You hear the wise, navigationally non-challenged, older rogainers bandy about phrases such as ‘It’s all in the route planning’, or ‘Stay on the ridges’, or ‘Always keep your map orientated to the north’, or ‘Travelling fast on the flats is better than slogging through the ranges’.

My daughter, Bethany, and I are now in our fifth year of rogaining, and I have to say that we’re slow learners. Every time we set off on a new rogaine, we’re convinced that we’ve got the best possible route. We plan carefully, navigate to the best of our ability (which is slowly improving), and hope for the best. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Those sweet controls, where you fear the worst, but nail them are just as memorable as those buggers that you search and search for and never find.

The recent State Champs in Argadells brought into clear focus all of the wise words of the rogaining elite. Our team, consisting of Bethany, my sister – Karen, and I can now verify their accuracy.

‘It’s all in the route planning’ – well, yes – we planned, and when we got too tired, and the Hash House was only a couple of kays away, we re-planned and headed home for dinner and a good night’s sleep. Our original route plan was good – but you can always make it better… J (though maybe not so competitive!)

‘Stay on the ridges’ – Yes, we can vouch for that now. We made some tactical errors in trying to navigate along the twisting, snake-like creek beds, and decided to cut our losses and head for the hills. There were some glorious ridge lines that allowed you to see the lie of the land from above which made navigating so much simpler. (Especially between controls 67/86 and 93, or between 56 and 66.) I’ve now learnt my lesson and will look more for those ridge lines in future rogaines.

‘Always keep your map orientated to the north’ – We certainly learnt our lesson with this one. We are ashamed to admit we got a little lost. Both Karen and I continuously keep our maps orientated to the north, but once darkness had fallen and we’d found control 66, we then came across the safety loop road. We both relaxed (bad move), assumed we were travelling south and headed off along the track without further consulting our compass or map (very bad move). We then got to the point we thought control 57 was and started searching. The map wasn’t quite marrying with what we were seeing, and we were even at a sign posted track junction, but we were so convinced that we’d been travelling south, that we continued to try to make the map fit our pre-conceived view. We were just reaching the point of admitting defeat and deciding to backtrack to control 66, when our knights in shining armour appeared (you know who you are, ‘coz we don’t!) and pointed us in the right direction. We’d actually been travelling east and not south and were a kilometre away from where we thought we were. A very humbling experience…

‘Travelling fast on the flats is better than slogging through the ranges’ – more wise words. We heeded them on the Sunday morning and flew around the north eastern section of the map, picking up more points than if we had slogged it along the ranges.

All in all we had a fabulous rogaine. Saw some beautiful countryside, a couple of yellow-footed rock wallabies, many other kangaroos and wallabies, and thankfully, no snakes. We learnt some valuable lessons, which we will hopefully use wisely in subsequent rogaines.

Thanks to the Rounds, Vinalls and Milnes for all their hard work setting and vetting a great event.

Jo Powell

PS For those who are interested in routes and times, we entered the 24 hour event, but only went out for 12 ½ hours. On the Saturday we did the hilly north western section, travelled 30km and collected 640 points in 9 ½ hours. On the Sunday we did the flat north eastern section, travelled 18km and collected 330 points in 3 hours. (If we’d entered the 12 hour, we would have dropped the last 20 point control and come 4th overall.)