Wingello Race Report - Foot Rogaine
ACTRA 6 hour cycle and foot rogaine, 27th May 2012
Ben Greenwood, posted on 28th May 2012
I had definitely expected a bit of a relaxed pace for the event, carrying some pretty exhausted legs (from my first North Face 100) and racing with my partner, Jessi, for the first time. Apparently this was unfounded, with Jessi revealing a side that I'd been yet to see: for a first attempt at Rogaining, she definitely wanted to prove we could be competitive! And a complete natural...
The cold 5am rise in Canberra hadn't done much to excite me about the 2 hours of stationary preparation time, but having gotten our maps and completed the mandatory highlighting ordeal, we managed to sneak into the ACTRA tent and grab a table. The course had a high saturation of big points in the SW, but with no way to connect nicely back into the middle of the course (and given that we would be on foot), we elected to try and make something useful out of the NE and E sections of the map, with the goal to loop down towards the other side of Running Creek, time-permitting.
Given that the course had been set for the bikes, many of the "out-and-backs" in the south weren't going to be efficient for us, but we did have the advantage of being able to cut through some of the gullies to prevent having to go back into the pine forest once we were done in the NE.
With the cycle racers planning their "65km+ loops" (!!), we nervously tried to work out what pace we thought we would be going…and after some guessing, thought that a goal to make our way round to #100 in about 2.5hr (about 14km control-to-control, crow-flies) would be best-case and we could reassess our options once we got back to the water drop (W2). Then, as you do, we commandeered some nice man's fire that was nearby and packed backpacks for the race.
With the starting buzzer gone, I realised I'd missed an essential step (actually attaching a navlight to Jessi's wristband...duh!) and we belatedly scrambled towards the first control. Turned out this was a useful mistake, as the constant stream of people moving in and out of #58 had subsided a little by the time we got there. After falling into the creek a few times and eventually tagging the control, I found myself struggling to clamber back up the muddy banks – then to my surprise, two mysterious hands attached themselves to my backside and suddenly I was no longer in the creek. To that mysterious somebody (you know who you are!), cheers :-P
It was around now, that I realised Jessi had no intention of maintaining a relaxed pace. The hill before #52 apparently "wasn't steep enough to walk" and I started to wonder whether I had the legs in me to keep this up for 6 hours. The bikes did an awesome job of churning up the track into #33 and although it didn't dampen our spirits, it certainly did our socks.
The next handful of controls just flew by and at #90, we managed to dart down into the gully and cross directly over to #42 (a masterfully cunning plan, I had hoped!). Although it turned out to be particularly pretty down in the damp undergrowth, it was also particularly SLOW. Once we got to the intersection up on Gulph Road, we dumped the packs to grab #70 and came back up to meet a spray of mud being thrown up by three dirtbike riders doing doughtnuts around our backpacks. Thanks for that! (Now I know sarcasm doesn’t translate well on the internet, but I do hear that said dirtbike riders may/may not have met up with an untimely section of slippery mud and...well...that's all terribly sad).
#66 to #84 was, for me, one of the prettiest sections of the course. Although there were a few 3m-odd drops that we had to navigate around on the way down, the creek was in good flow and the glint of sunlight through the ferns overhead was really special. Turned out that the track to #84 continued well beyond what was mapped, so when we reached it, I was a bit confused as to how it could possibly be going in an east-west. After discovering that there was definitely no knoll on one end of this track, we assumed it must be further up the hill and made our way right onto the control. Another in-and-out at #100 gave us an opportunity to ditch our packs again for a breather and although I may succumbed to a bit of herd mentality (yes Ben, read the control description), we managed to pick this hundred-pointer up nice and quickly.
Time then for some quick blister management on Jessi's feet before sweeping back west, grabbing a couple of the medium points. The single-track parallel to Gap Road was simply amazing and we followed this all the way across from #56 to #72 where we ran into Julie and Hanny (and quite a spectacular cliff, I might add). We met Seb and Lee's group for the umpteenth time (!) at the water drop and topped up before heading into the forest at #67 (which was wonderfully soft underfoot, if a little bit eerie).
Well ahead of time, I decided we should take a few extras, at #45, #44, #62 and #55, before we headed due north and crossed the creek up to #35. Now this was quite a decent climb, but along the way I noticed some cycle treads heading down towards the river - you sir, are a brave man.
Now on the home stretch, we topped up on nourishment and grabbed the cheap points up towards the north. With 20 minutes remaining, we raced from #51 to #41 and then breezed past the HH to a sneaky #32 (which I completely missed, thanks to the bike team who rescued us by excitedly waving "it's over here!!") :-)
Evidently happy to see the HH and finishing line, Jessi had kept up a really incredible pace for the full 6 hours, without any stops! She bounded through the off-piste sections and is definitely a natural competitor. An incredibly well-deserved first place and brilliant start to her rogaining experience. and (finally!) an ACT Winners mug for me! :-P
Wonderful event, lovely course, scrumptious HH, excellent management -- all the usual ACTRA synonyms!
Ben & Jessi