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Event Reports and Stories

First 12 hour and still standing

ACT Spring Rogaine, 12th Nov 2005
Heather Logie, posted on 18th Nov 2005

Feeling brave and ambitious in the lead up to this 12 hour event, I managed to negotiate my way onto a team with Selina Stoute, Mark McDonald and Susie Sprague. I was a bit worried that the 4 person train going through the bush might not be the most efficient combination but a few training runs in weeks leading up revealed that we were all close in fitness and seemed to have a similarly competitive but fun approach to the event.

In days leading up, I was struck down by the most evil of lurgy’s and spent 2 days at home in bed - it wasn’t looking good. After all my bargaining and promises that I wanted to “have a real go at it”, I just had to get out there though. Saturday morning was a slow start with 3 stops en route to the HH - Brumbies for chocolate croissants (we were too early and had to set up the tables while they fired up the cash register), CSIRO so Susie could water her fungus and finally McDonalds for a decent grease coating to the stomach for the day.

We’d decided to camp after the event so had to swing by Mt Clear campground on the way to set up tents. The nice couple just waking up for their breakfast looked a little confused at the sudden arrival of people who pitched and disappeared again - many apologies to them also for our arrival into camp at midnight…

Anyway, our eagerness to get going had us at the HH ½ hour before registration was due to open so we gallantly offered to set up the catering tent - I can only assume that someone came along to reinforce everything after we’d left because it was still standing when we arrived that night.

Onto the event…

When we first looked at the map, we thought that a clockwise loop might be the way to go with quite a few of the controls in easy reaching distance from a good quick exit path along a road running down the east of the map. Setters notes hinted that one of the controls at least in the north-east was going to be pretty tricky to get to (53 I think). The idea of trying to find it in the dark had us revise our plan and map out an anti-clockwise route instead leaving controls in the flatter south west for the dark hours. We had estimated about 4km/hour pace and planned a route covering about 40km. Mark even mapped in target points - 12km (CP90) in 3 hours, 20km (CP60) in 5 hours… we were pretty happy with the race plan until we saw Keith’s course-clearing plan 2 mins before the start - had we been too soft? Oh well, too late - the buzzer sounded and we traipsed off with 100 others toward CP39.

The first 3 hours were pretty solid moving up the east of the map. Highlights included pleasant surprise at the ascent to CP90 (not as bad as we expected). I must confess though that only being able to breath through my mouth was interesting - I certainly wasn’t very talkative… The next climb up to CP101 was “hotter” and particularly so as we were all running very low on water. The drop down from CP101 was scrubby and rough as promised (I certainly wouldn’t want to go up it) but not as bad as we had anticipated from notes. It was an odd experience to come down this ridge and arrive at CP60 along with about 5 other teams all going the other direction - must be the mid-way point! This is the site of biggest post-event impact I think as well. Just after 60 we crossed a boggy swamp and everyone’s feet got wet and gritty. From various reports I’m not the only one who has been unable to wear shoes for the past 3 days because of the fabulous blisters that we all sustained.

Controls from here were reasonably easily checked off and we were moving fast in an attempt to get around to the “tricky gully” at CP80 before dark. En route we struggled up a messy ridge to CP55 where I had to stop to tape down a toenail that was desperately trying to wrench itself off my toe (not fun!). A key route decision had to be made here. This was our first (and only) instance of disagreement in the ranks. After the messy climb up the ridge, there was a suggestion that we go back down to the road and up again to the saddle rather than trashing down the other side of the ridge. This is where an even number of team members is not so useful! The extremely scientific strategy of rock, paper, scissors was called upon to break the stalemate and we hurtled off along the ridge. Just past here is where we finally hit a marked water-spot swarming with mosquitos and had an interesting time trying to fill water bladders from a shallow cutting through the scrub. Next highlight was managing to hit CP34/37 just on sunset for a spectacular view across the valley. 2 seconds of ooh’s and ahh’s and we were off again.

Our next challenge was CP80. We were racing the dark. As we marched into the gathering dusk, we disturbed a pair of lyrebirds (big excitement for Susie, our resident bird-buff) - very cool. Anyway, it was about 8pm by the time we hit the junction just above and Mark started pacing out. We spotted one team heading back up the creek (success) and heard a number of other teams off in various gully’s to the right as we got nearer. In the end we did jump off too soon and in the quickly gathering dark ground to a stop within minutes. A good chance to take stock, get the torches out and reassess. Control was obviously not far from the creek. Mark and Selina headed back toward the creek while Susie and I teetered on top of a boulder trying to get torches out and shift into night gear. We joined them a few minutes later and all had a seat while we looked again at the map. Looking a bit more carefully (not in such a rush anymore), we picked out the small knoll above the “tricky gully” and looking up, realised that we were just above it. Mark pulled out his “super-torch” and we ducked around the knoll. Very comforting to hear his secret call ahead a few seconds later to indicate that he’d spotted it. In the end, we probably lost 10 minutes at most but it was the right time to stop and shift gear anyway.

From here we headed back out into the valley for the road which we planned to follow around to the south-east and back into the HH. Controls along the road were going to be pretty easy and we were still doing well for time so decided to tackle a few extras off to the south. Susie put her foot down here and said that if we were going for these, there was no way in &*#$ Mark was going to make her bolt for CP29 (thanks Susie!). The extra 40 and 30 pointer were no challenge for the super-torch and we were back on the road heading for the main Boboyan road by 10:10 with a couple of 20-pointers collected on the way into the HH. Crawled in with about 15 mins to spare only to hear that Adrian and David had, oh so casually, cleared the course without any route planning and with 40 mins to spare (sigh). At least we look better in cocktail dresses (or 3 out of 4 of us anyway).

On my assessment, we had only dropped 6 controls and 180 points but I really struggled to add up points from the control card (my fingers just couldn’t hold the pen). Selina and I managed to get completely different totals so gave up and handed the card over to the trusty organisers. They ended up with a different number again… Anyway, we got either 1510, 1540, 1590 or 1620?

The rest of the night was a bit tragic - sore feet and cold temps made our morning in the tent pretty uncomfortable and we were all up and off back to Canberra at about 6:30 Sunday morning.

In hindsight, I am quite surprised that I managed to keep these guys in sight for 12 hours - they are all amazingly tough competitors who kept me honest throughout. It will be interesting to see how we go up against each other in the coming AROC race on 2 December (Fugahwe vs. Control Freaks). I’ll know where to look for explanations to mysterious flat tyres… This was also my first rogaine involving night-navigation (other than the torrential downpour experience of the women’s workshop). I was definitely appreciative of Emma’s words of wisdom and impressed that we managed to hit 6 controls in the dark - nice to realise that it is possible.

A big thank you to Mark, Susie and Selina for an awesome day and also to all the organisers and course setters for a fantastic event - the area was beautiful and the course had lots of options so you weren’t playing tag with the same teams all day.

I’m hooked - my wine glass is going straight to the pool room!

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