specify which event. Obviously it’s a reminder that we need to continue to ensure to provide instruction, welcome and inclusion to all newcomers to the sport. This should be reminded to long timers such as ourselves to greet visitors rather than stick in our “rogaine bubbles.” That said, I think it’s usually done well.

  • Insufficient food. (Three people mentioned this and from looking at the events they entered they were all referring to the Cronulla minigaine where I remember the watermelon disappearing as abruptly as Harold Holt. People do notice food quality & quantity and we need to ensure it remains high.)
  • Some rogaines are too long. (#suckitupprincess That’s the nature of the sport.)
  • All rogaines were good although some were a bit far away – it would be good to take that into consideration when planning timing for event. Events that are 1hr + drive from the city would be better on Saturdays with a camping option that night. (It is New South Wales Rogaining Association, not Newcastle, Sydney & Wollongong Rogaining association and the open areas that can be freely accessed are often a while away. I’m assuming that they were referring to PP and something of that distance should have a camping option – though personally think that Saturday arrival/campout works fine.)
  • Good camping spots are always a challenge – but I know you guys are limited as to what can be arranged.
  • The Lake Macquarie Rogaine encouraged kids to come along but I found that the easier course was still a bit too hard and checkpoints were a long distance between each other. Good for adults but a bit too hard for younger kids that are too big to carry. (Important to be realistic about what events can have young children. The fact that the Metrogaine, Minigaine, Paddy Pallin and Socialgaine usually are should be an asset, even if others can’t.)
  • No bad experiences!! But some rogaines I do wish there was another water drop or two (on the long events). I do understand that’s part of route strategy/choice though. (Usually this is done well IMO though I have similar observations. In principle, a refill every 4-5hrs would be good (longer apart at night), meaning we’d want 2 in a 12h and at least 4 in a 24)
  • Nothing that I particularly recall, although I don’t believe that rogaines where it is necessary to regularly/constantly fight the vegetation adds anything to the experience. If anything, my guess is that those types of experiences put people off doing bush / off-track rogaines. (That’s true and it can be an issue in the LM. We’ve tried to avoid this and we need to continue to ensure that a navigational challenge doesn’t become a fight against lawyer vine and the like)
  • Rogaine near Goulburn-Marulan on University Station was good but didn’t like the checkpoints being out in the open. Getting accommodation nearby the night before wasn’t easy. Don’t like the checkpoints being in open paddocks where everyone can see so there is no map reading skill needed. (Not having done the event I can’t judge but it’s a fair criticism.)
  • There was no camping at the Paddy Pallin Rogaine (This seems to be a sore spot – 4 of our 12 criticisms mentioned it.)
  • The heat on the socialgaine was a struggle – much more exposed than last years more bush focussed event. But calling it a “bad” experience is a bit of a stretch. (As someone who has a personal animus against the heat I wholeheartedly agree. With these events (SG and the MG) taking in the heat of the day from 9-3 on the fringes of summer is not a good idea.)
  • The rogaining itself is always good between all 3 associations. The entry fees between each association varies significantly though and this year became a contributing factor for me in terms of which events I went to or whether I even did them at all, eg: NSWRA charged the same price for the 6 hr as the 12hr and same again with the 8hr being charged the same as the 24hr. $100 for an 8 hr event was a massive turnoff. VRA charged $45 for their 24hr event compared to $100 by NSWRA. (We generally aim to minimize the cost, but it does seem to vary from event to event. Perhaps we should standardize these across the year? $100 for an 8h event is excessive, but I also recognize that providing for a 6/12h entrant is usually the same wrt catering, equipment use, HH access etc.)
  • I really don’t like when setters set with loops in mind, or use roads and tracks to ease their job. As a setter I know it’s tempting but as a competitor I think it kills the sport. Unmarked thick scrub near controls (Mt Werong NE corner) or too much elevation just for the sake of difficulty doesn’t appeal to me. Same with too many tracks. In that sense, the ACT champs was a bit of nightmare since it had both (walking along the beach at night was magical, though). (A matter of preference IMO. But for sanctioned bush events, focus should be made to ensure competitors access the CPs through good navigation rather than speed, whether it be following spurs and gullies, or pacing along a track to an attack point for the CP 100m away (out of sight), particularly where the scrub is thicker. Some people (myself included) like climbing. Not sure what they mean by “loops” – whether they mean one big course route or small obvious loops within a bigger course.)
  • The LM course could have been designed better – having the winners clear the course with an hour to spare indicates it should be longer. And the fact that top two teams did exactly the same route (albeit in the opposite direction) indicates that there should have been greater effort to remove obvious route choices. I found the SG too hot and dull – the warm conditions were exacerbated by the sun shining off the bitumen (which 75% of the course was on). It too closely resembled an orienteering event, where I believe a SG should be 75% bush with a few streets to link it up.

Limitations

Only takes the concerns from a sample of the competitors (who actually completed the survey). Presumably, those with extremely negative experiences would be unlikely to be in the FB group, to read the website or newsletters.

3. Reasons for absence

Analysis

The single most cited answer was that our events clashed with other activities, with only a few noting that they are too expensive (and none that said they didn’t enjoy it at all!) and that they only enjoy certain types of events. Clashes will be a reality, and there isn’t any way around it, but we can make an effort not to put them the same time as other notable events (C2S, adventure races and other ARA events), as well as days such as Mother’s/Father’s Day.

It’s hard to read the graph; here’s the categories:

  • I did them all
  • Clash with other activities
  • Events too far away
  • Too expensive
  • Don’t enjoy other types (of rogaines)
  • Too much toll on my body
  • Can’t find team mates
  • Let me be frank, …
  • Other

Limitations

Those who are more frequently unable to make the events are less likely to have done the survey (and more likely to not enjoy the sport at all, or find it too expensive for what they get out of it)

4. Preferred Type of Event

Analysis

As expected there’s a wide variety of preferences for type of event, though an obvious number flagged 6-8h off track events, and more people than not preferenced off-track events – rogaining in its most traditional form!

It’s hard to read the graph; here’s the categories:

  • 3-4hr urban
  • 6-8hr urban
  • 6-8hr bush (on track)
  • 6-8hr bush (off track)
  • 12hr bush (on track)
  • 12hr bush (off track)
  • 24hr bush (off track)
  • Other

“Other” preferences or notes included:

  1. Events between 12 & 24h, including 15 in 24
  2. 3-4hr bush events
  3. Urban event must have a significant bushland component.
  4. Night only event
  5. Options to do on or off track depending on whether kids have had enough bush bashing

5. Additional events

Analysis

Over three quarters of respondents would try to attend additional events (which doesn’t mean they will in reality).

6. Event Variants

Analysis

Three quarters of respondents would be happy to see a variant of some form enter the calendar, with the primary suggestions being more novelty events, and a cyclegaine, the way ACTRA and VRA have. Over a third of respondents would also be keen to see an adventuregaine.

It’s hard to read the graph; here’s the categories:

  • Cyclegaine
  • Paddlegaine
  • Adventure race
  • Novelty style
  • No
  • Other

Other suggestions/comments included:

  1. Snowgaine
  2. I like all these ideas. Although I would ensure the core nav discipline is retained
  3. Cyclegaine would need to be on road or track (not bush tracks that are single track)
  4. Would like to see nav skills workshops. (Good news for you!)
  5. Other companies offer these things. Stick to high quality bush rogaines (this is true in some cases and we should check this each time a variant is held.)
  6. They all sound good BUT, NOT at the expense of the usual program of events
  7. Climbgaines! (How would that work?)
  8. Teams event? Something like the 16hr in 24hr, but with 2 teams. Say a max/min split on team time of 10hr/6hr etc. I like the idea of including puzzles/problem solving to “flatten” the fitness advantage – test run at an urban event? (Don’t really understand this.)
  9. Family or kid-friendly events… I plan on doing many (but not all) of my future rogaines with my kids and they love it. It would be great to make the events more kid friendly… or even just add awards for kids who reach certain milestones.

7. Volunteering

“I don’t have time” is the most common response, or “I don’t compete in enough to justify,” and with the average respondent entering 2/year that’s understandable.

It’s hard to read the graph; here’s the categories:

  • I already volunteer
  • I don’t compete in enough rogaines
  • I don’t have time
  • I can’t find a role that suits
  • I volunteer to other sports

A selection of the comments includes:

  1. Not sure how if it’s possible, but if I could volunteer for a couple of hours only I would be more available for volunteering. I do so few events, because of clashes with family commitments. However, the commitments often just make me unavailable from the entire Rogaine. I could still help out for a few hours. The only other problem is the long distance to travel.
  2. Provide more information about specific jobs and their expected time frame especially jobs with the least amount of time commitment. I’d really like to help more and have collected CPs after races but when travelling significant distances to get to events and with family commitments it helps to understand what you may be signing up for as a volunteer. Jobs that are able to be done by participants in the event would be great.
  3. Offer a more formalised or written guide to volunteers. Past volunteer experience felt like left on our own to sort out what and how to do it, and cop any flack if it’s not what was expected.
  4. If I was aware of small ways I could volunteer then I think I would. (There’s a good chance this is written by someone somewhere and I just haven’t seen it!)
  5. Describe some of the roles that are needed and whether they conflict with competing in that Rogaine
  6. Maybe a discount on other events (Yes, well this is done, but perhaps we could consider a discounted entry if they don’t qualify for a free entry.)
  7. Volunteer social nights to get to know the other people we’ll be working with (Volunteer weekend away?)

8. Other Suggestions

The “other suggestions” section, predictably, had a whole range of ideas, including the following. It was encouraging to see many suggestions that we are already doing, such as nav workshop, and planning to do.

  • Better promotion, both online & in print – seems to be a hotspot, 10 people said this.
  • Consider a way to respond to the increased spate of extreme heat which could be present in November/February.
  • Cheaper Entries
  • The photos of people having fun at the events are great. Especially including people of all ages and abilities to show how inclusive it is
  • Wish you would offer solo entries for 6-hr events.
  • Perhaps offer a 2 hour beginners course, where an experienced rogainer could take a group out for a couple hours and teach the skills of rogaining (Nav Workshop)
  • Cross-pollinate with adventure racing / trail running people and maybe consider a ‘multisport’ weekend with some of these groups
  • It would be great to have more details earlier – including the cost
  • Love the improvements you are making. Continue to promote bring your own cups, plates etc to be environmentally aware – don’t provide plastic plates!
  • Consider changing the sports name. Most people think it is a hair growth product. (Sorry guys, we didn’t name it, maybe have a word with the founders)
  • About 3 hours, solo entry, in a natural environment, would be perfect for me personally…. (Bring on the Scheyville Minigaine!)
  • Do more intro to newbies, and support. I find the experienced people chat and give each other advice on ways to select routes, and things like that, where newbies get ignored, and have to fend for themselves. (Same in Orienteering circles too). Tips for becoming better, (route choices, distance expectations, etc). 1 x 3 hr Minigaine every 6-8 weeks would be great. As mentioned. Why should a team be 2nd in 1 division and 1st in other… maybe too many divisions. Why not a handicap system, as well, so fairer to all competitors, like golf. Scratch and net scores if you know what I mean. More refreshments at the end for those who return late. I probably have more, but can only think of these now. Good luck and thanks for letting us provide feedback.
  • I think you focus too much on serious competitors. Outsiders and people in it for fun can find it hard to work out what the events might be like.
  • It would be nice to have a saved profile for a team or for individuals. We always enter the same team and it is pretty tedious having to type in all the details every time.

2 Responses to Outcomes from our 2017 Survey

  1. Anonymous (or Chris pretending to be anonymous) says: 17/03/2018 at 10:58 am

I am disappointed with the choice of the tag #suckitupprincess for several reasons.

Firstly, as someone who identifies as intersex on occasion I find the choice of princess distasteful. Why couldn’t it have been prince? Additionally, I find the term prince or princess offensive as it suggests not ready or fit to rule. Also this is ageist since prince and princesses are normally young, I think #suckituproyalfamilymember would have been more appropriate.

Having said this, I am a republican so I decry the use of regal terms and symbols and would have preferred #suckitupcitizen. Thinking on this though, we can’t count illegal immigrants as citizens so perhaps #suckituppeople would have been better.

I also feel that it is unfair to use the term “suck” when “blow” gets such a bad rap. So rather than use the term suck or blow I think the tag should have been #relocateusingpressuredifferentialpeople.

Having now had a chance to reflect on the whole discourse if I really wanted to affront people who find rogaining too hard I would suggest the tag #orienteer.

  • Ronnie says: on 18/03/2018 at 2:41 pm

Thanks for analysing and publishing the results of the survey!
I would suggest reacting as a committee with more objective viewpoints than the view of just one (with all due respect to the president), hence avoiding judgmental input like in the infamous hashtag affair.
I feel explaining the reasoning behind some decisions, e.g. pricing, will probably help people understand that the association is trying hard to do the right thing, but is limited by external constraints. Then a constructive discussion can ensue.
Thanks again!

My Wrap of the Navigation Workshop at Rydal, 14-15 Apr 2018

[Due to a server failure in Aug-2019 we have restored this historic post]

Posted on 16/04/2018 by Chris Stevenson

Gertrude and Wind

The navigation workshop was just great fun. Many newbies and some experienced rogainers learned how to improve their skill of bush navigation from some of our sport’s pros. For my part I was one of the coaches and despite 24 years of rogaining I also learned a few things from the sport’s real pros.

My wife, Dianne, and good friend John Clancy volunteered to do the catering and we arrived late on Friday night and started unloading food from the car into the kitchen at the Rydal Showground. As soon as the kitchen door was opened, in popped Gertrude, the campground’s pet sheep. Apparently no one told Gertrude that we had hired the Campground for the weekend, because according to Gertrude if the kitchen door is open it was her right to be in there. We must have ejected Gertrude from the kitchen about a dozen times. Gertrude was also trying to make friends with our dog Maple. Maple is a cavoodle and about 1/20th the size of Gertrude and was quite wary of this huge woolly thing that was trying to make friends.

Gertrude checking out the intruders in her kitchen

We eventually unloaded all of our food and ejected Gertrude one more time and went to bed. The next exciting thing that happened was that a huge wind followed by a brief rain storm thundered across the campground. Thankfully, Di, Sophie, my 11 year old daughter, and I had decided to camp inside the hall and were not out in the wind storm in a tent. I am sure those who stayed in a tent on Friday night were very concerned about being blown to Mudgee while still in their tent. The wind raged all night and I am sure those in a tent probably got little sleep.

Saturday

Saturday morning broke and the 50+ participants and 15 coaches arrived at the Campground and coaches and teams were matched up. The first exercise was held east of the showground in a mix of natural bush and pine forest. After a brief chat about compasses and navigation basics we set off hunting for controls. The path to the first control we selected was made unusually difficult by a mess of fallen pine trees in the gully. I have been rogaining at Rydal several times and it is lovely open forest which is almost perfect for rogaining but navigating this mess of fallen pine trees was not what I had planned for the day. It seems I should not have worried since once we had bagged the first control we moved away from pine tree hell and into some lovely open forest.

Joel Mackay showing what he carries in his pack for a 24 hour rogaine

My team of coachees were very fast learners and after the first couple of controls they were taking compass bearings and heading off into the wilderness like seasoned pros. After a couple of hours of this we returned to the hash house to be lectured by a couple of our sport’s elite athletes. Gill Fowler spoke on the theory and practice of navigation and Joel Mackay spoke about what food and equipment to take on a rogaine.

I am sure everyone found these talks fascinating. I was reminded by Gill about “aiming off”. This is something I plan to put in practice in future rogaines. I was also fascinated by Joel’s talk on what to eat and what to carry. Until Joel’s talk I was a keen advocate of carrying sports drink in my hydration bladder. Having learned that it probably makes no difference, I will, in future, be content just carrying water.

Read more about aiming off here…

Night Navigation and Nine Nightmares

After Joel’s talk the participants were all invited to measure their stride length in preparation for a night navigation exercise and after dinner we set off. Navigating at night time can be quite daunting for newbies, so I was keen to make the experience a good one.

We found the first control with relative ease and heading towards control number “9”. When arrived at where I thought control 9 should have been, we found other teams but no control. My team had navigated straight for the control so we had to eliminate the possibility of it being further up or down the gully. Once we had eliminated both of these possibilities, I doubted my own navigation skills and we headed to the next gully to check if we had pulled up short. I was thinking “Great coach I am, I cannot find a control only 300 metres from the last one in a reasonably well defined gully”.

We still didn’t find the control and at this stage, I knew it was my mistake and we headed for a known feature, a fire trail and track junction, to try again. This time I was making sure that our bearing and pace counting was perfect and a few minutes later we arrived at the exact same spot with no control in sight. By this stage I had to face up to the fact that I was rubbish at night navigation or the flag was not where it should be. There were other teams about, so I left my team standing in the dark while I sought out the other coaches to ask them if they had found the control. Having spoken to Ted Woodley and Joel Mackay both of whom could also not find the control we determined that the control was indeed not where it should be and we headed off to try a different control.

In hindsight, this was probably a really good lesson in what to do when you cannot find a control and it even occurred to me that perhaps this was some sort of sadistic test Gill had set for us. The reality was a little more mundane because the control has simply been hung in the wrong gully. I was very pleased by my team’s quick learning and after the fiasco with control number 9 they quickly found a couple of difficult controls in the pitch black and everyone’s confidence, including mine, was restored.

My Scary Experience

I am not often scared rogaining at night, but this night proved to be an exception. When we got near one of the controls I thought I could see movement behind one of the trees. Normally, I would just pass this off as an animal, but the movement was human height and seemed to be staying behind the tree. I am over 6 foot tall, male and almost 100kg, so I am not usually the timid type, but having someone watching you from behind a tree late at night, in the middle of the bush, has got to ring some alarm bells. I was wondering whether Ivan Milat had been let out early, when all of a sudden Mike Hotchkis popped out from behind the tree and scared several precious years from my remaining life.

It seems that Mike had set his team the task of finding this particular control unaided and was going to surprise them when they eventually found the control. Mike is a fine athlete and an outstanding rogainer. In real life Mike is lovely and not a very scary person at all, but what would you think when someone is clearly hiding and watching you from behind a tree, in the forest, in the pitch black?

Falnash Forest

The next morning we headed out for another practice session in Falnash Forest near Wallerawang. I hadn’t been walking in Falnash Forest before and it was a really lovely experience. It is gently undulating, open forest, perfect for rogaining. My team were now behaving like rogaining pros and we bagged control after control with no navigational missteps. I was quite proud of my coachees when they found a control on a poorly defined broad ridge about 400m away from the nearest well defined point.

Here is our well deserved selfie having bagged a difficult control

After Falnash Forest we headed back for lunch and a three hour minigaine starting from the hash house. We were all tired by this stage and we were more interested in navigation than point scoring for this event. Our navigation for this event was good but we were let down by our route choice and ended up getting only 60 points and then lost 30 of these by being 3 minutes late back. At the end of the day the point of the weekend was learning navigation and I sensed that my team were now pretty confident of their abilities.

Capable People

  • Rogainers, as a general rule, are capable and intelligent people and I am continually impressed by their willingness to help and to solve problems. A lot of people put a lot of time and effort into a weekend like this to make it a success, and we come to expect this, but I am still continually surprised by how people just pitch in and get the job done. Some examples were:
  • Andrew Duerden, who had also volunteered as coach, listened to me ranting about how much I hate barbequing at close to midnight and volunteered to get up a 5:30am to take the task off my hands. Andrew cooked bacon and eggs for 70 people with a great deal of skill and good humour.
  • Ronnie Taib, also there as a coach, spent every spare moment he had washing up and otherwise helping in the kitchen.
  • I also must acknowledge the efforts of my wife, Di, and good friend John Clancy who spent the whole weekend doing nothing but feeding 70 hungry rogainers. The food was fabulous and more closely resembled a restaurant than a rogaine.
  • Mike Hotchkis, Toni, Smiffy and Phil Titterton who, after a long and tiring weekend of walking, happily disappeared into the bush, once more, to pick up controls by themselves for a few hours.
  • Thanks also to Richard Sage for bringing the catering trailer to the event. Not only did he have to drive across the mountains towing a heavy trailer, which is an unpleasant task, but towing the trailer means that he has to be one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave.
  • I don’t know all the names of the people that helped. Some women I didn’t recognise cut veggies for 70 with the speed and skill of a Michelin chef. Gary Roberts was also a regular presence in the kitchen doing what he could, including the unpleasant task of taking home bags of rubbish for disposal.
  • I also need to acknowledge the 15 coaches who willingly gave up their weekend to share their skills with others.
Ronnie, Gary and Andrew helping out in the kitchen

The final thanks must go to Gill. Without Gill’s efforts the event simply would not have taken place. I am continually impressed by the generosity and capability of the rogaining community.


3 Responses to My Wrap of the Navigation Workshop at Rydal

  1. Michael Watts says: 16/04/2018 at 5:56 pm

That was some wind – we were in tents. The travails of course-setting … on Friday night we thought we’d be lucky not to wash down the creek in the rain. On Saturday night we thought that we were lucky we were already in Oz.
Plenty of trees down along the fire trail on the way out, and one near miss for a setter as a branch gave up the fight to stay attached to the rest of its tree.

  • Andrew Duerden says: 17/04/2018 at 8:26 am

I have competed in a lot of rogaines over the past few years but had two events this last weekend that I won’t forget in a hurry. Firstly, whilst coaching a team we had a very large gum tree explode, break in two and crash down a few meters in front of us. Thank god the wind was blowing from behind us else the weekend would have been less five rogainers for sure. Secondly, whilst collecting flags by myself I came upon a beautiful brumby mare. Having learnt from my daughter to sit down in a submissive posture, I did so and after 10 minutes she came within a few meters of me. Amazing!

  • Carolyn Rigby says: 19/04/2018 at 11:27 am

Sounds like a fantastic and very productive weekend – and the epitome of rogaining and rogainers. It is truly a privilege to be on the periphery of the sport. Great initiative.

Elementor #235

Ian and Trev reminisce – 40 years of rogaining

(from Trevor Gollan, 23 Aug 2019) For 40 years Ian Dempsey has been a regular rogainer and in the 80’s and 90’s had a vital role in organising and promoting the sport in NSW. I first met Ian in 1988 but this year was the first time we’ve teamed together to compete, at the 2019 Paddy Pallin, Upper Colo.  We did OK too if you ignore the 20-25 minute late-penalty. Perhaps we can blame that lateness because we talked almost all the way.  Here follows some of the conversation from our 6-hour walk.  It includes the reminiscences of a some

Read More »

World Rogaining Champs 2019 Wrap-up

(from Tristan White, 18 Aug 2019) Last month we had six NSW teams proudly represent us at the World Rogaining Championships in La Molina, Spain on the 27–28th July. We congratulate all teams for making this great journey across the world and completing the event, with NSW (and honorary NSW teams) teams listed below (full results can be found here): Julie Quinn & David Baldwin (Quinn Baldwin ACTRA) 349pts*, 1st XV, 2nd XO, 17th OA Mike Hotchkis & Jonathan Worswick (Ossifrages) 286pts, 1st MSV, 12th MV, 25th MO, 53rd OA Ronnie Taib & David Williams (Turtles) 275pts, 42nd MO, 65th

Read More »

Ian and Trev reminisce – 40 years of rogaining

(from Trevor Gollan, 23 Aug 2019)

For 40 years Ian Dempsey has been a regular rogainer and in the 80’s and 90’s had a vital role in organising and promoting the sport in NSW.

I first met Ian in 1988 but this year was the first time we’ve teamed together to compete, at the 2019 Paddy Pallin, Upper Colo.  We did OK too if you ignore the 20-25 minute late-penalty.

Trevor Gollan & Ian Dempsey (at right) at the start of the 2019 Paddy Pallin Rogaine (Photo: Geoff Peel)

Perhaps we can blame that lateness because we talked almost all the way.  Here follows some of the conversation from our 6-hour walk.  It includes the reminiscences of a some old-time rogainers, some memory loss, and some provocative thoughts about the future of the sport.

Of course I
asked Ian about how he started in the sport…

Ian: In 1980 Bert Van Netten persuaded me to enter a 24-hour bushwalking event at Armidale, along with another Novocastrian, Robin Dean. This was a few years before a NSW Rogaining Association existed, when NSW intervarsity bushwalking events were held occasionally and they were open to members of the public. Publicity for these events (beyond the university network) was very low-key and usually involved passing on event details to key people in like-minded organisations like bushwalking and orienteering clubs.

Bert had competed in a Victorian rogaine, was brimming with confidence, and at least had some experience in this kind of event. Robin and I came from an orienteering background. We had trouble finding the first checkpoint and had to jettison our plan to drop into the Georges River valley and climb to the plateau beyond. As I recall, we visited no more than a few checkpoints before dark and returned to the Hash House for a sleep, before getting a few more checkpoints the next morning.

The organisers had arranged a bus to transport us to the event site from Armidale. On the way back, I remember sitting behind Rob Vincent (orienteering icon and occasional rogainer) and his rogaining partner Ray Dawes. They won the event.  Rob was in a talkative state and as we drove by some open farmland with scattered massive granite boulders he enthused to Ray how great this area would be for a night orienteering event with its complex feature detail without the undergrowth. I couldn’t get over how energetic this guy was after 36 hours without sleep and a solid 24 hours of walking. But the overall weekend experience for me was positive, I think because of the camaraderie of fellow competitors and the intense enjoyment of navigating through forest to successfully locate a checkpoint.

Until the establishment of NSWRA in 1983, the only way to get a regular rogaining fix was to travel to Victoria where the sport had been successfully running maybe four events a year. Small groups of NSW bushwalkers and orienteers made the trip in the early 80’s and were impressed with the quality of the event organisation. I’ve got a copy of the map specially produced for the 1983 Australian Rogaining Championships in Victoria. You’ll note that checkpoint locations still needed to be plotted using supplied grid references (like we still do at NavShield) and the 1:50,000 scale allowed only larger landform features to be used for checkpoints. Nevertheless, it is a highly legible map (produced via hand-drawn drafting film layers for each colour and an offset printer) that compares very well with the quality of the CAD-produced rogaining maps we rely on today.

Aus Champs map from 1983

Trev: I recall meeting you when setting the Winter 12-hour at Yetholme [see Newsletter 17b, Aug-1988].  One of my favourite memories was camping on a Saturday night with you, Warwick and Maurice Ripley … after my first-ever day course-setting;  a mild, clear night, a campfire by a fire-trail on the big ridge south of the village, >1200m altitude … yes, that’s a good memory!  You were the event organiser.  That on top of you organising the Paddy Pallin only two months before – the year you extended it from 3½ to 6 hours.  You were pretty essential to NSW rogaining in those days.

Ian: I have a vague recollection of that camp experience. I also have a vague recollection of one of you explaining that someone intended to complete the event with their girlfriend/partner and to take chicken and a bottle of champagne for an evening meal at a spot with great views. At the time I thought this was a bit strange; why would anyone enter a rogaine without wanting to be competitive?

Trev: The chicken & champers picnicker was Peter Watterson.  He also wore a coat and bow-tie, out to impress.

Ian: The other memory I have of that time is meeting you at a service station on the highway near Yetholme for a chat before we separated to visit and tape checkpoint sites. You were new to rogaining but were kindly getting involved with event planning and organisation. After several years of struggling to find new event organisers, Bert and I were grateful to see you, Warwick, Julian and others pick up the baton. Indeed, NSWRA flourished in the late 80s and early 90s because of the injection of many new course setters and organisers.

Trev: Peter Watterson refers to you as “a machine” at the 1990 Copeton Dam NSW Champs, both physical and navigational.  What’s your memory of that event?  I’ve rogained with Watto many times and know he can be extreme, so I’m interested in your perspective.

Ian: The truth is that Watto had the physical edge on me at the NSW Champs in 1990 and the 1991 Paddy Pallin events, both of which we won. He impressed me with his use of high-tech string to measure and compare the distance between different routes.  I soon after bought a measuring wheel.

I have several memories of Copeton. First, we’d been warned about the Tiger Pear cactus. Yes, some penetrated my runners and yes, I removed them with my fingers and got spines in my fingers because we hadn’t brought pliers with us. Second, in the hour before dusk we had a navigationally challenging forest leg of about 3km across several watercourse systems to a saddle on a ridge. I wasn’t confident about this leg, but Watto was more confident than me and we hit it straight on in fading light with good compass work.

Third, we walked down a track to the river soon after daybreak on day 2 through some trees with what seemed like 100+ cockatoos. Their screeching was so intense it became painful. Finally, soon after we had an unavoidable leg of about 500m through a gorge littered with large boulders. I was knackered getting through this.

Peter Watterson accepts the winners trophy at 1990 NSW Champs, Copeton Dam. No-one knows why Ian wasn’t available for the preso.

(I later, separately, checked the story with Watto, who responded: Memories that emerge from the mists of time include a half hour kip just before dawn by some haystack and that quixotic battle against giant boulders along the river bed. The compass leg would stand out in Demps’ memory, because he generally never bothered with such high tech devices (not even string). Certainly on the Paddy Pallin, I don’t think the compass ever left his back pocket whereas I consult mine probably every minute. I’ve just found my old Copeton Dam map and will look at the notes I texta’d on the map after the event:- at our first checkpoint, “tiger pears!”; 54 -> 61 “Ian’s smart route”; on the Gwydir River 57->52 “I saw platypus!”, then “sword grass”, then “boulders”. What a pleasure to reminisce on fitter days!)

Back to Ian: It’s around this time that there was an influx of fit and competitive NSW rogainers that soon overtook Watto and me. My brush with fame was winning an ACT Championships in the early 90’s with Mike Hotchkis. I teamed up with him later in the same year in a NSW Socialgaine but really slowed him down. Regardless, one of the great attractions of rogaining is that it’s a team sport and so it allows a shared experience – lacking in our closest comparable sport, orienteering.

Trev: Have you done many rogaines outside NSW?  I’m reminded that you, Bert and Arthur Kingsland competed in the 1988 Aus Champs at Honeysuckle Creek in the Victorian Strathbogies. (And looking further I see that you were disqualified – I’d forgotten that – what happened?  Ahem – we came 5th btw!)

Ian: Can’t remember this one. If we did something illegal at the event, then I’ve erased it from my memory.

Trev: I haven’t noticed you at NSW Champs much lately. Perhaps the last time was when you were an organiser – at Garland Valley back in 2013.  Are you, like many NSW rogainers, averse to 24-hour events too?  Or is it the distance from Newcastle?  The last three years have been beyond Oberon, which is great rogaining country but a fair way to travel.

Ian: Haven’t competed in the longer events for some time because I can tend to be more competitive than I should, and being competitive in the longer events is extremely physical and psychologically tiring. It takes me a week or more to recover. Also, I don’t enjoy camping much. At age 65, the 6-hour events are just the right length for me. I can go hard if my partner and I want, but these days I’m just as happy to walk more slowly and solve world problems in conversation with rogaining partners.

In recent years, I’ve been enjoying my orienteering more, perhaps because of the shorter events. Since retirement, I’ve got more active with producing orienteering maps. Our orienteering club has recently purchased a computer tablet that I’m using in the field for mapping and it’s greatly improved my mapping efficiency. I quite like mapping – the combination of discovering stuff, being in the great outdoors, and the challenge of interpreting features in the field into a 2-dimensional format that can be meaningful to others.

Trev: I’m interested in your views about the sport – how we’re going and future directions.  We pulled together a Strategic Plan last year, with significant feedback from our members.  At the moment we are moving towards more, shorter events … which perhaps means they don’t deserve the moniker “event” anymore, and we’re moving closer towards orienteering.  The lack of people at NSW Champs worries me, then again the Europeans can easily get 1,000 to the World Champs.

Ian: Like you, I worry about the ongoing viability of the 24-hour NSW Champs. On the one hand, there is limited demand for this event. On the other hand, many would say we have at least an historical obligation to continue the event. However, as past organisers, we both know how discouraging it can be to put in all the additional work for a long-distance event to find under 200 people showing up on the day and the event running at a financial loss.

Trev: We receive regular requests to have individual entry, and committee decided last year that solo rogaining won’t be available if an event is longer than 3-hours.  Which does mean solo entry is OK in the 3-hour Minigaine, not much different to a long-O score event, on a less accurate map and with some nibblies at the end.

Ian: It’s generally acknowledged that the word “rogaine” is an amalgam of the initial letters of the three Victorians who were responsible for formalising the sport in the late 70’s … Rod, Gail & Neil Phillips. Perhaps they did this oblivious to or, more likely, prior to the naming of the US hair restoration product. Regardless, it’s understandable that this core Victorian group had a close interest in how rogaining developed in other states. I recall some pushback from them when we adopted the Paddy Pallin 3½-hour in 1985, and called it a rogaine, because previous events had always been 12 or 24 hours involving night navigation.

Fast forward to 2019 and many things have changed. We now understand the benefits of high-intensity short-duration training in producing health outcomes comparable to longer-duration exercise. Why bother with a long workout when a short one will do? People are “time-poor”.  We now run a preponderance of shorter rogaining events (i.e. Metrogaine, Minigaine, Socialgaine) on the NSWRA calendar. Which leads me to ask the following questions:

  • When does a rogaine become an orienteering event?
  • Given the time and usual financial loss involved in running the 24-hour state rogaining championships, and the relatively low participation at these events, why should we continue running long duration events?
  • Should we change the NSW Rogaining Championships from a 24 hour to a shorter event because most NSW rogainers participate in the shorter events?

Trev: That’s sacrilege, Ian, but I wonder what our members think?

My Wrap of the Wingello Wingaine, 12 May 2018

Posted on 13/05/2018 by Chris Stevenson

On Saturday I competed in the Wingello Wingaine and I was very glad I did.

I have competed at Wingello before and I like the area. The bush varies from pine tree plantations to open forest and fight scrub. My partner Julian and I elected to do the 12 hour event, I was very much looking forward to putting my night navigation skills to the test and, wow, were they tested.

Having picked up our maps on Saturday morning, the first thing we noticed was that there were no 90 or 100 pointers on the course and there was only one really easy control on the entire course (Control 21 on a road junction). I think course setter Mike Hotchkis must have been channelling his Scottish heritage because he wasn’t giving any points away. In fact I think Mike had set a couple of the most difficult 20 pointers in rogaining history. There was control 22 which was only 400 meters from the hash house but was in a huge section of pine forest but with no helping features for at least 300 metres. The average time taken to bag control 22 was 18 minutes and 20 secs. I am not sure how many people found this control at night time but they deserve real kudos (and a mental health check for even attempting it). The map also included control number 24 which was only about 80 metres from a fire trail on a supposed knoll. This “knoll”, it turned out, was only about 3mm higher than the surrounding ground. Julian and I forgot to take our micrometre and theodolite and found the control in the dark through sheer luck.

Mike Hotchkis – Course Setter

Soon after the event started so did the rain, in fact it rained for three hours. I had a token raincoat on but it made no difference – I was wet and cold the entire event (and loving it). In fact the warmest I was at anytime during the event was when I fell, waist deep, into the creek between controls 82 and 63.

Julian and I had a very good start. Despite walking at a leisurely pace we were the first team to control 64, via 35 and 46. The wheels fell off a bit when we tried an open country traverse from controls 74 to 83. We spent too long in fight-scrub, travelling about 1 km per hour. We both decided that we were not having fun fighting through this dense scrub so we turned and headed north looking for easier going. Fortunately, we found the going easier once we crossed over the watershed of the ridge and the detour through the thick stuff didn’t end up costing us much. It is interesting that the average time taken for the traverse from 74 to 83 was 1:00:56. That is a long time just to gain 80 points. Once again evidence that Mike wasn’t giving anything away.

I confess I am a pine forest junkie. I like rogaining through pine forest at night. There is something about pine forest navigation that draws me in and I am not really sure why. Perhaps it is the fact that pine forests are usually on relatively flat, featureless ground and it can take real navigational skill to find a control in the middle of a section of pine forest. I was pretty happy with Julian and my navigation skills during this event. We found everything we looked for, which many good teams didn’t, and we scored 40% of our points after dark. Admittedly, things were not perfect. It took us two attempts to bag controls 32 and 31 and as mentioned before we found control 24 by pure luck as we were on our way back to the road to try again. The other thing to note about the event is how lonely it was out on the course. We saw a bunch of people on the creek traverse from control 82 to 63 but other than that we spent most of the day and night alone. Mind you I am not complaining. I like finding the controls with my team mate and not being distracted by other teams. The problem with following other teams is that the “herd” mentality gets to you and you tend to follow rather than rely on your own skills. Julian and I have about 160 events under our belts between us and we really should know better than to try and follow someone else. Having said this I was very grateful to follow another team into control 41 because we got there about 7pm and were both pretty knackered at that stage (we both perked up a bit when we got into the pine forest).

While wandering around last night trying to squeeze points out of Mike’s course, my thoughts turned to the Novices. This was not an easy event for the novices, but I noted that a novice 12 hour team, the Migrating Wombats, scored 850 points. Great job guys. The other thing to note about the course is that it was a great leveller. I think a few of the teams that usually score really well might have found their navigation skills fully tested by Mike’s course.

Mike Hotchkis was ably assisted in the course setting by David Griffith, Ian Almond and Chris Waring. Thanks to all. Julian and I had a really good time testing our navigation skills against this course, in the light and in the dark. If you didn’t take up the 12 hour option at yesterday’s event you missed a great opportunity to test your skills against quite a challenging course.

I can’t wait until the next Wingello rogaine.


One Response to My Wrap of the Wingello Wingaine

  1. Trevor Gollan says: 14/05/2018 at 6:47 pm

Thanks for the interesting report, Chris.

We should clarify that micrometers and theodolytes are not acceptable navigational aids. The official rules stipulate that the “only navigational aids that may be carried on the course are magnetic compasses, watches and copies of the competition map.”

Of course none of those are as important as your brain and senses – especially eyes, ears & common sense.

Partially agree about pine. It’s pleasant walking on the floor of a pine forest, but the navigation tends to be easy due to the road network.

Sorry I missed the event. Having done the previous four Wingello rogaines, I’d have liked to see the area again. There’s always new places to discover, no matter how many times you’ve been there, and different coursesetters provide different perspectives.

World Rogaining Champs 2019 Wrap-up

(from Tristan White, 18 Aug 2019)

Last month we had six NSW teams proudly represent us at the World Rogaining Championships in La Molina, Spain on the 2728th July. We congratulate all teams for making this great journey across the world and completing the event, with NSW (and honorary NSW teams) teams listed below (full results can be found here):

Julie Quinn & David Baldwin (Quinn Baldwin ACTRA) 349pts*, 1st XV, 2nd XO, 17th OA

Mike Hotchkis & Jonathan Worswick (Ossifrages) 286pts, 1st MSV, 12th MV, 25th MO, 53rd OA

Ronnie Taib & David Williams (Turtles) 275pts, 42nd MO, 65th OA

Antoniya Bachvarova & Andrew “Smiffy” Smith (Lost Control) 243pts, 13th XV, 29th XO, 101st OA

Nicole Mealing & Andrew “Brooner” Brown (A Brootal Mountain Adventure) 236pts, 34th XO, 115th OA

Graham Field & Neil Hawthorne (Terrainium) 178pts, 20th MSV, 63rd MV, 127th MO, 226th OA

Richard Sage, Nihal Danis & Dom Pitot (RichardNihalDom) 147 pts, 19th XSV, 96th XO 279th OA

Colleen & Colin Mock (Run Amock, ACTRA) 133pts, 7th XUV, 26th XSV, 66th XV, 113th XO, 309th OA

*Note that scoring in this event essentially scaled down all CPs by a factor of 10. i.e., 20-29 were worth 2 points, 91-99 were 9 points.

Honorary NSWRA members David and Julie on the podium for the Mixed Veterans. A stunning (but unsurprising) result.
Mike (in shade) & Jonathan (in orange) finished on top of the Men’s Super Veterans podium. The 3rd-placed team included legendary Victorian rogainer David Rowlands (in black)

For all the things we love about rogaining, it is arguably the worst sport in the world to watch live, even worse than the Tour de France. But this event had the GPS of each team live-streamed so one could check on team routes and cumulative scores during the event, and even write messages for them to see at the event’s conclusion! You can view the map and each team’s route here.

Of course, a series of scores and rankings don’t do justice to the actual experiences had on that unforgettable weekend, so to help get a feel for what the WRC was, I have asked our entrants to share their experiences, with their words weaved into the portrait below.

Track-the-Race’s interface showing David and Julie’s impressive route.

The Venue

Toni remembers there were a “variety of options for accommodation around La Molina. Some people camped on the grasslands around the event centre. There were a few hotels in La Molina itself, and more villas around the mountains and in the valley towards Puigcerda. A group of us – 15 rogainers from Sydney and Canberra – booked two apartments in a hotel just 700m from the event centre. It was a great opportunity to spend some downtime with fellow rogainers. Also in the same hotel there were a few other familiar faces – it seemed a popular choice amongst Aussie and Kiwi rogainers.”

The Hash House before the start.

The event was set in a ski resort village, and the topography of the map certainly reflected that! Nicole described it as having alpine sections, “which meant big climbs but also open tops (little to no scrub!), forest sections, farm areas and small towns. The challenge was avoiding contours, and linking from the top to the bottom of the map since there was a major road and train line that could only be crossed in a few places.”

The view from David & Ronnie’s balcony
A shot from one of the peaks, taken by Richard pre-event

The Course Area

The course elevation had a range of 1,300m to 2,536m (makes last year’s Abercrombie rogaine seem flat!) so completely avoiding contours was of course not an option, and all teams should be congratulated if they did fewer vertical kms than horizontal ones. In addition to the physical challenge, the altitude added the challenge of thinner air, something Australians are not used to. Jonathan, Nicole and Ronnie all estimated that their respective teams did almost 4km of climbing in about 70-80km.

Steep country means the features are well defined. Ronnie noted that the navigation was “generally easier than say, an ACT course set by the masters Jean and Ron” and there were “pretty extensive track networks making it a running heaven. This was certainly a challenge for us walkers, as we found very few opportunities to save time through cross-country travel, as tracks were usually much faster.”

MOOOve out of the way!

As with many other European states, Spanish rogaining and orienteering operate under the same banner and, as such, Ronnie noted that “the map and features were orienteering-styled, for example ‘the edge of the scrub’ was an acceptable feature. It was an adjustment to have flags hanging 1m or less from the ground, often hidden in trees, and with such unique features as ‘the ruin’ removing the usual risk of picking the wrong gully or spur in subtle terrain.

Julie added that she and David did “grumble a bit about a few controls where they had clearly mapped these features in order to place the control but had not mapped the other boulders/ditches/cliffs etc. nearby.”

Julie & David at the start

Nicole noted that it really was a course that rewarded experienced orienteers. Fortunately for her, her teammate Brooner was one of them!

Nicole just behind a rock overhang – demonstrates the orienteering influence

The Map

Julie remembered that “the map used orienteering colours and the runnability was determined by Lidar. In practice we couldn’t really distinguish in many places what was supposed to be fast and slow going with many white and yellow areas having low juniper and broom impeding progress. Did we mention the hills? If you looked very closely at the map there were, in many places, small contouring tracks that allowed us to minimise the ups and downs.”

The CP descriptions used the official Orienteering symbols and, though there was an English description, it often lacked all these details

Ronnie also noted that this created additional challenges to distinguish features. “The map was so colourful and drowned the contour lines, making it difficult to make out ridges,” he explains. “Some crucial map details required the use of the magnifier on my compass, first time I ever had to use it.”

Similarly Toni and Smiffy told me how they struggled to differentiate the contour lines with the tracks as they had a very similar consistency, and in a couple of cases only found out that they had gone cross-country to a CP where there was in fact a track just below.

The Weather

The weather was crap to start with. Richard remembers: “heavy rain and thunderstorms passing through. It cleared after a couple of hours but we had wet feet, and then strong cold winds on the tops during the night. We had only the minimum clothing for those conditions though the valleys were noticeably milder.”

The nice clear shot of Nihal a few days before the event depicted a very different scene to the wet event itself

Nicole said that it was the “most miserable to start to a rogaining event – there was thunder, lightning and proper downpours during map planning. Thankfully it was only light rain as we went through gear check and into the start pen, where one had to be 20 minutes before the official start. Lightning preceded the starting gun! There were periods of rain and one of hail during the event, and there were strong, chilly winds overnight that got stronger in the morning. So it was tough to stay warm overnight and keep up the team morale. When the sun came up we were still pretty chilly even after climbing a huge hill!”

The Start scene

Jonathan remembers being“quite shocked when Mike had to put on a beanie and gloves at 5am in the morning, because he doesn’t feel the cold.” (I can testify.)

Julie and David recall going to the highest part of the course in the final hours of the event. “It was very windy and cold. We ended up tucking our maps down our jackets so they weren’t blown to southern Spain!” Jonathan and Mike also faced additional challenges from the rain: “There were sections made hazardous due to slippery wet rock and mud. I came a cropper”, said Jonathan, “going down a valley when the side of the stream gave way under me.”

Nicole remembers “stepping into a shelter to put on more clothes at about 1am as we were freezing and having a volunteer ask if we wanted a hot soup. Unexpected but SO GOOD!” Though it wasn’t just the event volunteers that were helping out competitors; Julie remembers a similar highlight when they were “offered pizza from a local in a field near a town about 10 pm. He was very enthusiastic encouraging all the teams coming through.”

Scoring

In this event, the SportIdent system was used, where competitors’ SI sticks were clamped around their wrists (also proving the sport’s close ties with orienteering) using “unremovable” wristbands. Jonathan said that they were a challenge as “the SI card could be hard to locate under cold weather clothing and got twisted around its wrist band.

The SportIdent Scoring System

As Nicole found out, this descriptor was as accurate as depicting the Titanic as “unsinkable.” Brooner recalls the increased excitement and tension:

“When we got to control 29, about 4 hours and 20 minutes into the rogaine, Nicole looked down at her wrist in horror at the realisation that her SI Air wasn’t there anymore. We had to decide what to do as we were now disqualified. Should we hunt for a needle in a haystack (the last leg had all been off track)? Or continue on and pretend it hadn’t happened? Nicole couldn’t narrow down any sections where she knew it was definitely still on her wrist, other than punching the last control (#63). We agreed we’d loop back and re-do the leg from 63 to 29 in the hope that we’d find it. We also agreed to only spend an hour looking.

Nicole continues:“Sadly, we didn’t find it so carried on regardless having lost 50 minutes, which definitely affected our headspace thereafter. Before the next control Brooner had a great idea – why don’t we take a photo of Nicole at every control to prove she’d gone there. He was carrying a camera as our phone was inside a tamper-proof bag. It was cool looking through them all after we finished.”

Nicole & Andrew prove they visited this control

The Organisation

Each region has its own customs and styles, and this certainly was shown in this event. Ronnie described it as “just by scale [no pun intended!] nothing comparable to our local events as it obviously was a large event with sponsors, huge tents and stuff all around… There were a few hiccups but overall I think the organisers did a great job.”

Toni remembered the long list of mandatory gear to be carried:

  • Whistle,
  • Hat or cap which covers the head,
  • Thermal top with long sleeves,
  • Jacket for mountain weather conditions,
  • GPS tracking device provided by organisation (one per team),
  • Emergency blanket (one per team).

Richard noted that “the lunch after the event was a disappointment. Beer and wine were appreciated but the food disappointed,” to which Jonathan added, “I made sure I rehydrated well!”  Perhaps we have it too good here in NSW/ACT?

Ronnie & David at the start

Memories

Nicole says that it was their, “first world champs (in fact the first rogaine outside of NSW or ACT) and it was Brooner’s first 24-hour event, so we were there for the adventure and not to compete. Our challenge was to still be talking to one another after 24 hours.” (Which they succeeded in – well done!)

Ronnie remembered that despite spraining his back just before the start, “we eventually achieved most of what we had planned. A little triumph was keeping up with Julie Quinn and David Baldwin (and others) for as much as ~5min at their frenetic pace, about 23 hours into the event, but then they disappeared ahead!

Julie and David were “pleased that we were able to keep moving strongly through the whole event. We had a low point just on dark when we made a major error and dropped into the wrong gully. It took about 30 minutes to work that one out.” However, despite “some little administrative things that could have been done better”, they thought that “in terms of rogaining it was a good area and a well set course providing lots of route planning challenges.” This is obvious from the vast disparity in the route options as anyone tragic enough to scroll through them will have noticed.

Toni said that she and Smiffy were proud to have completed the 24 hours despite nursing an injury sustained a week and a half before the event during a hike in the Pyrenees. Said Toni, “I couldn’t give it a proper rest or recovery treatment since we were in the middle of our walk. For several days we weren’t sure if I’d be able to do the event since we didn’t know exactly what the injury was. At the end, we decided to make a conservative plan, pick a route that didn’t involve too many steep descents and minimise ups and downs [ha ha].”

Richard notes that “For us, getting everything we went for felt like an achievement. We managed a route that had a good mix of open tops, valleys and spur-gully and not much dense or prickly bushland. I won’t forget the very large Spanish cows sitting, watching and giving us tacit approval to cross their land in the middle of the night as we went past and then back from a control. That, and looking down on the bright lights of French towns during the night. It was a great event and confirms my faith in the sport that non-competitive teams like ours can not only enter, but feel included and enjoy it. I would recommend a WRC to all Rogainers. I’ve been to great places I would never have otherwise seen.”

NSW/ACT teams enjoy a meal together following the event

Speaking of which, the next World Rogaining Championships will be in Sierra Nevada, California, on 1st-2nd August 2020. We would love some teams to represent our fair state there. Check out details here!

Still can’t get enough about the WRC? Check out Kiwi Tane Cambridge’s (one half of the 2nd placed team with a whopping 409 points) blog here!