At last, the final rogaine of 2020, where the months of preparation and training could be put to use and pitted against an expected massive entry. Not even the dread of a pandemic could dampen our enthusiasm for this, the most important event of the South Australian sporting calendar where we would be under the spotlight of well over 400 other determined competitors and spectators.
The big question obviously was what was going to be our dress theme to earn those much, desired BONUS points.
Pre-event meetings were scheduled, office staff quizzed and forensic analysis of the pre-event blurb, which detailed general location and the event name “Three Hours of Freedom”, gave us some clues to what the organisers were expecting as a dress-up theme.
Given that the Yatala Prison complex was on the fringe of the Dry Creek Gorge, our thoughts obviously veered to a convict escapee dress theme, but how far to go? Ball and chain? Perhaps leave that for a pre-wedding bucks’ night, however, hand cuffs should create some interest and would be easier to carry around and prevent team splitting.
On the day of the event, perfect weather, big crowd, well organised volunteer group and a great map showing all the required navigational details and 39 checkpoints to decide on. Route planning was based on expected distance we would be able to travel in the allotted three hours, accessibility of the checkpoint sites, especially along the Dry Creek Gorge area and total point value of various routes.
What a gorgeous time of year. What a perfect day for a cheery jaunt around the Sturt Gorge. Not even the occasional brown snake sighting could spoil the effect of the blue skies, green earth, roaring river, and energised rogainers scurrying around the nooks and crannies of this beautiful little corner of the earth.
It has been a long time since I last was involved in one of these events. I got dragged out on a few in my teens and early twenties, but a fierce competitive streak combined with pretty poor physical fitness did not make for particularly good rogainer material – though I do still have fond memories of stumbling into the hash house after being lost all night on a 24 hour event, and consuming my body weight in cheese toasties, bacon, and french toast. Over the lockdown, however, I discovered a newfound passion for running, spurred on largely by the discovery that harnessing our two energetic kelpies to a belt around my waist would allow me to essentially just hop in place while they did the bulk of the work. Dear old mum saw an opportunity to capitalise on this rare occurrence of a shared passion (she’s never been particularly keen on Nintendo games and depressing folk music) and invited me along. I agreed, in spite of hesitations revolving around the loss of my twin canine outboard motors, and prickly memories of another gorge-based rogaine where an icy swim across a river and a stretch of vertical commando crawling through weapons-grade brambles couldn’t save us from a disqualification for late return. Having now experienced this glorious day out, I am glad that I agreed to participate in this one.
I have lived for most of my life in the suburbs around these parts, growing up in two different houses in Hawthorndene, attending university at Flinders, and spending time at friends’ houses all around Bellevue Heights, Craigburn Farm, and Flagstaff Hill, so perhaps the most interesting part of this event was connecting the dots and discovering how closely these suburbs actually sit, relative to one another. I remember boring my poor old mum with multiple exclamations of “That’s Will’s house just down there!”, “Bryce used to live on this street!”, “Oh wow, this control is right by Harry’s place!”, and the like. On reflection, I am realising that whatever goodwill I may have gained by agreeing to join her for this event may have been totally undermined by the revelation that the expensive schooling she paid to put me through left me without even the slightest understanding of basic local geography. Nevertheless, it was still a treat to finally put these puzzle pieces together, and to realise how much time I could have saved in my life if “as the crow flies” was an actual method of travel, rather than just a wishful idiom.
The rogaining weekend was shaping up to be very special. For the first time, we had decided to take the Friday off to avoid the usual 4am start on the Saturday to arrive on time for the event start. Rather, we wanted a relaxing drive up north on Friday and enjoy a weekend of camping in the bush. With plenty of time to set up, get organised, and a long night of cosy sleep in the tent.
It all started well. Nice drive, beautiful outback setting upon arrival, sunny with just the right temperature. Tent up, extra thick mattresses and pillows for comfort…and then…the realisation that we had forgotten our sleeping bags! Seriously?! After 30+ years of hiking, competing and camping, this was a first-timer. Particularly ironic since we usually only have a short sleep in the swag for the longer events. This weekend, we needed proper bedding.
Luckily, our rogaining friends were better prepared and came to the rescue. Thanks to Kate and Doug and a few army blankets later, we were set to survive the cold nights. Doug also kindly shared his valuable Moccona (how can you also forget coffee?!) – the deliciousness of such basic instant coffee when camping always amazes us! Clearly, age is getting to us already as veterans, and we secretly wonder what this will mean when we (soon) hit super veterans. After a weekend start like this, we did not feel reassured collecting our maps.
About suffering they were never wrong
The Old Masters, how well they understood
– from W.H.Auden’s Musee des Beaux Arts
About control locations they were sometimes wrong
The Super Vets, how badly they misunderstood
– yours truly ruminating on the event
Yep, that’s right. The Oladdie rogaine wasn’t our finest fifteen hours. At one point my teammate, Steve, remarked that while you often forget the controls you visited successfully you always remember the controls you fail to find. I know we’ll long remember control 82 or at least trying to find it and, in the process, blowing three hours. Oh dear.
It wasn’t our only mistake. We were guilty of not thinking well about our scheduling regarding daylight and Hash Houses and such and were a bit too ambitious with our route choice, compounding that mistake by making a real meal of finding a few of the controls in the difficult eastern part of the map.
By Michael Broadbent, course setter, 15/8 hour roving rogaine 2020
A few hundred metres south of the control are the ruins of the original homestead. It would have been chosen because it was close to permanent water. To the north, alongside the watercourse, are several stone structures. These are mausoleums or burial chambers. The rock exposed in the riverbed is tillite. Note the fragments of rocks and finer debris that has been eroded by glacial action.
The rock strata exposed in the watercourse leading south from the road to the control point is both varied and coloured.
These are spectacular rock formations and are the result of a volcanic “diapir” in this area where magma (molten rock) was pushed up through the sedimentary layers. The intense heat and pressure of the magma greatly altered the adjacent sedimentary layers and turned them into metamorphic rocks. These are harder and more resistant to erosion, resulting in the rock spine.
Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed, Doug. You’re organising the upcoming Velogaine – what is your first love – cycling or running/hiking?
That’s a really hard question. I spend a lot of time on my bikes and they give me that intensity of physical exercise and time to think and solve problems. So quite a solo experience. Rogaining delivers some very different things that I love. It’s conducted in the bush in really interesting places, physical effort, there’s the element of teams, mateship and strategy, the challenge of navigation and the great camaraderie of the sport. It strips away anything artificial from people – after 24 hours of rogaining you see them unfiltered.
How did you become a rogainer?
By accident really. Way back an Army mate asked me if I wanted to form a team for this rogaining thing. We were posted at Wodonga at the time and once he explained it was like score-orienteering, I was in. Turned out that’s about all he knew. The event was the Victorian Rogaining Association 1983 Spring 12-Hour at Tonimbuk, just east of the Dandenongs. We really had no idea and drove 5 hours down from Wodonga on the Saturday morning stopping to buy two orange Eveready Dolphin torches and a tent on the way. In those days you had to mark up your own blank topo map from a master map. By the time we got there it was about 1130 hr and people were already assembling for the start briefing. So we scribbled some of the controls onto our maps, leaving off any we didn’t think we’d get to, threw some contact adhesive plastic onto it to stop the paper wearing away and ran off after the crowd at about 1210. Our planning was awful and, to make matters worse, in most cases our control “circles” weren’t even in the same spot between our two maps. We visited 25 control locations only finding 22 controls. But through sheer enthusiasm, and the tolerance of pain as a 23-year old male, we came 7th out of 136 teams. I was hooked. I moved to Melbourne the next year and before I knew it I was VRA Secretary.
By Talitha Baird (one half of the winning Open Women’s team at the Bundaleer Reboot 6-hour)
I have been in a really good mood for the past two weeks. If you had asked me what I like to do to relax and feel refreshed I probably would have answered “have an afternoon nap”, “read a book”, “a gentle walk along the beach”. I did not expect a 6-hour rogaine in the forest to be so refreshing. However, I am not surprised. For the past few years I have enjoyed the delights of heading for the hills of Adelaide to run in the trees. Surrounding myself with wildlife and the green of the National Parks offsets the grey and red buildings, and the silence clears my mind from the busy city orchestra. For those who like to label – yes, I call myself a Trail Runner. Now, I am no longer a novice rogainer.
My alarm woke me at 5:30am for an early drive to Bundaleer Forest with my good friend Nadia. On the drive towards Jamestown we were treated with a glorious sunrise and we knew we were in for a fun day. During the drive Nadia gave me a crash course in map reading. I grew up in the days before Google Maps, with a street directory in my car, but this type of map reading was new for me. I also attempted to learn to use a compass. In the end I must confess I diligently carried it around the course in my pocket, happy to follow Nadia and trust in her exceptional skills.
Wow – what an awesome event it was on 14 March (feels like forever ago now). Just squeezed it in before all the restrictions came into play a few days later! Thanks to the 400+ people who came to check out ‘one of Adelaide’s best kept secrets’ – now not so secret.
As the setter, it was an extremely satisfying day. The sun shone, people came, Admin worked smoothly, teams scattered in all directions at the start. Families had fun, rogainers of all abilities were challenged, there were no major injuries. All the pizza arrived and most was eaten, results were produced quickly and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. All the work was worth it – and more!
While I love to compete in rogaines, there’s something very special about setting a rogaine. Yes, it’s lots of hard work, but the intimacy that comes from deeply exploring an area is addictive and the buzz of happy competitors is a (legal) drug.
We’re excited to have you as our new President of SA Rogaining.
Thanks, it’s an honour to be part of such a great committee, and humbling to follow past President, Kate Corner, and Mark Porter before her.
What/where was your first rogaine?
My first rogaine was an Adelaide University Mountain Club event in 1982, I was 16 and went with some friends from school – we were in our school running group together and were also all keen on bushwalking. The event started at Strathalbyn. I could barely tell one end of a map from another and was really just along for the adventure. Our team became completely lost late at night in Kuitpo Forest, complete with mist and full moon. I had recently seen the film ‘American Werewolf in London’ and having a vivid imagination, I was quite frightened! We never found the control we were looking for and headed out into the farmland where we came across local farmers out spotlighting. That also had me worried. We then had about 10 km along a dirt road to get to the compulsory stop at the all-night soup kitchen at the Finnis Hall. We were meant to be there at midnight and were docked all our points for getting there at 4 am! I remember we jogged parts of this road and I found it interesting that we could still run after all that time on our feet. (While I was keen on running, in training for a marathon at the time, I had never done anything that lasted this long before.) After we had a few hours’ sleep, we had to jog to make it back to Strathalbyn for the midday finish. I think we were pretty close to last in the results. I had never done anything like it and as you see I still remember it after all these years. The same school mates and I participated in another rogaine at Parawa a year later, but I insisted we were back at sunset that time for a good night’s sleep and best pickings at the Hash House.
After your first rogaine, did you jump in ‘boots and all’ or did you take it more slowly?
After 1983 my next rogaine was in 2000 with Andrew Murphy, the 6-hour ‘Mt Misery’ Metrogaine based at Lenswood, so it was a slow transition! After this event though I was pretty well hooked.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic the ARC2020 event management team have closed entries to the event and are advising that the event is being postponed to a date yet to be decided, possibly 2021.
We believe this is a socially responsible stance to take in response to these challenging times and current restrictions which are being imposed by the state and federal governments. The decision was not undertaken lightly and we realise that this will cause issues for some with pre-planned travel arrangements etc.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that overseas and inter-state competitors will find it difficult or impossible to travel to the event and/or return home afterwards. Also, it is highly likely that part o
f the organising volunteer group will be restricted or in isolation in the lead up to the scheduled event date making it very difficult to physically host the event in May.
Full refunds will be made, if required to any entries already accepted, or held in trust pending re-opening of entries for the event on a date to be decided. The Organisers will be in contact via email to all entrants in the near future.
We hope that you and your loved ones will be safe during these trying times and look forward to seeing you in more happy times, hopefully in the not to distance future.
An Intervarsity category has now been added to the ARC2020 web site entry system. This category is for teams comprising students who are enrolled in the same university. The Australian National University (ANU) located in the ACT has dominated this category in recent years and the pressure will be on them to maintain their high standard against some of the local SA Uni teams.
Bus Schedule Revision
To assist with travellers wishing to depart Adelaide airport on the evening of Sunday 10 May, the departure time for at least one of the buses will be 2pm (at the latest) with arrival at Adelaide airport estimated to be around 5.30pm (6pm at the latest).
Those wishing to avail themselves of this early bus departure time, from Bri Glen Springs to Adelaide airport, should advise the ARC organisers ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) so that seat allocation can be arranged.
Departure times from Adelaide on the afternoon of Friday 8 May is planned to be around 1pm to 2pm (so that arrival at the Hash House site will be in daylight) and will be finalised once numbers are confirmed and in-coming flight times of participants are known. If you are flying into Adelaide and will be using the bus service, please advise the ARC2020 organisers of your flight schedules so that our “meet & greet” volunteers are available to direct you to the bus departure location.
On a dark rainy windswept night in 1989, the young girl trudged up the road in the glow of torchlight after 14 hours in the wilderness, lagging behind her companion who turned back to her, map in hand, and they conferred about whether to head towards the hash house and a warm bed in a dry* tent, or else venture further into the Deceptive Lands…
Present Day: Interview with the not-so-young-any-more girl, Jenny Casanova
(Chief Conspirator for the Deceptive Lands)
Q: Introduce us to the setting team.
A: Well, the bossy one is me, Jenny, and after the magnificent and extremely well-organised 2012 ARC at Angorichina in the Northern Flinders Ranges I started thinking about who I could get to help me showcase my favourite rogaining terrain to the rest of Austral(as)ia. So, I asked my favourite past-and-present South Aussie team mates: Mark Corbett, Zara Soden and Steve Cooper, to be part of the setting team.
*Photo of setting team (L-R: Zara Soden, Steve Cooper, Jenny Casanova, Mark Corbett) poring over maps on a rare day when it was actually too wet to be outside*
Also, the extended Corbett clan has been giving us assistance and advice. We are very lucky to have Craig Colwell as the event coordinator; he focuses on all the logistics and we primarily need only concern ourselves with preparing a 24-hour which we wish we ourselves could compete in.
Q: Where are the Deceptive Lands?
A: Only half as far from Adelaide as the Northern Flinders
(Approximately 240km, just over 3 hours’ drive depending on how often you stop at a bakery.)
Q: Why did the setters choose this area for the Australasian Championships?
A: I’ve always loved the mallee country east of the Barrier Highway, and we’ve been coming here for 30 years now, orienteering in little pockets of it, and have built up a good relationship with a number of the farmers in the region. With my parents and Zara, I set the 2013 God’s Country; Beyond Hell’s Gates 12 hour in this vicinity and we enjoyed every minute of doing so.
True, the scenery may not be as grand as some parts of the Flinders Ranges where previous ARCs have been held, but there is nothing quite like the view to the north and east from a high hill, with wedge-tailed eagles soaring overhead. When I am out there, I never want to go back to the city!
Q: Tell us what the terrain is like.
A: Rolling hills, deeply-incised dry creek networks more numerous than can possibly all be shown on the map, some enormous channels which have actually been flowing when the tail end of a summer cyclone comes through, very little undergrowth in the mallee scrub, some fast open flood plains, and absolutely no spinifex…
Q: Why is the rogaine titled “Deceptive Lands”?
A: We toyed initially with something on the Goyder Council theme; Goyder having been the surveyor who in the 1860s undertook a detailed study of South Australia’s vegetation, and identified that crops would not be viable north of a virtual boundary which he drew on maps. In this region, Goyder’s line is almost visibly painted on the ground in a drought year.
The name Deceptive Lands came about because it’s the title of a book written in the 1960s about the history of the Terowie region, referencing the fact that in a good rainfall year this can seem like excellent cropping & grazing country, but appearances can be deceptive…as they can also be when following up a watercourse amongst the mallee, looking for a side gully at two in the morning.
Q: How has the drought affected this area?
A: In the midst of the mallee, nothing appears to change, although local farmers had been carting water and feed for their stock for over a year now, so it’s an absolute blessing that there have been recent summer rains. There are some permanent springs & soaks in the area, as the original Ngadjuri people would have been well aware; these must have been a lifeline for them in dry years.
Q: How can we get to the 2020 ARC?
A: By standing on the side of main North Road and thumbing a lift as fellow rogainers go past!
Although the HH is not so very far from an airstrip, you would need to bring your own light aircraft, and the trains eventually stopped running to Terowie over 40 years after General MacArthur stood on the platform and famously declared “I came out of Bataan and I shall return”. Seriously though, buses will be organised for competitors who require transport to/from the airport, and info on booking the bus can be found on the ARC website https://sarogaining.com.au/event/ara-championships-2020/ plus there are plenty of car hire options.
Q: Why should we come to the Deceptive Lands?
A: Because it will be such a fun event, with great catering at the centrally-located hash house, unlimited space for free camping Fri-Sun nights, and 80 controls to choose from, plus there’s an 8 hour option for those who don’t feel inclined to do an entire 24 hours. And you can check out the antiques in Burra, or the wineries of the Clare Valley, on your way to and from the Deceptive Lands. And don’t forget to purchase a commemorative Deceptive Lands shirt from https://topsbytash.com.au/collections/rogaining-champs-2020
Whilst the summer monsoonal rain thwarted the Setting team’s planned 2020 Australasian Rogaining Championships site visit this weekend as the access road and surrounding paddocks were awash after the 50 – 60mm of overnight rain, this was a godsend for the parched countryside and local wild-life.
The Setting team and associated organisers were forced to spend a pleasant morning huddled in a café, reviewing maps and Control locations and discussing other Rogaine event management details.
Hopefully there will be further rainfalls in the coming weeks to provide relief to the farmers and start to green up the area.
There’s lots to do and see apart from Rogaining at the 2020 Australasian Rogaining Championships. So if you have time before or after, or if your support crew are looking to see some sights while you are busy with your cross country navigation, check out the attached tourist map which our resident Orienteering Guru, Adrian Uppill prepared. There should be something for everyone with old trains, dinosaur bones, ruins, gold mine diggings, mountains to climb and lots of kangaroos and emus.
The event area for the 2020 Australasian Rogaining Championships has a fascinating history. In 1865 with barely 30 years’ knowledge of this new country, George Goyder, the then SA Surveyor General was asked to map the boundary between those areas that received good rainfall and those experiencing drought.
After traversing an estimated 3,200kms on horseback he submitted his report and map to the state government in December of that year. The map showed a line of demarcation, the areas to the north being judged to be “liable to drought” and the areas to the south being arable.
Unfortunately, ample rains fell during 1865 prompting farmers to ignore Goyder’s report and settle in the north, starting farms and planting crops. A few years later, Goyder was proved correct and many had to abandon their properties as the land was indeed unsuitable for cropping. Many farmhouse ruins can be seen in the vicinity of Goyder’s line.
There were other periods of development north of the line, but invariably, adverse conditions proved decisive. Entire towns and farms were abandoned when there was a return to longer-term average rainfall patterns.
As you leave the Adelaide environment you will quickly notice the changing pattern of terrain as you head to the dryer mid-north section of the Flinders Ranges and approach the Goyder line. North of Burra you will pass through vast fields of wheat but as you head north and east of Hallett the land becomes more sheep oriented, with numerous wind turbines scattered along the ranges either side of the Barrier highway.
The Australian Championships are a 24-hour event, starting at midday on Saturday, 9 May 2020. The championship event will conclude at midday on Sunday, 10 May. The non-championship event is a straight 8-hour event also starting at midday, 9 May, and finishing at 8pm.
The entry system is now open, and the top ranked Australian team of Julie Quinn and David Baldwin from the ACT have been the first to enter and are now listed as Team number 1. Julie and David took out first place in the recent 2019 Australasian Rogaining Championship held at Binalong Bay, Tasmania ahead of their arch-rivals from the west, Dave Symons and Paul Williams.
Getting there is half the fun!
Whether you live in Adelaide or are flying in from interstate or overseas, why not take the hassle out of getting to the event site, and book a seat on our bus which will deliver you to the event site late Friday afternoon and bring you back to Adelaide late Sunday afternoon. Seat prices are a low $35.00 each way, which is much cheaper than hiring a car and/or the cost of fuel to get there and back.
The bus is a great way to meet and socialise with fellow rogainers, as well as being a safe way to get home if you are planning on spending a sleepless night under the stars on the Deceptive Lands in Goyder Country SA.
For those with more time to spare each side of the event dates, why not explore the nearby Clare Valley with its numerous wineries and bike trails? The historic mining town of Burra also has many attractions as well as bakeries and cafes.
If pre-event rogaine training is required, then a visit to the Caroona Creek Conservation Park would be an ideal spot to visit. This was the location for the SARA 2016 Spring 12-hour event and the map is available here.
In recent years the average minimum and maximum temperatures for the 2020 Australasian Rogaining Championships event area during 9/10 May have been 3oC minimum and 16oC maximum. Having good quality thermal clothing is highly recommended and if you are unsure, check out our IO Merino clothing range in the “Buy” section of the event website. Additional weather statistics can be seen in the graph below (thanks to the BOM).
The Hash House camp site is nestled alongside Bri Glen Springs Road and one of the massive, dry creek beds this area is known for. Camping is available among the Mallee trees or in the more open terrain. The picture below shows the Event Coordinator, Craig Colwell (wearing the 2012 ARC event shirt) camped on-site during one of the many field site inspections.
“An Australasian Rogaining Championship in Tassie? Count me in!” was my initial response when I first heard about the rogaine in the picturesque north-eastern corner of Tasmania in the Bay of Fires Conservation Area. I teamed up with Evelyn Colwell after her usual rogaining partner, husband Craig, was sidelined with a dodgy knee.
The first challenge was deciding on what clothing to take, especially after driving past fresh snow on mountain peaks only 50km away on the Friday, and forecasted rain for Saturday. Gloves, beanies, merino layers – how many? – raincoat, rain pants? Can’t fit it all in my pack. In the end, the rain stayed away, the overnight temperature was a pleasant 8C and we even had blue skies and sunshine late Sunday morning.
The Naracoorte Rogaine earlier this year was a milestone for me, being my 100th event (excluding Minigaines and Cyclogaines). My first rogaine was a 12 hr at Mt Crawford in 1994 when I partnered my son, Mark after his partner withdrew. Since then I have averaged 4 events a year. Below are snippets from basic notes I have recorded over the 25 years.
Total distance covered
1st in the 2002 Metrogaine with Steve Cooper and Ross Dawson.
World Championships in Alice Springs in 2016. Also had the largest map.
Most difficult traverse
“The spur” at the Oz Champs in Tassie in 2011. Took about 1½ hours to get between 2 controls down a rocky spur at night, with several 2m drop offs to negotiate. Obviously not a good route choice.
I travelled from Renmark to meet my son who was my team mate, at Mt Crawford on a lovely Saturday afternoon. Witches pointed us to where we should camp and we settled in. To get our maps, it seemed to be overly important that we had a whistle within easy reach so we could blow the ‘safe’ sound as ‘screams will be disregarded’. This seemed a little over the top.
A lot of effort had gone into costumes. A couple of zombies even started the event running with a stiff-legged zombie run; that was commitment to their characters.
We had set our course and scooted off to the north, quickly finding ourselves alone and wondering if we would see anyone else during the event; we need not have worried about that. A couple of checkpoints in and we arrived at “Ruin of despair” where the ghost of a little girl was wandering around in her night dress. Completely freaked out by this, we ducked and weaved around the ruin to avoid her and buzz the checkpoint. As we skedaddled out of the ruin we ran straight into some masked person standing on the other side of the road. Neither of us can tell you what they looked like as we both ran screaming in what we hoped was the right direction.
Take a mix of the ghoulish and the macabre, the living dead, the criminally insane and the deadly virus transmitters! Add to it Voodoo dolls, corpses and coffins and bats in the belfry! This and the accompanying scenes of nightmare-inducing horror was central to the scene of Saturday’s Halloween Fright Night 4-hour rogaine set in almost 25 square km of Mt Crawford forest.
The more than 70 teams and over 200 individuals who joined in for the night weren’t there as the audience but were on-stage in the thick of things, with most dressed up in the Halloween spirit, and some fantastically so. None of us could have ever foreseen the scary controls and the whole amazing scenes of haunted ruins and houses, screams in the night, the manic bowing of ghouls with violin and cello. A control with flashing lights and sound effects! Another deep inside a spider-web shrouded log. The fingers of recent victims of vampires protruding from the eerie still dam waters. The shining eyes of a ghastly face staring up at ‘Rocky Horror’! The House of Horrors with its catatonic zombie and spell-casting witch. And the haunted dolls, far more than most of us care to meet!
Will we ever again see the likes of such a rogaine? I very much doubt it but you never know – I rather suspect it was a one-off. If that’s so then I am so glad that Des Norman phoned me one day and suggested that we form a team. That was my great fortune! What a fun event and one where the only advantage of getting a high score was that you got to witness more scenes of horror!
Many thanks to the wonderful team of people who put this event on – a huge amount of inspiration and work, which I know they all loved being involved with. And thanks to the forest rangers for their enthusiasm for this event with at least one, to my knowledge, providing some of the spooky control effects! And thanks especially to the course-setters and coordinator, and source of the initial inspiration Karen Creepy Wishart, Sally Mutant Caston and Mitzi Howling Krahling! An unforgettable event! Scary, Scary!
Set in beautiful Mallee country only 3 hours’ drive north of Adelaide, the 24-hour Australasian Rogaining Championship (ARC) will introduce competitors to complex creek networks, deep erosion gullies and spurs, fabulous views from the hilltops and absolutely no spinifex!
If the championship event sounds too intimidating, there will be a concurrent 8-hour event, commencing at midday on Saturday, 9 May and concluding at 8pm that evening.
While you’re in the area, explore some of the local attractions such as the Burra mine site. Known in South Australia as The Monster Mine, in the 1850s it was the largest mine in Australia, and produced 89% of the world’s copper. Grab a Burra Heritage Passport Key from the visitor centre and visit some of Burra’s historic places or, on the drive out to the rogaine site, stop at Cobb and Co Corner to grab a selfie in front of the Midnight Oil House. Stay a few days in the Clare or Barossa Valleys and soak in the region’s best wines and food.
With John driving us through Adelaide suburbs on our way to Mt. Torrens, Peter and I took the new Silva orienteering compass out of its box and read the instructions on how to align the compass on the map and make allowance for the magnetic deviation. We were all experienced bush-walkers, but a competitive walk was new to each of us. As members of the Flinders University Bushwalking Club we had accepted a challenge from the much more established Adelaide University Mountaineering Club (AUMC) to compete in the “South Australian Orienteering Championships” – but orienteering was virtually unknown in Australia, and rogaining was yet to be named.
We arrived early, about an hour before the start at noon to find around 10 teams there to compete. The rules were: 24 hours to complete the course with penalties for late return; teams of at least two; team members could be dropped, but only at a hash house, and there must be two remaining to continue. There were two hash houses, and it was compulsory to visit both. There would have been no competitors older than about 30. I don’t recall any female teams/competitors but there may have been. There was at least one other team from Flinders, who we did not expect to beat, and talk of a ‘hot’ team from AUMC that was expected to be unbeatable. Peter, John and I agreed that we would just see how we went, but we were not going to run at all.
There are some magical moments in life when everything goes right and your body is in tune with the moment, you feel invincible and un-stoppable. I’ve been blessed with this sensation only a couple of times in my life, once on a long-distance run, the other playing a game of basketball.
Unfortunately, at La Molena, on 27 July this year, competing in the 16th World Rogaining Championship was not one of those rare moments. It was more a case of enduring physically and mentally, knowing that we had done this before and could do it again, but realising that we had to limit our goals due to a curtailed preparation.
We began planning for this event in November 2018, but just after entering the event, Evelyn, when running across North Tce on the way to work, ran into the side of a moving car and ended up in hospital with a broken hand and badly cut knee. A few weeks later I badly tore my achilles tendon. Neither of these events were an ideal start to our World Championship preparation, especially as the general advice on my achilles tendon was a 12-month recovery period.
Undaunted, we continued with overseas booking including an 8-day hiking tour through the Pyrenees villages as a warm-up just before the event, as well planning a short visit to the mountainous principality of Andorra to acclimatise ourselves to hiking in the big mountains.
Written by Stephen Gray – one half of the winning team
I like the 15-hour roving rogaines in SA. Love them! 15 hours in 24. All the good bits of the 24 hour events without all that sleep deprivation. Hide and seek, chatting around the campfire, a good sleep, and a chance to go out again in the morning. Better than two rogaines in one weekend!
I tried to get my rogaining partner, Cath, to write a quick race report. She threatened to take a photo of my back and just write that she followed this. That’s not entirely true, but didn’t change who would write this.
The forests around Naracoorte gave us a significantly different rogaine. Soft underfoot, great! The feet thanked the setters for that. Electric fences, and plenty of them. Hmmm… Lots of trees, not so sure about ‘A pine tree’, in a sea of green. Some of the controls were challenging to find more so from certain directions than others. One presented us with quite a challenge when collecting it after the event.
It was a welcome surprise when long time climbing and bush walking friend, Shaw Callen, messaged me in April to see if I was interested in tackling the upcoming Bendleby Ranges Rogaine. I had previously been there in 2008 with Steve Frigo coming a respectable 7th out of 28 teams.
I had rogained with Shaw in three 24-hour events previously with varied success. Our best result had been coming 6th out of 36 teams in 2009.
As I write this with sore legs, aching shoulders and tired mind that’s contemplating a third coffee; I think back to the energetic optimism before the Rogaine. All memories of pain from previous events has conveniently magically disappeared, I somehow think this will be different. It’s only 4 hours! But somehow the last hour always has me questioning my motivations. With cramping legs, fading light and a futile race against the clock; the temptation to throw it in and crash one of the many suburban BBQ’s polluting the street with their heavenly scent was overwhelming. Despite the pain, it won’t be long before I’ll want to do it all over again.
There’s a reason we keep coming back and this event is a prime example. Set in the beautiful leafy suburbs and steep foothills of south-eastern Adelaide; Worth the Waite was bound to offer a combination of pleasant easy walking/running/pram pushing, mixed with grueling hills and incredible views over Adelaide. The afternoon was a warm one, but the gully breeze was ever present ready to cool sweat encrusted Rogainer faces. As everyone gathered for the briefing on the lush lawns of Waite Campus, we all observed a minutes’ silence to honor the victims of the recent New Zealand shooting massacre. The start that followed was a somber and silent one, with none of the usual rushing excitement.
It was apparent that most teams were out to get the painful and grueling hills out of the way first, with a mass migration of Rogainers heading straight up the steep rocky single track to 81. Things were only going to get better from there with incredible, uninterrupted views over Adelaide and a cooling breeze off the coast. The field thinned out quickly as everyone dispersed on their carefully planned routes, some opting for the mansion lined leafy streets of Springfield, while others headed to the steep, dry scrubland and open paddocks of Brown Hill. Some gluttons for punishment (like us) decided that 1 major hill wasn’t enough and pushed up Pony Ridge track or Randell Park up to Belair. Others (perhaps more sensibly) chose to keep to the foothills and suburbs of Lynton and Shepherds Hill, opting for distance over climb.
We originally planned to pick up every control except the three in Randell Park. It became apparent at the top of Brown Hill, then 100% confirmed going up Pony Ridge track that we’d have to miss a significant portion of the southwest corner. The top of Pony Ridge saw us rapidly flagging with just under 2 hours to go, so a new route was planned which involved a more direct route back through Randell Park. As energy, light and time dwindled, more controls were sacrificed in the vain attempt to get back in time. The slight incline to the hash house from the West seemed to go on forever, but eventually we reached the wonderful beacon of light, 6 minutes late but happy. Pizza, watermelon, coffee, doughnuts awaited tired and hungry Rogainers. A perfect ending to another fantastic Rogaine.
Thanks go to the incredible course setters, organisers and volunteers that made it all happen. It was a challenging but thoroughly enjoyable day and I think a lot of the other smiling faces out there would agree. See you at the Velogaine!