We have done quite a few 24 hour events as a MUV team and rarely had much competition, so it was very good to be at an event with nine other UV teams! We think of ourselves as slow and steady types, befitting our team name ‘Red Hill Ramblers’ and had taken the MUV nationals trophy in 2022 thanks to the ‘fast and furious’ team of our Victorian friends Sedunary and Trease not competing (as they were organising that event), and the dynamic duo of Jean and Peggy Douglas being in the WUV category.
Arriving at HH at dusk to overnight Friday with our summer weight gear due to the forecast hot conditions, we were disturbed to see a campfire lit and everyone else rugged up. We were not at all prepared for the cold night that ensued, rising to frozen tents and water bottles. Thawing out the next morning, we planned an ambitious course that would have taken us to the southeast quadrant, through the centre to the northwest and then the south west quadrant to home.
We got off to a good start until we hit some very slow scrub, causing us to take nearly three hours for 87-91-101-99, and falling behind our schedule even in the broad daylight. After a water refill at 14W (hats off to the organisers for the several well stocked water drops!) we made our way back to the centre of the course as it got dark and took too long to get 100 and 60, which looked so close together on the map. By now it was 10pm, when we had planned to be having a hot meal at the ANC and focussed on that destination went up the hill and aimed for 64. This is where things came unstuck for us. Despite the good moonlight, the very thick undergrowth made it impossible to pace count and we could not find the control in ‘the gully’ that seemed so clearly marked on the map. We spent a fruitless and tiring hour bashing back and forth and up and down the ridge line, before giving up and heading for 54 and the ANC, finally arriving around 1am. Even though now running several hours behind our planned route, we decided to keep going into the north west quadrant of the course and see what we could do to catch up. We found it very slow going towards 90 and 102, and before we knew it was dawn and time to work out the most efficient and productive way to use the last 6 hours. We made use of watercourse banks and enjoyed the relatively open country for the final controls we could get in the southwest, and got back to HH with 15 minutes to spare.
Overall for us our 1730 pts and 3rd in MUV felt about right. We went right through the night and gave it all we had but made a couple of errors that caused us to lose lots of time – a missed control and bush-bashing several routes that would have been much easier on longer tracks. We also marvelled in the warmth of the night, the flock of black cockies, the emu family, the grassy creek banks, the views from the high points, the wonderful service of multiple water drops and the ANC, and of course the course itself, with controls so well positioned and visible.
Tony and Grant