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.
“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.
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!
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.
They are part of life; sometimes the number of decisions we need to make can be paralyzing. Some decisions we make are great; some awful (I’ll bet you had a particularly bad one spring to mind with that statement!)
Rogaining is a sport based on strategy, decision making, navigation and stamina. It’s a sport where average participants can compete well against naturally gifted athletes. Of course, if you can run fast and long AND make great decisions when navigating, you are probably going to do very well.
The 2018 Australian Rogaining Championships, or ‘Sun SEQer rogaine’, was held in the Gympie Region of Queensland. My rogaining partner and I were lucky enough to receive support from the Nigel Aylott Memorial Fund to cover our travel expenses to and from the event. We represented the University of Adelaide, and have participated in a few 24-hour events before, so knew what we were getting into. We are by no means a highly competitive team. However, even the Australian Championships is not an event only for the elites… every-day people can enter it as well and still have fun!
We decided to make a holiday of this year’s National Champs being held in Gympie Queensland, driving via Brisbane to spend a couple of days with our youngest daughter.
We made our way to Gympie to arriving early enough to set up before Craig was to attend the ARA Delegates meeting at 2 pm. Doug Gillott, also from the SARA committee turned up for this in good time, so I was let off and could prepare my backpack and spend the rest of my time relaxing. A thunderstorm was forecast for the afternoon, and though some thunderous clouds came by, nothing came of them. This was quite fortunate as the grasses were very dry and lightning strikes could have been disastrous.
Saturday once again dawned clear and very warm and 9 am came all too soon to collect our maps. There were some very notable features regarding the map;
1. It was large, the size of a small tablecloth, though still a 1:40,000 scale;
2. There was an All-night cafe (ANC), yay;
3. The controls were really, really spread apart averaging 2.2 ks, we even had a 4k leg (groan); and
4. There were plenty of water stations (yay), only a few had controls nearby and none had points (groan).
Setting the Hello-Wiliena rogaine was an amazing experience that I shared with my two boys. This was the first bush rogaine event that I had been involved in organising. In the early stages of the event preparation, my contribution to the setting / vetting process was limited; providing input at the armchair stage in Adelaide. However, because my sons were still on school holidays in the week leading up to the event, there was a great opportunity for them to be involved in the process and go hiking around the Flinders Ranges.
Leading up to our 2018 State Championship event, the son of the landowners of Holowiliena, Todd just starting a mapping assignment for a school subject. As such the rogaine map became a focal point for Todd and his family and they were all keen to learn about the map symbols, contour lines, the various north lines and how to use a compass.
Don’t let anyone tell you different. Finding an orange and white marker with the value of 90 points, in the dark, late at night after pace counting on bearing for a kilometre[s] gives you the biggest rush, it is like winning your very own lottery!
If you want to explore our state’s jaw-dropping vistas. Then take a look at this crazy sport called Rogaining, because the organisers supply the location and you get to create your very own adventure!
Jenny Casanova’s report on the Ridgy Didge 2017 Australian Champs rogaine near Cooma with Alex Tyson.
We hadn’t rogained together for 15 years; not since the 2002 ARC in Namadgi NP which her late husband Geoff Mercer set when their daughters were very small (and very cold on that frosty night). Obviously our fitness is a long way from when we came 3rd women’s in the 2000 World Rogaining Champs in NZ, but we were well matched and it was easy to fall back into the old partnership. I’d been looking forward to this event because the photos on the website made it look like nice open forest, not too steep and with hopefully no nasty surprises, and so it proved. There were lots of subtle contours out there and a complex network of ridgelines and creeks, some with steep erosion gullies often skirted by strips of dense bushiness.
The annually held Intervarsity Championships are held concurrently with the Australian National Rogaine Championships. This year, the championships were held south of Canberra on the 5th -7th of May. The Intervarsity competition pits teams of university students from the same university against each other.
I was lucky enough to receive support from the Nigel Aylott Memorial Fund to cover my travel expenses to and from the event. Representing the University of Adelaide, I had only competed in one 24hr rogaine before this event, so I knew what I was in for, but as it turned out, nothing could truly prepare us for 24 hours of ups and downs.
The Australasian Rogaining Championships were held on 11-12 February near Waikaia, in the Southland region of the South Island of New Zealand. My sister, Karen, and I flew into Queenstown, and took the two-hour bus ride through verdant rolling hills to the Hash House site, nestled between very large hills (small mountains?) dotted with sheep.
After a drizzly, foggy Friday night, Saturdays early morning cloud dissipated and it turned into quite a warm and moderately humid day. The map, 1:40000 with 20 metre contours, was understandably large and encompassed the western mountain range of the valley we were camped in. We decided to head to the southern area of the map, where we determined there was less mountain climbing and fewer beech forests (and therefore less sand flies!)
If you’re one of those people who still haven’t heard about the hard core sport of Rogaining which is a hybrid of Orienteering and Adventure Racing, now’s your chance to take notes and set your sights on your next adventure.
My name is Sef and this is my story about a geocacher who wants to be a rogainer.
I have a 15 year old son, Callum, who three years ago could not think of anything worse than hiking in inhospitable terrain.
In the ensuing years, Callum discovered there is more to life than playing FIFA and Call of Duty. We started attending group gym sessions three times a week and Callum has now became almost fanatic about his fitness and strength.
“Nick, do you reckon we’re in the outback yet?” asks my team-mate Jackson.
“Nah, I think you’re meant to know you’re there when you get there,” I reply.
It’s Friday night and we’re cruising up the highway from Adelaide with two Tasmanian rogainers we’d hired a car with, and we’re about to tuck into very traditional Australian food at the Railway Hotel in Peterborough, where you can have your steak ‘surf and turf’ (with prawns on it; don’t worry I hadn’t heard of it either), there is unlimited cauliflower cheese in the bain-marie, and the prices belong in the late 1990s. We make it in our hire-car in to the campsite, pitch tents in Mallee woodland, I discover my sleeping mat blows up like a balloon so can’t be inflated, and we await the morning.
This was the rogaine we definitely were not going to do, not because we didn’t want to, but because of finances, work commitments, lack of holidays, etc. etc. etc. Plus, only two months ago during the World Championships in Finland, we said that we would never do another ‘24 hour all-nighter’. But here we were at the airport, with heaps of luggage on our way to the Capertee National Park in NSW, because this was ‘superb rogaining country’, according to the pre-event hype.
My ideal rogaine preparation involves a schedule of some months of regular and frequent running, hiking and generally replicating the physical stresses of a rogaine. In the lead up to the 2015 edition of the Spring 12 hour this didn’t happen. Obligations, temptations, frustrations, life and other inconveniences conspired against my grand preparation designs. Going into the last days before the event all I’d managed was a few short runs in the park. Ah well, I figured at least I wasn’t suffering any major illnesses or injuries: my sometimes troublesome knees weren’t bothering me, I was finally rid of an annoying plantar wart and apart from a mild chest cold I was, I thought, in okay health. The cold had lingered for a while and half threatened to become bronchial so I thought maybe a dose of antibiotics was in order. I booked an appointment with the GP.
A bit over a week out from the Roo-gaine, there I was describing my symptoms to the doctor, expecting a prescription and nothing more. After a modicum of examination the doctor said ‘You might be having an extended heart attack.’ A WHAT?!?! He calmed me by saying that it was probably just an infection but ‘to be sure’ he’d have me do an electrocardiogram (ECG). I was wired up and tested by a nurse who instructed me to wait to see the doctor for the results. After a longish wait the doctor emerged and appeared a little more concerned than I would have liked. He said the ECG was ‘not quite right’ and that after discussions with a cardiologist colleague of his I was to have a blood test. If the results of that test were positive I was to go straight to hospital; if they were negative I’d undergo more testing and a consult with the cardiologist. And the good news?
After competing overseas in the World Rogaine Championship in Finland, it was very comforting to be back on home soil, for a typical well run local event with great Hash House food, a teslin map and lots of kangaroos.
It was time to get a team together for the Kuipto 6 hour Rogaine so my Rogainer team constant Tania put the call out. Very quickly we had a new team together. Tania, Nikki and myself who have a couple of rogaines under our belt, Michelle and Kerry who were game enough to join us for the first one. So nominated team captain Tania registered The YUMmy Chicks! Aptly named as we are all doing Yurrebilla Ultra Marathon this year! Let the planning begin!
Lot’s of communication about required food and supplies for the day and how we were getting there. Most importantly Michelle volunteered to supply the bubbles for the finish! Awesome! All set! And the day arrived!
Woke up in the Arctic Circle, at Kiilopaa, Finland, to fine sunny day with an expected maximum temperature of about 20 degrees. Slightly warmer than what we were hoping for. Transferred our entire route planning gear to our tent in the restricted “Planning Area” and collected our “non waterproof paper” maps at just after 9am. Spent about an hour planning our course and marking up our maps based on a very conservative 60km straight-line distance.
During our visit to Scotland in the lead up to this event, we did a number of walks over the Scottish moors encountering lots of slow boggy ground. Expecting the Finland terrain to be similar we didn’t want to overset our course and were initially only going to work on about 50km. However after trialling a bit of the Rogaine practice map we upped our route distance to 60km as the ground was considerably firmer and in general very pleasant to traverse, a lot of it with a small amount of sponginess underfoot, unlike the bone jarring hardness we normally have.
Yes, I’m one of those SARA volunteers who loves to teach novices how to rogaine. At the Asthma Foundation rogaine on the Saturday in Kuitpo Forest I was one of the ‘experts’ assisting teams understand what a rogaine was, and assisted one of the top fund-raising teams in their route planning.
I always tell novice teams to ‘look carefully at what’s around the control. Look at the contours, any tracks, creeks and high points. And don’t forget that the control is in the exact centre of the circle.’ Great advice – you’d think I’d remember to take that advice myself, wouldn’t you?
I’ve been rogaining since 2004 (ironically, my first event was set by Mark and Ella as well) and have never been fortunate enough to come 1st overall. My desire to improve has pushed me into running, both trail and road running. Many years later I’ve now run three Yurebilla Ultra-Marathons, two road marathons and managed 185km at the Yumigo 24hr event in 2014.
With this in mind, it was time to build a 6 hr team that could do some damage at Kuitpo.
Kuitpo was to be the Rogaine of redemption. I don’t think Dion, my rogaining partner, or myself actually said it out loud, but we definitely had a point to prove… probably to ourselves more than anyone else.
Sarah Murphy, Australian Adventurer & Trail Runner