2013 – A great year for Rogaining in New South Wales

There is a bit of space at the front of our place and for the past few years it has been home to the two rogaining box trailers. They are known affectionately as the Admin trailer and the Catering trailer and act as mobile storage containers for all the stuff it takes to put on a rogaine. They go off to rogaines and then more often than not travel directly on to the next one. Recently, like migrating birds, they have both returned home for the first time since before the Paddy Pallin rogaine in June. This means it is the end of the rogaining year.

What a stellar rogaining year it has been for New South Wales; and I feel I can speak with some authority having made it to all bar one event.  There is a great sense of satisfaction despite a twinge of weary legs at the memory of some of the tougher moments.

Congratulations go to all the organisers and course setters and of course the Committee who provide the coordination and leadership that makes it all happen..

Gareth Denyer’s November Socialgaine Woronorogaine had a myriad of route choice and no shortage of bushy options with route finding to do. Although we missed out on seeing this scenic area on a sunny day, the wet and cool conditions suited our veteran team and the navigation kept us occupied. We were enjoying ourselves so much we were a little late back (91 to HH direct) and could have done with eight hours to do the course justice. The tracks and unmarked tracks were tricky but we had been warned at the start. With the number of controls and route choice the course rarely felt crowded despite over 300 hundred competitors.

The idea of taking the bus/train during the event was appealing but mentions of track work maintenance put us off. The public transport concept was consistent with the original idea of the Socialgaine being an end of year relaxed event to take the kids out for a stroll with early finish for a BBQ. It still has that element and is still social but there are also a fair share of gun teams running hard. That mixture is one of the enduring and endearing features of our sport.

What a contrast were the NSW Championships in October. It was a gutsy decision by Ian, Bert and the other organisers to go ahead despite major bushfires in the Blue Mountains and parched conditions. As it turned out going ahead was the right call and it was an enjoyable event (although we were lucky as the Putty Road was affected by fire a few days later).

We took the plunge and stayed out for the 24 hours with a reasonable nap from 2am to 4am under the big moon. I’ve always found the way to not waste time thinking about going back to the Hash House is to make sure that you are at least 10 km away at midnight and so we were! Water was the challenging issue – not enough of it – and not risking the non flowing Boggy Swamp Creek as per instructions we had to make a big swing back east for water at dusk. After dark the wheels started falling off with some seriously faulty navigation. However, come dawn we started firing again with a climb through the westerly controls. We were down to one map by this stage with the other lost near a log feature christened the bridge of death by partner Chris. Around 10.30am we lost time and missed one control and finished with a long route march back. Returning at 23.57 we definitely got our money’s worth.

Prior to that it was the Lake Macquarie 6/12 hour event where we only had time for the 6 hour.  Overambitious would be the best word to describe our route. At least we went all the way down to the canyon creek and saw what it was like. Then it was a scamper back missing some controls but arriving just in time even if not by a very efficient route. A review of the map showed alternatives which gave a better score with much less effort. It may be that it is the frequent knowledge we could have done better which keeps bringing us back.

At the Paddy Pallin 6 hour rogaine I was an organiser and spent most the day replenishing water drops although consumption was modest in the cool June conditions. I spent time early in the year scoping the course and later vetting controls and also picking them up.  Glenbrook National Park is an old favourite and in 1991 was the home of the first 400 competitors plus Paddy Pallin rogaine. Some years later there was an Upsidedownogaine which started at midnight. The area is deceptive – looks quite modest – but the bush can be challenging and organiser Michael Watts and course setter, Warwick Dougherty, did just that. Especially if you ventured south to some of the thick stuff which in retrospect took too much time for a six hour event.

I was sorry to miss the Bungonia event but had a good run at the three hour Minigaine around  Mosman – a little local knowledge from orienteering maps proved handy in optimising the route choice. Before that it was the Metrogaine up at Swansea. Spectacular coastal scenery but also some great forest legs. I think we took on a bit too much road work which wore the feet and might have better as hard core rogaining sort of people to have chosen more in the bush. The event also featured the spot of the famous water crossing pictured on the website where sad to say we wimped out (team mates mobile phone to protect) and went around the long way. We also did not attempt a channel crossing taken but the winning womens’ team.

Finally I have a question. It arises from those memories of rugged ground, thick bush, sticks down neck and in ears, scratches, 20 metre contours hiding huge features, cliffs, ravines lawyer vines and swamps.

Is rogaining in NSW too hard?

I only ask because I started my rogaining career in Western Australia, have since also rogained in Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory, New Zealand and Canada. All these places had their moments (eg risk of bears (Canada), electric fences (NZ), mineshafts (Victoria), parrot bush (WA) but none was as hard as New South Wales.  Now if the answer is yes or sometimes it is too hard then the solution is not so easy. The way to less thick bush is further west and we know that more kms means fewer entrants. However an appeal to the course setters of 2014 – not too many controls with clues like “Middle of thicket in shallow indistinct gully”

Julian Ledger

Welcome to Rogaining – 2014 style

There’s a large bubble in my compass which has appeared from nowhere over summer.  However as the first two events of the year have both been on tracks it has not yet been an issue.

The Boardwalk Bonanza Minigaine on the 29 March was at 1:10,000 scale and the detail of the Orienteering maps was appreciated as competitors zoomed (at least those doing some running) around the map which took in Boronia Park, East and North Ryde. There were plenty of pockets of bush and no shortage of contours. Course setters Jeremy Fowler and Steve Ryan had done an excellent job and there was sufficient route choice and variety to keep everyone thinking. Winner Andrew Hill got the lot (2750) with 6 minutes to spare and 4 minutes ahead of 2nd placed Richard Mountstephens. Outstanding!  Personally just made it with 30 seconds up my sleeve and many less points.

I only made one real error which arose due to avoiding the NPWS closed track. I cut off Pittwater Road too early and ending up squelching across mangroves to join the boardwalk. With unfortunate timing I was met by President Gill running past – “it’s an on track event Mr Ledger”! Gill, our brave and fearless leader who would not dob in a mate, was first woman and sixth overall with score of 2720.

Somewhat distracting was being repeatedly either overtaken or met by the winning women’s team, Jess Baker and Mel Criniti. They would go past then scamper off to get some additional control and then be going past again always cheerful, brightly coloured in orange and blue.

The event was well subscribed and any concerns that numbers would be down with it being out of the Orienteering Summer Series this year were not realised. In fact with the Summer Series just finished last week there seemed to be even more lycra, strider and 45 minute runner types eating up the ground.

I sometimes smile at the meeting of the social rogaining team and the serious orienteer at the same time and place – usually a control. The rogaining team is rather pleased and even surprised to have found the flag and this is an excuse for a rest. One team member might be starting a bit of lunch, another explaining the features of a rare orchid and a third disappeared in the bushes for a call of nature. Associated infants may be jumping around (first hour) or looking for a carry (end of the event). Meanwhile the orienteer has already, within 50 metres of the control, sorted out something called an ‘exit strategy’. Then on punching is already balanced with weight on the push off foot to take them running in the direction of the next control. The only pause might be to double check the punch has registered as they miss the audible confirmation of the orienteering Sportident system.

Former Australian Rogaining Champion Mike Hotchkis was there and posted an excellent score. His wife Debbie, a more social rogainer, forgot to register the time when her team left and spent the event trying to work out when they had started. They failed and were late back. A highlight for Debbie was being invited into somebody’s garden which she said was remarkable. Meanwhile things might have been a bit tetchy comparing route chose at the Shingler household where both partners scored over 2000 points in individual efforts but with Paula just 30 points ahead of Mark. Just wait until the kids grow even bigger with those genes they’ll be fast for sure.

 If the Minigaine was steamy and the vegetation lush the Metrogaine – Hornsbygaine on February 9th was hot and dry. Some said too hot, hold it later but in fact you never know – had it been on the following Sunday there was a torrential day. The conditions are the same for all and you have to adapt.

Ted Woodley is to be congratulated for the course – nearly all in the bush. This was Ted’s first Metrogaine after terrific service setting the Minigaine for the past three years and building that event’s great reputation.

It was very warm and I had to slow down to deal with it and even took the opportunity for a swim at the delightful rockpool near # 71 taking care to keep head out of water. This brought body temperature down for a while but climbing out of the valley twice soon got me hot again.

It was a tricky question as usual knowing what to leave out. Partner Anne Newman who has a habit of building up speed as an event progresses was striding on as we struggled up the return track which was rough and tough – we had been warned at the start. Past # 83 we speeded up and after some confusion at the last control made it back with three minutes to spare. Super fit Anne had not broken a sweat the whole way.

The use of electronic controls and flags has made a big difference to the administration (managed these days by ever competent Belinda Mclean and Anne Bickle) and now we are getting used to very quick results at the event and on the website. In the good old days we had clues, multiple choice, historical features, debates, ambiguity, letter box removed by a resident (what colour was it if it had still been there!), signs taken down between the vetting and the event, etc etc. I kind of miss that whimsical nature of at least the Metrogaine. Keep in mind the big amount of extra work for course setter, flag hanger and picker upper now that every control must be hung and collected. We are all grateful for your efforts.

  Before the next event on 10 May at Gibraltar Rocks near Jenolan I’m going to invest in a luminescent compass with dampened needle – as I have explained to the family, I could have an expensive hobby like racing hotrods but I don’t and all I need are a few dollars for the best footwear and outdoor gear to be had for use in some remote bush in the middle of the night! Also brig some thermals – I’ve rogained before on that road – it reaches 1200 metres and can get chilly.

 Finally, Webmaster Graeme, surely it is time to remove from the website those photographs of aging rogainers at dawn on some remote mountain top and find some pictures of younger attractive people who may bring more people to the sport. I recommend women’s champs Jess Baker and Mel Criniti!

By the way is there any rogainer out there with search engine optimisation skills who when you google NSWRA can get Rogaining placed ahead of the NSW Rifle Association. Their website is not as good as ours and they probably support hunting in national parks.

Julian Ledger

A Few Good Men (Team 97) and a lot of rain

Chris Stevenson

The 2016 Paddy Pallin did not disappoint. The Bureau of Meteorology delivered the expected amount of rain. It rained 27.8mm during the 6 hours of the event.


Looking around at the start there seemed to be three takes on how to dress for the weather:

  1. Wear very little and go hard to stay warm.
  2. Do what you can to stop the rain from getting in.
  3. Hybrid between 1. and 2. Token raincoat with light weight clothing.

My team mates and I opted for option 3. I must admit I was mildly amused by some teams trying to keep their feet dry jumping little creeks just after the start, my strategy was don’t bother, get them wet and get used to it. In fact the warmest my feet were during the entire event was when a wave washed over them on the traverse between 32 and 74.


Rogainers you have my respect. Out of 204 teams registered, when entries closed for the event, 181 teams competed so only 12% of teams decided to spend their day in a cafe rather than out in the rain. Just shows what a hardy (or slightly mad) bunch we rogainers are.

I hadn’t rogained near Catherine Hill Bay before, I was sick for the last rogaine in the area and I admit I was not expecting the amount of bush we encountered, nor was I expecting as much complex navigation as we did. In fact I am embarrassed to admit we duffered control 91. We can see our route below:


Wandering in circles

Our compass bearing into 91 was pretty good. After skirting around the creek which looked very deep, we followed our compass bearing but stopped just 30 metres from the control and then decided to walk in circles for 30 minutes trying to understand what had gone wrong.  What made matters worse was that I was leading at this stage, so I could not blame my team mates. At least we found the control in the end. I felt better when I spoke to another team at the finish who looked for 91 and didn’t find it. It is amazing what a lonely place a rogaine can be when you are off the main path.

I am pleased to report that control 91 was our only real error, every other control more or less went to plan and we ended up with 1050 points. I can’t help thinking what might have been if we hadn’t lost that precious 30 minutes. I also can’t help wondering what that event would be like in the dry. It certainly would have been a different experience. The views were spectacular in the rain and the mist, they would have been very special on a nice day.


Overall I had a lot of fun and I really appreciate the efforts of all the volunteers for their hard work in making an event like this happen and thanks also to the Catherine Hill Bay Bowling Club who will be spending a lot of tomorrow cleaning rogainer’s mud off their floor.  I normally do not eat much after events but today I stuffed myself with two sausage sandwiches, thanks to Waitara Scouts.

Also thanks to the Paddy Pallin organisation and Chris Mein for their continued support of our sport.


Blisters for Vistas

The Socialgaine was developed to give the regular rogainer a different perspective on the environment. ¼ way between the, all urbane Metrogaine and the largely bush Rogaine. You can go all out and sprint for the 6 hours, or perhaps sip a leisurely coffee at a conveniently located checkpoint coffee house, or slip into the ocean for a refreshing dip, or laze on a large rock shelf at the top of a summit taking in the panoramic views while chatting to your companions, while warmed by the sun at the same time as cooled by the sea breeze. It seems to me a delightful way to renew your feeling of oneness with paradise. For me when I hear paradise described I recognise the east coast of Australia. If you live in paradise why not enjoy the facilities, they were put here for our convenience!

This Socialgaine starts and finishes at the hash house at the park and children’s playground behind the Umina Surf Club House. A most pleasant place to be. I was particularly pleased to see the selection of “adventure” playground equipment, a flying fox to slide out along, a large network of ropes to represent anything you would imagine from sailing ship with masts, to jungle, to trampoline, to skyway, to ……..

Eowyn and other competitors on Umina Beach just after the start

We arrived at about 7:30 on a now beautiful sunny day (after the overcast drizzle of yesterday) and collected the map and instructions, so we could plot out a course. This is Eowyns first Rogaine, so it was pleasing to see that she suggested the same route that interested me. I prefer the scenic, interesting, challenging, rather than the highest score. I find rogaining a great way to explore a section of landscape in a most unusual way. At 9:30 Eowyn grabbed our control card from the “clothes line”, (few rogaines other than Navshield start this way nowadays). And we were on our way down to walk along the Umina Beach for {Check Point 30, a sign beside the beach}, {CP 20, a survey marker at the headland}, {CP 21, a sign}. Very pleasant walking with the sun tempered by the cool sea breeze and stunning scenery, Broken Bay sea stretching out to the Pacific Ocean beyond, bounded by the rocky headlands, with the forested hills behind, many sailing craft on the water. Such a delightful day many people enjoying the beach, the small surf, or out strolling, every where a grin or a laugh.

Rounding the second headland on track, beautiful Bay before us.

Onward, enjoying even more, Pearl Beach to {CP 31, the sign}. As the song said “sign, sign, every where a sign”. Even that sentiment can’t prevent enjoyment, just ignore the sign:). Around the headland by way of the ocean rock platform to {CP 45, the survey mark}. Our way inland now, along delightfully named Crystal Avenue. Eowyn shows she is more alert than me, as she takes the side Parks Service road. Someone had drawn a line to indicate our intended route and I assumed it was a track :~). {CP 60, the rock shelf on the spur 40m from the track}. We did chat to the flushed competitors who had just scrambled up the much steeper direct route, good choice Eowyn. Still on the track up to {CP 80, the lookout}. Great location for a morning snack while we look south over Broken Bay, past all the racing yachts, to the forests of Kuring-gai Chase, then beyond to the skyline of Sydney far to the south.

Eowyn prefers the shorter steeper foot track to the trig point where we a shushed by a couple watching an echidna eating ants, like they should do 🙂 We keep on, using the short section of track shown on the map, to locate the dogleg spur that leads to {CP 50, scenic end of rock outcrop the spur}. A trifle prickly blackened scrub this way. Back to the track and on to Patonga Drive, where we head down the road, carefully dodging the traffic, to collect {CP 35, end of rock platform}. Again a throng of people sitting enjoying the moment, while they re-fuel ready for the next burst of energy.

Broken Bay from CP 80, lookout.

We have been travelling this remarkable sandstone ridge plateau for a while now absolutely fascinating country. Low but prickly scrub, many oddly contorted rocky outcrops and extensive rock platforms, many with castellated like paving and every which way you look magnificent scenery. Add the weather and all the smiling people we pass – heaven.

The obvious way onto {CP 33, north side of rock outcrop}, is to take the bush track rather than chance the tar Patonga road again. And a pleasant way to go it is. Only a short walk to {CP 42, a knoll}. I need to explained the nomenclature of rogaining:- when a location is a feature shown on the map it is referred to as “the”, knoll, summit, watercourse, etc., if a feature can be inferred from the map (by a canny reader) it is referred to as “a” whatever. As I’m pointing out “the” knoll and the probable “a” knoll to Eowyn I see the orange and yellow control flag fluttering in the breeze, well that’s easy then :-).

We wander on along this easy walking gently undulating trail to a track junction, where we will go one way for {CP 71, the watercourse, to cool your feet}, or the other for {CP100, the summit}. On the way we passed a man, dressed in an all black running suit, he does not look in a good way and seems partly delirious, but he just keeps going. It seems that there is a 100km and 100 mile race on the Great North Walk today going from Teralba down to Patonga.

The track junction with handy tall shady trees make a great spot to stop and re-energise, and chat to the passing throng. While munching Mars Bars Eowyn was studying the map and suggested a change of plan for more points. Follow the spur from here to CP 100 then return the same way before picking up CP 71 and going on for CP 51 and 70. Great idea well do that.

Relatively easy walking on the spur directly to {CP 100, the summit}, is a large rock platform offering great views all round but particularly to the ocean in the east. A large party of competitors was taking the opportunity to sit and enjoy the view and the breeze. I did take a quick look around to see if I could recognise any aboriginal rock engravings, this would be an obvious place. If they were there I couldn’t recognise them. Other areas in Brisbane Waters National Park have extensive areas of aboriginal activities. CP 71 was a nice little rocky creek enough water for a drink from a small pool, but I would have only been able to cool the soles of my feet, bit at a time :-). Then the short hop, back to the main track and then north to where the spur to CP51 and CP 70 starts.

Eowyn thinks that may be an easy way and I think there may even be some sort of track to link with the track shown further up. We glance at the shortest way up to {CP 51, the spur} as we pass, but the steepness, combined with the thick prickly scrub easily dissuades us wimps. There is a marked trail up the spur orange surveyors tape, but the scrub is relatively easy on the top of these ridges and spurs, anyway. Not sure how much actual navigation we did going up here, but I had just stopped momentarily to read the map when Eowyn “here it is”. I suppose you don’t really need to concentrate following along a line feature. The landscape along this ridge top very pleasing, extensive rock platforms of interesting rock formations, low coastal scrub of fascinating variety with lots of flowers. As with most of the course magnificent views in all directions. {CP 70, the saddle}, is just round a dog leg in the ridge, again we were just walking rather than navigating and again I had just stopped to interrogate the map when “here it is” from Eowyn :-).

Dug enjoys CP 100, the summit.

Just a short section of bush track from here down a steeper spur into the urban area below. All street walking from now on. {CP 36, which bus route goes up the Rampart (st.)?} Easy the utilities pole at the top of the street has the sign, we briefly thought of taking a short cut but the steep terrain deterred us and we went the long easy way (wimps). CP 25, 24 and 23, aren’t much of a challenge and we register back in at 3:27, three minutes to spare.

All to do now total up our score, get someone to check our addition, hand in and then get into the welcome food and drink at the Hash House. Very pleasant to chat with all the smiling people, while we munched on salad and sausage sandwiches, sipping juice, or tea, or coffee, as was your taste.

A very pleasing day, thank you Eowyn for making it so. Congratulations to Eowyn the score of 810 points very credible for a first timer, dragging a stumbley old codger around as a handicap. Thank you and congratulations to the organisers and course setters for a brilliant event in a very picturesque location. Till next time. © Copy Right Dug Floyd November 2012.


Winter Wrap 2015

Winter wrap

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by three fabulous rogaines

With apologies to Shakespeare and Richard 3rd.

Despite Sydney’s coldest winter for 26 years it has been champagne conditions for NSW rogainers with great events in June, July and August.

Paddy Pallin

The first of the winter rogaines was the Paddy Pallin 6 Hour event on a very sunny day on the south coast at Bendalong Point south of Jarvis Bay.

Course setter, Trevor Gollan, had generously set the checkpoints so that there were a number of legs with great beach views. After the start it was a question of either scampering north or south with most heading north up the beach as there were bigger pickings in that direction. Top teams took in extra loops but had a dilemma as to whether to head for two check points on the other side of Berringer Lake with no simple way to incorporate them. Wise heads ruled the day and even the winners gave them a miss.

The setting/vetting team was a whos who of legendary rogainers from past campaigns. Helping Trevor there was Peter Waterson, Maurice Ripley and Ian Arnold. Missing only was the warm and generous George Collins who very sadly passed away aged only in his late 50s late last year.

John Clancy and myself had the satisfaction of completing a good course and finishing up the southern beach with a few minutes spare.  Each of the winning three teams were late indicating the intensity of the competition at the pointy end. Winners were ACT rogainers, Julie Quinn and Dave Baldwin, amongst Australia’s best prospects at the World Championships in Finland’s Arctic Circle on 22/23 August. Second by 60 points were Greg Barbour and Steve Todkill who were 20 minutes (200 points) late. Close behind were the ever competitive Andrew and Nicole Haig followed in fourth by David Willaims and Ronnie Taib

Search and Rescue

In July it was the Search and Rescue Rogaine at Mt Yengo National Park and another story entirely. This is an event with all of its own traditions and a special purpose. Held every year on the first weekend of July in difficult country it is designed to replicate winter search and rescue conditions for missing bushwallkers. Most competitors come from the paid and volunteer rescue services. The events on offer start at 8.45am and finish at either 10.30pm or 2.30pm the following day. Old style control punches are used,

Although not far from Sydney and thankfully near sea level, the dirt road in was still an hour of winding track mostly following the ridges. I had the idea that ridges would be better going than the creeks and so that was our strategy.

In the morning it is hard to put a finger on one thing that went wrong but when everyone was ready for the briefing for the 8.45am start we were not.   We underestimated how long it would take to mark up the map from eight digit grid coordinates. Then there was the water container with a thick layer of ice and frozen tap which slowed filling water bladders. Anyway at the gun we started with a burst and had the satisfaction of being first equal to the first control at the top of a rocky spur. However at the second control things went awry due to a pace counting calibration problem. Just how many paces in thick bush is 100 metres?  We dived down into a gully to find ‘the gully’ but in due course it turned out that our steep gully was the wrong steep gully and a lot of energy was consumed. The 20 metre contours hid a lot of topography.

A short stretch of track gave us a mid-afternoon breather before another climb and then an interminable ridge bash followed by a treacherous decent into a ravine, an open valley walk and another steep climb. Darkness fell and we checked in for our obligatory radio checkpoint before heading in the general direction of the Hash House via two final check points. It was well below freezing and every bit of clothing went on as well as some regrets about no gloves. At about this point I realised the gullies were better than the ridges. In 10.5 hours we had visited only eight checkpoints! Our excuse – no two were joined together by an obvious route!

Next day it emerged that in the overnight event rogainers David Williams and Ronnie Taib had cleared the course with a little time to spare, had won the rogaine category and had the highest score overall. Superb effort.

The Search and Rescue Rogaine is not for the faint hearted but recommended to all those who don’t mind wilder country and night navigation. Don’t forget to take your winter gear.

Lake Macquarie and NSW Champs

August 1st and  Anne Francis and I got up early for the drive up the freeway to the Watagans, pitch tents and ensure time to study maps before the midday start. A Championship event and only 12 hours – I thought we’d be in with a shot in the Mixed Super Veterans category.  Not long back from the Boston marathon and with a training regime to match, Anne’s fitness was never in doubt. But what about my slowness up hills and Anne’s drop in enthusiasm after dark. How would we go?

Bert Van Netten, Bob Gilbert and team have made such a success of the Lake Macquarie event which has been going for so many years and always finding courses with new twists.

An hour after the start in a canyon with many other teams we agreed that when the other slid off another green rock we would not again ask ‘are you alright’ but wait to be told only if the answer was no. Eventually out of the rough stuff we made good time on tracks in line with Marg and Rob Cook – fellow travellers in the Supervets. The crux of the course was whether to make a major descent down a very steep spur followed by a chaotic gully and then a 200 metre climb back through the only 100 pointer on the course. We went for it.

By the time we had escaped it was dark and we were low on water. An unexpected time hazard had been the amount of timber recently felled by a storm meaning that we had been sliding over, under and through a labyrinth of tree trunks. Skipping two controls we made it to the busy tea and damper stop for hot sweet liquid and slice. Bert was helping to host and warned that the Great North Walk en route back was slower than it looked. Sure enough at each of the four check points off the track back we lost a few minutes – a combination of tiredness and the moon too low to help the dark night. We thought we were cutting it fine and skipped the last 20 pointer but then made it back comfortably although I was exhausted. And the Cooks had beaten us by 130 points – the value of those checkpoints we had skipped. They said training for Trailwalker had built up their strength.

Congratulations went to winners Martin Dent and Susie Sprague who managed to clear the course just in time. Martin is a former winner of the City to Surf and ran the marathon at the London Olympics (2.16 and 28th). I don’t know about Susie but she must be a very fine athlete. Second were Mike Hotchkiss and Neil Hawthorne only 40 points behind and a great hit out in preparation for their bid at the World Championships. Third only ten points off were, you guessed it, that strong partnership of David Williams and Ronnie Taib. Truly a championship field.

Thanks go to the many many people who volunteered their time to put on these three excellent events. And, we found every control we went for with only a little time lost along the way. Well done too to Sophie Stephenson on her first proper rogaine who took her dad along for the walk. Me, I’m heading for a big trek in the Himalaya and hope that rogaining will have been good training.

Julian Ledger

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

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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

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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.”


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


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!