The Road Not Taken

Confessions of a Velogaine course setter, Bruce Greenhalgh

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The final stanza of Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’

I imagine that many rogainers can relate to the sentiment expressed in Robert Frost’s famous poem because route choice can make ‘all the difference’. However, the poem is usually interpreted as a celebration of individualism, a call to venture off the beaten track, to go your own way and do your own thing. That’s a perfectly valid reading of the poem. The origin of the poem, though, is less elevated. Frost actually wrote it as a joke, making fun of a poet friend of his, Edward Thomas, who was an inveterate procrastinator and who, when they went walking in the woods together, would agonize over the choice of paths and often later rue the path they’d taken.

Edward Thomas, I suggest, would probably have made a less than perfect rogainer. I’ve learnt that when faced with two (or more) route choices that appear to take roughly the same time the best thing to do is to decide on one quickly and not give ‘the road not taken’ any head space once the decision has been made.

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The Life Aquatic?

By Bruce Greenhalgh (half of team 88 with Steve Sullivan)

A knackered nautical navigator of Noarlunga continues with the maritime theme as he reports on the four-hour rogaine.

It’s going back a bit in the movie archives, but those who have seen the 1987 film ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ will probably recall the irreverent DJ, played by Robin Williams, describing the weather by declaring, ‘It’s hot! It’s damned hot!’ It’s a description that could equally be used for this year’s four-hour event.

I guess it could have been hotter. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in following the weather forecast in the days preceding the event. Heat wave conditions prevailed and a day in the high thirties was a possibility. Fortunately, Saturday was ‘only’ forecast to reach 31 degrees. It was, however, ‘damned hot’.

We devised our route more-or-less assuming we’d be okay running (not necessarily that fast) in the heat. And we had a few escape routes if our plans capsized. Initially things went well enough. We started by heading south to the nearest control (32), then onto the river plain before heading north into the ‘burbs. By the time we’d changed tack and headed to the coast we were alone, which suited us fine. It means no distractions and we are just silly enough to think that on such occasions maybe we’ve got it right and everybody else has got it wrong. Whatever the case, it was plain sailing. By the time we passed the Port Noarlunga jetty we were again seeing other teams and so it remained for the rest of the day. There were, of course, hordes at the pirate ship, lured by the promise of treasure and the chance of a close encounter with SARA’s equivalent of Jack Sparrow (Jacqueline Sparrow?).

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Just a suburban boy

Written by Bruce Greenhalgh (part of team 72 with Chris Graves and Craig Bettison)

As we finalised our route choice for ‘The Secret Garden’ minigaine I was reminded of a song from way back. It was Dave Warner’s from the Suburbs, Suburban boy. After flirting with the idea of tackling the lower slopes of Black Hill we decided to avoid the Black Hill controls completely. We figured we could spend all our time and energy in the suburban parts of the map, thus avoiding the time and energy sapping climbs required of a Black Hill visit. We were to be then, ‘suburban boys’ rather than bold bush walkers/trail runners.

I imagine we weren’t alone in this, but I suspect that not so many know of Dave Warners’ minor hit from the seventies. That’s a pity because it’s a good song and one that still resonates with me all these years later. Like ‘Wreckless Eric’s Whole Wide World and Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ Wake up and make love to me it’s at the antipodes to the usual pop song romantic situations and sentiments. So… you now know far more about my musical tastes than you ever wanted to know, and wasn’t this report supposed to be about rogaining?

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Reflections on the ARC 2023 in Goobang NP, NSW

Written by Craig Colwell (Team 23)

Evelyn and I travelled to NSW to compete in the 43rd Australian Rogaining Championships which were being held in and around the Goobang NP, located east northeast of Parkes, NSW on 30 September to 1 October.

The Hash House was adjacent to Lake Endeavour, which kept the temperature slightly cooler during the night.  Paul Guard (ARA president) has provided some excellent aerial footage of the camp site which can be viewed on the NSW Rogaining website here. Unfortunately, the temperature during the event was in the low 30s during the daytime with a strong northerly breeze blowing and still very warm during the night unless you were near a waterway or water body. The hot weather had a detrimental effect on our and other team’s performances.

The course setters created a very well-presented and detailed map (A1 size at 1:25,000 scale) with 85 controls to collect with a total of just over 5000 points.  Only 4 teams managed more than 60% of the course, with most of the teams covering less than 40% of the map.

There were six water drops plus the Hash House and a remote ‘All Night Café’. All were needed in the warm conditions to keep hydration up.

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The new ETS: how you can make money while rogaining

Written by Bruce Greenhalgh

No doubt you are aware of ‘carbon offset’ schemes that facilitate companies meeting their emission requirements by allowing them to buy credits from other companies who have excess credit or engage in activities that directly reduce carbon in the atmosphere, for example reforestation or carbon sequestration. These ‘Emission Trading Schemes’ (ETS) strike me as a bit questionable. Does this vicarious climate change action really make a difference? I’m reminded of that dieters’ joke about it being okay to drink a can of coke provided you later cancel out the calories by drinking a can of diet coke. Yeah, right.

Still, it got me thinking about the whole concept of doing things by proxy and the idea of buying credits from somebody who was doing something you didn’t want to do. The Australian Government Department of Health recommends that adults should exercise for – depending on exercise intensity – about three hours a week. There are a lot of Australians (millions!) who don’t meet the recommendation preferring to settle into the sofa with the TV remote rather than exercise. Not rogainers though, even doing a three-hour minigaine means they meet the guideline, and any other exercise done in the same week puts them in exercise credit. What if you could trade that credit to those wishing to lead more sedentary lives? If there was an ‘Exercise Trading Scheme’? Think how many exercise credits – ‘couch offsets’ – you could build up in a 24-hour event! You could get rich by rogaining.

If there was such an ETS in operation at least Steve and I would have had something to show for our endeavours at the State Champs at Oraparinna. As it stands, we only have the memory of probably our worst ever rogaine performance. Perhaps being team 13 had something to do with it.

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All Over Oraparinna

Written by Nick Somes (from Victoria)

The Lead Up

I commenced rogaining in 2018 in Victoria and rapidly fell for the sport in a major way through 2019 when I competed in my first 12 and 24-hour events. The covid years were hard in Victoria, with very little rogaining and no prospect of interstate travel to compete. When we emerged, my regular partner and I were keen to expand our horizons and take on challenges in new terrains. The long hours of lockdown had led me down the internet rabbit hole to the SA Rogaining website where I discovered past courses and maps. I spent many an hour looking at past courses, route planning and thinking about past events.

Too much thinking about SA events, led to a plan to head over for the 2022 State Championships at Wilkatana; it was my first experience of the Flinders Ranges and was a baptism of fire. As my partner said, “We needed to bring our A game and fell well short”. Challenged, rather than disheartened, I vowed to return in 2023. Mission accomplished, I have now competed in SA’s 15-hour roving rogaine and the 2023 State Champs.

Sometimes getting to an event is as much a challenge as competing and my path to Oraparinna required three goes at getting a teammate. My usual teammate was never a starter and at the last minute my planned team fell through, so I rolled the dice and called Derek Morris who I had partnered with twice before in Victoria. Derek immediately said yes, and we were set. I was somewhat nervous as Derek is a living legend of the sport in Victoria, having been involved for over 40 years, winning and setting many major events.

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“The More I Practice… The Luckier I Get”

Written by Jonathan Schubert, one half of the winning team at Witchitie 15-hour

‘The more I practice… the luckier I get.’ Popularised by golfer, Gary Player

There were many things that went right over the course of this event. I think that some of those were the result of practice and learnings put into place over the last few years. Some of them were pure luck. And possibly some of it was that by doing enough things right we put ourselves in a position to get lucky.

I have been reflecting on this event over the last couple of weeks and I have no idea which of these options is more true about this wonderful weekend.

To get things started here are two things about me.

The Process Refiner

 My brain is happy when there is a process to refine and optimise. I enjoy learning the hows and whys of things. I love a well refined process that can lead to a consistently good outcome. I tend not to mind ‘mistakes’ too much as long as there is something that can be learnt from and a process can be refined.  This is true in a general sense as well as applicable to fairly small things.

After a discussion in the car on the drive up to the event the mindset that we took into this event as a team was: to be in the moment, to enjoy the process and see what we can learn.

Playful Banter

‘Tribalism implies the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates one member of a group from the members of another group’. Wikipedia: Tribalism

One element of my personality is that I enjoy a bit of playful banter. To help with this banter it is always helpful to identify a tribe to stick with and in doing so also identify this opposing tribe to act as a pantomime villain. A good solid bit of rivalry. The Adelaide Crows vs Port Adelaide Power.  Tribalism can have its issues but it can also be a part of some playful fun.

I haven’t been around rogaining a great deal but in the period that I have been involved it has seemed that there is some playful tribalism in the rogaining world … the Rogainers vs the Trail Runners.

The trail running tribe has their identifying uniform: running shorts, light weight shoes and a running pack. They also seem to move a bit faster but are prone to poor planning and navigation errors.

The rogaining tribe has their uniform: pants, gaiters, shoes with leather uppers and a daypack style pack. They move at a consistent ‘march’ regardless of terrain along with solid planning and exceptional navigation.

In the past I have always identified as a part of the trail running tribe. I have made jokes to my teammates about the silliness of cork boards, pins and string.

In the lead up to this event these elements of my personality sat in conflict with each other. I can see that there is value in the processes of the rogaining tribe, but I have been reluctant to betray my tribe and move to the dark side. In the end the process refiner won the battle. I got my hands on some gaiters and tried them a couple times to get used to them. My teammate (Barry McBride) and I discussed tactics and planning, and that ended with him buying a cork board and pins and sourcing some string.

I hoped to find a place to exist in between the two tribes.

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Fifteen Hours of Fame?

SARA’s roving reporter, Bruce Greenhalgh, reflects on fame and the 15-hour roving, Witchitie, event

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” – Andy Warhol

There it was at the entrance to the Art Gallery of SA’s recent Andy Warhol exhibition, his famous quote. Indeed, Warhol is as famous for that statement as he is for his Campbell Soup can paintings and his Marilyn Monroe silk screen prints. Me being me, the (very slight) coincidence of it being fifteen minutes of fame and the next rogaine being a fifteen hour event had me pondering the question of whether Warhol had considered the possibility of rogainers (as part of ‘everybody’) achieving brief world-wide fame when he made his much celebrated utterance.

The answer, especially after the Witchitie 15/8 hour rogaine, has to be an emphatic ‘No’. Here’s why; firstly, the sport of rogaining is far from well known. If you want to be famous it’s best to engage in something that lots of people know about or are interested in – football, cricket, music etc. My experience is that to tell somebody that you rogaine is to then, invariably, have to explain the sport. You don’t even have the out, as practiced by Greens leader, Adam Bandt, of telling somebody to ‘Google it’. If they do the most likely conclusion they’ll reach is that you’re involved in something that promotes hair regrowth, as a Google search takes you to sites selling a hair replacement treatment. As I now have a bald spot I can see some advantage if this was the case but, it clearly isn’t, and there were moments on the weekend when I could have torn my hair out so… So, it’s strike one against getting famous through rogaining.

If you’re going to be famous it’s also advisable to carry out your fame generating activity at a well-known and populous spot, like New York or Paris. Carrieton is a fine little town (and the pub reopening seems to have given it more life) but it doesn’t have the recognition factor or population of, say, London or Rome, and telling somebody you’re going to Carrieton usually, again, requires some explaining. To compound things the Witchitie rogaine was 50 plus kilometres from this not-well-known small town. And to make this an unequivocal ‘strike two’, rogainers, once the event starts, are hell bent on getting more remote, even from fellow rogainers (we had a period of about 4 hours on Saturday afternoon when we didn’t see any other teams) making the acquisition of fame unlikely.

Still, after the whip crack and as we jogged away, I was hopeful of doing something notable in the 15 hours. As it turned out, by late afternoon I had attracted a crowd of eager followers and was well and truly in the spotlight. Unfortunately, the followers were flies and the spotlight was a blinding low winter sun as we headed west. As if endless loose rocks and Copper Burr prickles weren’t enough.

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Partner matching and chocolate frogs: musings from the ‘McLaren No Flats’ Velogaine

By Bruce Greenhalgh

I’m sure I wasn’t alone in checking out the weather forecast in the lead up to the Velogaine. A week out from the event the predictions were dire and all my checking and hoping didn’t improve things as Saturday neared. On the day, my concerns look set to be realized as the rain arrived as we prepared for the start. I had contemplated an event where I’d be cold, wet and suffering for four hours, but shortly after the start the rain stopped and it stayed fine, with the weather gods, surprisingly, delivering ideal conditions. It was to be a Velogaine remembered for what the weather didn’t do, instead of what it did do.

So, I didn’t get cold and wet, but I still suffered. My cycling form in recent times has ranged from pretty ordinary to pretty awful and as we embarked on the climb up Pennys Hill Road to the range heights it was clear to me that I was on a ‘pretty awful’ day. That might not have been such an issue if my partner, Kerstin, and I weren’t such an ‘odd couple’. Kirsten is so much faster than me (even on my good days) that it’s embarrassing. She sailed up the hill while I cursed every pedal stroke. Kerstin is, though, a novice when it comes to route planning and navigation so that’s where I could contribute. Our pairing wasn’t so much a coincidence of talents, but a combination of them, an exercise in synergy. Importantly, our event mindset remained on par throughout the Velo.

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In Search of Lost Time

By Bruce Greenhalgh

I have a confession. I don’t really understand gravity. Oh, I know the basics, what goes up must come down, why the apple fell on Isaac Newton’s head, all that stuff. What I don’t understand is why gravity works in such an exaggerated fashion. Let me explain by reference to the ‘Stirling Pump’ 4-hour rogaine. As the record number of participants will attest, the Stirling area affords gravity plenty of opportunity to strut its stuff. The terrain is, to put it mildly, hilly. I can’t recall a truly flat section anywhere on the course. When I was running downhill this was fine. Good, in fact, and I found myself thinking, ‘I can run for four hours. It’s not that hard.’ Unfortunately, when the road or track turned upwards my thoughts ran (at least something was running) along the lines of, ‘Will this climb ever end? I can’t take much more of this.’ It’s such a complete and extreme change in what I experience that it challenges my comprehension. I can appreciate that gravity can help or hinder, I don’t get why it does so in such a dramatic way.

Another thing I don’t fully understand is time: how its passage is so variable. For example, take the five or ten minutes before the start of a rogaine when everybody assembles and last-minute instructions are given. Time almost stands still. At Stirling, the course setter, Guy Schubert, did his best to make the time pass, but no mere mortal can change this phenomenon. Conversely, as soon as the rogaine starts, time begins leaking away faster than water from a Camelbak bladder whose top hasn’t been properly tightened.

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Asides from the West Side

SARA’s roving reporter, Bruce Greenhalgh, shares his thoughts on 2022’s final rogaine – the West Side Story Minigaine

Lying on a concrete footpath isn’t something that normally has any appeal for me, yet immediately after November’s Minigaine it was not only all I wanted to do, but all I could do. I was spent. It’s true that I could have chosen to lie on lawn, but the grassed area in front of the Hash House had little breeze, and I needed a breeze, and walking to the oval beyond the car park where there was both breeze and lawn was beyond me. And as I lay there, I couldn’t help but think that maybe I was getting too old for this sort of thing.

And there was a clue, wasn’t there, in the name of the rogaine, West Side Story? A clue that it wasn’t an activity aimed at senior citizens? Anybody familiar with the musical will know it’s about young people; young people with the energy to dance, to fight, to fall in love, to dash around and do dramatic things. Just thinking about all that activity makes me pine for a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down. I’m also led to consider that West Side Story is based on Romeo and Juliet and to contemplate the emotional freight carried by the young protagonists during the closing scene of Shakespeare’s play. In case you’ve forgotten what happens to the ‘star-crossed lovers’, Juliet takes a potion that makes here appear to be dead so as to avoid getting married to somebody who isn’t Romeo. Unfortunately, Romeo sees her in this death like state and thinking she has died and that life isn’t worth living without her, he tops himself. Then Juliet revives and does the same – an episode that has been described as ‘one helluva first date’. I ask you, is this sort of carry-on the territory of holders of a Seniors Card? Clearly not.

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Dreams Really Do Come True (WRC 2022)

World Rogaine Championships 2022 Czech Republic
By Meredith Norman

Abigail and Joanna George and I formed the Dream Team in 2015 during our first rogaine together. We dreamt on our maps during the planning time in an attempt to embed the map in our brain. Hence, we became the Dream Team.

We were all introduced to rogaining through our fathers. My first rogaine was with my dad, Desmond Norman, in 2011 – we competed in the roving 12-hour at Palmer. I vividly remember being too afraid of the night creatures conjured up by my father’s unique humour to enter the cemetery to collect a control. I’ve come a fair way since then!

Abigail, Joanna and I have been inseparable friends since 2015 competing in orienteering events across the country and many local SA rogaines. When not orienteering we would spend weekends busking together on Rundle Mall. The money from busking funded our many matching outfits (including the tops worn in the WRC).

In 2016 on an orienteering camp we wrote a ‘Dream Team bucket list’. This list was an array of crazy activities including attending the World Rogaine Championships (WRC). Well, somehow the stars all aligned, and we ended up spending this European summer together travelling through Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and finishing with the World Rogaine Championships in the Czech Republic.

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Waterworld (15-hour roving rogaine)

Written by Bruce Greenhalgh

Some readers might recall the mid-1990s movie ‘Waterworld’. It starred Kevin Costner, cast as a ‘Mad Max’ style character, and was set in the distant future at a time when the polar ice caps had completely melted and submerged all land. Only a remnant human population had survived by living on artificial floating ‘atolls’. The film rather failed to live up to its massive budget and reviews were, as they say, ‘mixed’. Swayed by them, and away from my penchant for post-apocalyptic tales, I’ve never seen the film. And now I don’t have to because I’ve experienced my own Waterworld, the Ngadjuri Roaming rogaine.

Coordinator extraordinaire, Richard Sprod, told me that Bundaleer had received 80 mm of rain in the days before the event. I’ve no reason to disbelieve him, apart from thinking ‘Only 80 mm?’. I’m struggling to recall a wetter, more sodden, South Australian landscape. The two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen was everywhere, and in abundance. On the upper slopes of hills I found myself traipsing through puddles and anything that looked like a creek had flowing water. For once the blue lines on the map actually, consistently, denoted water instead of representing a mapper’s leap of imagination.

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The Four Horsemen of our Rogaine Apocalypse

By Bruce Greenhalgh

Fun(?) and failure in the Flinders.

The famous four were not, on this occasion, war, famine, pestilence and death, but wind, dust, prickles and dumb decision making. Firstly, the wind, and the Wilkatana ‘24’ will be distinguished from other 24s by the fact that the night before the actual event was as memorable as the rogaine itself. A wind of biblical proportions blew all night battering tents and camper vans and preventing sleep. The ferocity of the wind was attested to by it picking up the Hash House marquee and dumping it, damaged and canvas flapping, tens of metres from its original site.

Conversations the morning after routinely followed this pattern,

‘Did you camp here last night?’

‘Yes.’

‘Did you get any sleep?’

‘No.’

Details of the ordeal were then swapped: the fear of being blown away, the impossibility of sleep and descriptions of the dust that was the wind’s accomplice in camping damnation. A fine dust was blown into my tent and settled on everything. My sleeping bag was dusty, my pillow was dusty, my clothes were dusty and my mouth was dusty.

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Strange Day, Indeed

What did the recent ‘Woodside Wheelers’ Velogaine have to do with an imminent zombie apocalypse? Rogaine tragic Bruce Greenhalgh explains…

Strange Day, Indeed

I’ve watched enough horror films to know that the setting for the end of civilization as we know it, the zombie apocalypse, the invasion from outer space – that sort of thing – is usually a dark and foreboding night with, perhaps, mysterious clouds racing past an angry moon, or thunder, lightning, driving rain and howling winds. It almost always involves hints that something is terribly amiss: birds stop singing, dogs cower in corners and strange, unexplained things happen. And all this is accompanied by an ominous soundtrack that portends dire and cataclysmic events.

The ’Woodside Wheelers’ Velogaine provided a setting seemingly the antithesis of this. The event occurred on a fine, sunny day in the bucolic Adelaide Hills. There was but a breath of wind. The soundtrack, pre-event, was of excited chatter as great plans were made, the calling of greetings to friends and the happy sound of cycling shoes clicking into pedals. All was right with the world, or so it seemed, but as we velogained our way through four hours disturbing auguries and unnatural occurrences spoke of looming disaster.

Firstly, there was the totally inexplicable fact that even though we started and finished at the same point, we climbed more kilometres than we descended. I’m sure of it. A landscape gone mad! The south-east corner of the map was particularly warped in this respect. Were there any descents? Thinking hard I do recall a few brief, blissful moments when gravity was my friend, but the salient memory is of how interminable the climbs were. Riding from control 70 to 61 and then 50 each fresh turn in the road revealed yet another span of ascent and I began to doubt we would ever reach a summit. Would we end up in the climbers’ ‘death zone’? I certainly felt near to expiring.

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Of Lakes and Luck and Elections

By Bruce Greenhalgh

As a frequent contributor to the rogaine email newsletter I now find myself contemplating ideas for reports even before the rogaine is run. ‘The Lakes District’ rogaine, for example, had me entertaining ideas of weaving into a report references to the famous Lake District in England (ignoring the plural/singular discrepancy). I was thinking, in particular, of the poet William Wordsworth who is associated with the Lake District and perhaps contrasting some of his well-known lines about wandering ‘lonely as a cloud’ and discovering ‘golden daffodils’ to the travails of rogaining. On starting the rogaine another contrast presented itself too, that of comparing the beauty of, say, Lake Windemere in England to the first body of water we encountered which was, of course, the Mount Barker effluent ponds. However, the problem with this angle is that while I acknowledge Wordsworth’s place in literature I don’t actually like his work much and so writing about it held little appeal. I also suspected that too many tenuous references to poetry and faraway lakes might turn readers off.

Not to worry, there was always the coincidence of the Twilight rogaine and the State election and so the possibility of writing about rogaine control corflutes that I wanted (desperately) to find as opposed to those election corflutes that I wish would go away. Again, though, there were problems with this theme in that I suspected that a lot of people would be thoroughly sick of election dribble by voting day and reading anything even tangentially about the election would not be appealing.

I’m left then, with the fact that Steve Sullivan and I won (something that occurs with only slightly more frequency than sightings of Halley’s Comet) and trying to anticipate what readers might like to hear from the winners. There is nothing new about a winner writing an event report. Indeed, for a long time it was expected and routinely completed. Those reports often featured detailed descriptions of astute route choice consummated by athletic prowess, intelligent navigation and helpings of grit and determination. As a winner I can attest that those sorts of things are important, but I also have to admit that a win has a lot more to do with luck. Yep. Luck.

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Recollections on the occasion of my 50th Rogaine

by Steven Frigo

I wrote this a year ago but didn’t get around to submitting it but on Saturday at the Mount Barker Lakes Rogaine, Peter Milnes jokingly asked “Are you still rogaining?” and I realised my enthusiasm for the sport is still 110%. The twilight event in March 2021 was my 50th rogaine, and I offer my recollections of this adventure strategy sport, which is so much more than that.

We curse the dark, the wind, the blisters, the head of the watercourse, the watercourse junction, the watercourse bend…… everything about the watercourse, but the moment we cross the finish line all is forgiven.

My first two events were AUMC 24 hour walks; Williamstown in May 1979 and Eden Valley 1980. All I remember was that we had to mark up our maps with the coordinates of the controls, and we were cold. It was another 23 years before I was ready to start again.

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Things to do on a Saturday afternoon

By Bruce Greenhalgh

The Parkland Promenade minigaine provided proof that there is more to life than rogaining. There are, as evidenced by scenes from the minigaine, cricket, golf, soccer and getting married as alternative Saturday afternoon activities. On our clockwise circumnavigation of the Parklands it was cricket we encountered first. My fitter and younger teammate, Phil, even had the wherewithal to watch part of the match whereas my only involvement with it was hoping that a well hit ball wouldn’t make it to the boundary and mean I’d have to run around a fieldsman. It was early in the event, but already any unanticipated obstacles felt like genuine impositions to me.

The cricket continued – a Women’s Big Bash match – on the next oval we ran past, and the obstacles continued in the form of cars parked on an adjacent oval. The parking fee was – wait for it – $17! That’s before, I presume, a charge to get into the Big Bash venue. For another three bucks they could have entered the minigaine and enjoyed free parking! What’s wrong with these people?

Next it was golf, and crossing the links at North Adelaide we may have upset some golfers. No matter, as somebody who regards golf as ‘a good walk spoilt’ I felt no guilt whatsoever about possibly upsetting somebody’s concentration before their tee shot.  I’ll say this about golf though, running across the greens and fairways was a delight after having experienced a bit of the grass seed rich rough of the Parklands.

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Tour De Mt Torrens Race Report

By Andrew Denyer

Our result in this year’s velogaine this year came as a surprise. Before the event, I was thinking that John and I should be able to finish in the top twenty, and if everything went really well, we might even just make it into the top ten.

Fourth overall was a very pleasing result and now as Bruce Greenhalgh (the setter) requested:- “Everything comes with a price though, and people are wanting to know how you did it.”

So here goes.

My first Velogaine experience was with Peter Wilson at the Moculta event in 2017. Fortunately Peter knew what he was doing, so as I observed, a little bit of his velogaining knowledge rubbed off on me. Not everything quite went to plan during the event when we missed a turn, found ourselves on a faint  sandy track, rode over a patch of 3 corner jacks that caused multiple punctures and lost a big chunk of time, but we still had a pretty good day out.

The major lesson that I took away from my first velogaine is that holding a map and riding a bike is not compatible. If you want to keep track of where you are and where you a going a map board is needed.

My next instalment in the art of rogaining came when Doug Gillott asked if I would like to team up with him for the Bingalong Australian Championship being held in Tasmania in November 2019. I was very much the inexperienced apprentice at this event, but due to Doug’s expert tuition I started to learn the basics of route selection, map reading and navigation.

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Conquering Almerta’s Bluff

By Emily Sorensen & Alastair George (Outright winners of Almerta’s Bluff State Champs, Team 38)

Ali and I are orienteers from SA and NSW respectively but we both live in Sydney normally. We were initially meant to be in Adelaide for a week but due to covid that’s become 3 months, so when we saw the 24 hour rogaine was taking place we took the opportunity to try something new.

Our main goal was to stay up all night. We’d decided we would be happy to give up at sunrise if we were over it.

The first 7 hours were really good, we were on a roll and full of energy. We covered almost half our total distance but after stopping for dinner at the hash house we lost a bit of steam. We’d agreed on walking through the night with a few gentle shuffles, but walking quickly turned into plodding and we struggled to keep up our momentum from the day. It was interesting trying out caffeine gels which certainly lifted our spirits for an hour or so, but then we felt the crash even worse when we felt ill for the rest of the event.

Come the morning, we gave running another red hot crack next to and along the ridge. We got off the ridge with about 3 hours left and had plans for a final running push along the flat, but unfortunately the rocky slopes of the ridge seemed make our bodies say no. On the flat, I broke out in itchy hives which resulted in Ali swapping his shorts for my tights. We imagine this would’ve been an interesting scene for someone to come across. We decided to pull the pin and head home shortly after where we hobbled our way to the finish.

The coolest moment for us was when we got up to one of the 90 pointers on top of this big rocky hill and sat down to eat some cold ravioli at about 2am. Below we could see the lights from a town in the far distance, and we felt truly isolated (and a little lonely). Most of the night was spent holding hands, which for Ali was hard work, though I was certainly grateful to kept on my feet.

Coming from an orienteering background, the scale was different and it took a few controls for us to get used to the lack of detail and think bigger in terms of what would be mapped. During the day we didn’t have any navigation issues, but as it got dark and we got more tired we had a couple of minor hiccups. Our biggest mistake was overshooting a control on a track by a kilometre.

It’s a surprisingly addictive sport and we’re definitely looking forward to trying one again soon. Thank you to the organisers and volunteers who make these events possible; it has been a true highlight of our year. The rogaining community are so wonderful, we spoke to lots of people and felt very welcome.

Almerta’s Bluff

By Isaac, Fox and Milla (1st Family, Team 60)

My name is Milla and I’m six years old. Almerta’s Bluff was my first real rogaine. I entered with my dad Isaac and my brother, Fox.

I liked the challenges of the rogaine, like getting control 100 and walking big distances, plus finding control 47 that we lost in the dark. The hardest part was my legs hurting and when it got dark, I was worried about foxes!

When we finished, I was proud to have hiked so far and done a good job.

I’m Fox and I’m nine years old. Three years ago, my dad and I did a rogaine at Almerta Station where we won the family category. I think I’m good at walking long distances.

I like planning where we will go, looking for controls and taking bearings with a compass. My ankles started hurting around 6pm on Saturday night between control 86 and 94, but we didn’t get back to the Hash House until 10pm. My legs felt better the next day.

When we finished, I was relieved that we didn’t have to walk any more!

I’m Isaac and parent to three children, though the youngest is probably yet to reach rogaining ability. My wife and I have always worked at building resilience in our children and I knew Fox at least would keep up and love all the challenges of rogaining.

Three years ago, Fox whinged just two controls in and I carried him plus our gear (including a drone!) for part of that rogaine before he got into it and was racing ahead. This time, Milla was wanting to quit after controls 70 and 60 as we looked for 48 but was largely ignored and went on to race through 85, 100 and 88 – big points for a novice! I held her hand for 99% of the time, to stop her slipping or falling behind, and she probably saved me slipping a couple of times.

It was a real joy working with them to plan day, night and morning routes that fit our ability, then to spend time with them talking about life, our surrounds and the challenges we were tackling.

We planned a route for Saturday to prioritise points in the peak of the day, then be in a point-heavy area with reasonable terrain for sunset onwards. Control 47 from the south in darkness was our only real navigational challenge; Fox was taking excellent bearings almost straight away.

39 to Hash House was a bit of a trudge but they were motivated by dinner!

Our plan for Sunday also worked well, heading NE from HH in a loop we could extend or contract as needed. Our pace was good and I convinced Fox to add controls 34, 62 and 35 which worked well. We came in with a half hour to spare so probably could’ve added 33 as our first control of Sunday and coped.

It might be a while until Milla feels up to another event, but I think Fox is looking to partner up with me again! Like me, he’s driven by the planning and point scoring. I’ll be the weakest link soon enough.

I’m exceptionally proud of both Milla and Fox. There was a bit of whimpering from one and a teary outburst from another, but they survived in good spirits, rebounded well and saw it through. Plus, they like Freddos…

Rogainers of the Lost Park Race Report

By winners Steve Burdett & Camilo Loor Chavez

We entered our first rogaine just over a year ago and have been a team since, completing four more rogaines. We’re both long distance runners and have found the navigation part of rogaining an enjoyable challenge. Upon arrival at the Rogainers of the Lost Park event, we were heckled by our friend Randell, telling us that the carpark was actually a couple of K’s further down the road from where we were parked. Randell’s team have done quite well in previous events, and we had pegged them as the team to beat.

Camilo and I work together and had been talking daily about tactics for this rogaine; we decided we should be able to cover about 32km. At our first look at the map we were quite puzzled. There was no obvious path, and a quick measurement confirmed that we certainly wouldn’t be visiting every control. Steve started joining dots that went together well, making sure we had the three Golden Idol clues early on to avoid having to backtrack. Soon we had a large circle drawn with a small inner loop, with short cuts near the end of our run if needed.

We set off eagerly up the hill and headed for #30, “a little library”. Steve remembered seeing a community bookshelf at the Sheoak Café so we went straight there, but soon realised that was incorrect and perhaps we should focus on map reading rather than prior knowledge!  We turned back, running against the flow of a number of teams, including Randell who gave us more heckling, this time about going the wrong way. Fair call.

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THREE HOURS OF FREEDOM MINIGAINE

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.

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Connecting the dots… Reflections on the Superb(ly Snakey) Sturt in Spring Event

By Bryn Soden

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.

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‘Just a bit further…’ Oi Oi Oi Oladdie

By Olivier Fahy and Annika Danielsson

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.

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Art, Geology and Rogaining: Reflections on our Oi, Oi, Oi, Oladdie experience

By Bruce Greenhalgh

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.

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Reflections of a Novice Rogainer

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.

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Sturt Gorge – Simply Splendid

By Jo Powell – the setter of the 6-hour event

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.

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Binalong Day & Night – Australasian Championships

Written by Jo Powell

“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.

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