Saunder’s Saunter Winners’ Race Report

What the setters thought would be the perfect route
Andrew Kennedy and Zara Soden only missed punching two controls at last weekend’s 6 hour rogaine. Read Andrew’s report to gain an insight into how two people achieved such stunning results…

See the winning route here

We’d arranged to meet at 7.30am race day. I arrived at 7.31am and Zara was out, ready and waiting. We were both pretty pumped up for the event after only making a last minute decision to enter while consuming pizza in Burra the previous weekend. We’d strategised during the week and thought a top 5 finish was possible. We arrived at Saunders Gorge just on 8.45am and set up for maps at 9am.

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A late Middleback race report from 11 year old Max – a member of the winning Family category team

My name is Max. I am eleven years old. My first Rogaine was the 25 hour, 25th anniversary at Wirrabara Forest. Since then I’ve been in a few rogaines in Athelston, God’s Country – Beyond Hell’s Gates, Morialta and also the one near Peterborough. I’ve got to say my favourite one though was the one in the Middlebacks. I came along to this event with Ian Grivell (my Dad) and Adam Mclntosh (my cousin). We got up at four o’clock in the morning to go on a four hour and forty minute drive. It took a very long time!

We collected 1400 points in 13 hours and we walked about 39 km. On Saturday we started at midday like everyone else; we were among lots of people for a while until we reached the hills. My legs got a bit tired after climbing the hills, so I talked a lot so I would think about something else. I was very happy my gaiters arrived a few weeks before the event, because I would have had heaps of scratches if I wasn’t wearing them.

When it was dark and cold we decided to give up on a checkpoint we were searching for and head back to the hash house, but then we accidentally ran into that checkpoint! When we got back to the hash house I was so tired I went straight to bed without dinner. The next morning I decided to have one of the left-over dinners. I chose one without meat because I’m vegan. The meal was delicious. I thank the people who made it and the person who recommended it to me. We left straight after breakfast, one of the dogs took us to one of the checkpoints! I didn’t know his name so I called him Middleback because we were in the Middlebacks. It was a good morning till we were looking for a track that did not exist. But in the end we found the checkpoint that was on the track that wasn’t there. Our team arrived back at the hash house with about five to ten minutes left. We had a nice BBQ. I thank the people who cooked the stuff. When they called out the results our team was very happy for coming 15th place and 1st family. It was exciting to win drinking glasses; it was like Christmas. I really enjoyed it and thank the people who organised it. I’m looking forward to coming to the next event!

In The Middle Of The Night In The Middlebacks – 2014 SARA Championships winners report

After I had really enjoyed the 12 hour with Zara last month, I started to get keen on the idea of the 24 hour at Whyalla, because it sounded like the sort of terrain with no nasty surprises and where a careful navigator could do well. I found a willing accomplice in Steve Cooper, although he warned me that he wouldn’t be able to run much because of a bruised heel sustained orienteering in the Flinders a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been wanting to do a 24 hour with Steve for ages and he didn’t disappoint.

We made it to Whyalla by about 10pm Friday and managed to have our rogaine packs sorted the next morning in time to take advantage of the continental buffet breakfast at the motel (rogaine preparation is all about carbo-loading, for me) and then get to the event site on a sheep station near the Middleback Ranges with enough time to put up the tent I didn’t intend to sleep in, before map handout.

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The Middlebacks

A significant part of the trip to Whyalla was discussing our general plan for this event. Having done a couple of Orienteering events in the Middleback Range meant that we had some idea of the terrain. Also knowing that the moon phase was not suited to night rogaining also influenced our thoughts on the event and how we would approach it.

So even before seeing the map we had decided that we would do an initial loop hoping to be back at the HH by 8 or 9pm.  We could have some HH food, get 3 or 4 hours sleep and head out again just before the moon rose at about 2am in the morning.  While coming back into the Hash House has inherent drawbacks, such extra kilometres to travel without visiting controls and the difficulty in getting started again (especially once the legs have started to seize up), we thought minimizing our time during the darkest part of the night together with being able to do our first loop travelling very light was worth trying.  There were also a number of other factors influencing our decision not to do the full 24 hours.

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Middle Back Roving 12 hours – by Amy Ide

Team 13 Middleback Ranges Report of the 12 hour Roving Rogaine

Team 13. Peter, Elijah and Amy.
With only one 12 hour rogaine behind me (which included a mini nocturnal crisis and a lack of kilometres translating to points) the 12 hour roving event in the Middleback Ranges was an opportunity to redeem myself and get some more experience to improve my rogaining skills.

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The Erskine Valley Escape Route – Craig Colwell

What a great event the 12 hour rogaine is, made even better with some fantastic country to navigate through and perfect rogaining weather. Also competing under a moonless sky certainly added a touch of intrigue which saw some of the more adventurous teams come undone (including us).

As I was involved in some pre-event organisation Evelyn was tasked with the route setting duties and by the time I got back to our camp to get ready she was just finishing off a couple of alternative routes. Her first route choice in an anticlockwise direction totalled about 35km. The two extra options were for a 40km route and a 50km route which would take us into the NE corner of the map. The control locations were well spread with an even point valve but the 81 & 91 pointer in the southern section of the map swayed Evelyn to go south first leaving the more complex terrain in the north for the night time.

The first 6 hrs whizzed by, with us averaging just under 5km per hour (which we thought was pretty fast) and put us up about an hour up on our planned time schedule and encouraged us to attempt the 50km option. One of the unusual thing of this event was that during the daylight hours we were constantly in touch with a number of teams tracking along a similar route. In most events we have found ourselves completely alone after the first couple of controls. Two of the teams we were in touch with were Andrew and Bruce (1st overall) and Randal and Simon (2nd overall). With all of us making slight navigation errors we were constantly leapfrogging ahead of each other. This may have assisted us keeping up such a good pace.

From the Golden Gully Hut (C73) we opted for the middle route through to the Control 70 (the summit) where we arrived just after sunset. As darkness approached we were finally on our own (just as the scary part of the event was starting) as Andrew & Bruce headed for C55 and Randal & Simon had moved ahead of us. Torches were needed to find C65 and we decided to have our first major stop (just after finding 65) on the side of the road for food and to organise ourselves for the night ahead. While eating we roughly figured (by working backwards from the HH) that for our 50km route we needed to be at C35 (in the north) by 11pm giving us an hour to get back hopefully collecting 41, 61 &55. Working back further we needed to be at C80 by 10pm, C47 by 9pm and C37 by 8pm.

Our route choice north to 64 proved to be to be difficult ( and painful on the feet) as we encountered numerous sheep which we had to wait for (or move around them) and the ground was covered with cannon ball size rocks which we stubbed our toes on many times. Getting to 63 was much easier and we nailed the control spot on which raised our confidence and then headed down onto the road to get to the water station (W2). After getting onto the road we relaxed (how hard is to walk on a road) and started working out plans to get the controls to 80. After a period of time we realised we had walked straight pass W2 without seeing it. Noting the creek to the north of the road we realised we a missed the (understated) road/creek crossing, so headed back, nervously looking at our watches, knowing that we didn’t have much spare time. After going back a reasonable distance the creek to the north seemed to fizzle out and we still hadn’t found the water station. Rather waste anymore time we decided to abandon C37 go east on the road to the bend and then head to C46 (confidence stirred but not shaken).

Not having an exact point of departure from the road proved our undoing as we came up short on the ruin (C46) and slightly to the east of it. Also as we were approaching our pacing counting distance another team cut across our path from East to West (where had they come from, seemingly from off the map). However when we didn’t find the control, we figured we must be to the west of it, so we headed east and so wasted more time having to relocated and eventually find the ruin. Nerves and confidence considerably under-mined but still being within our time schedule we headed to C47 and C52 with bail out decision to be made at C52. Arriving at C47 at about 9.05pm we were confident that we could make 80 by 10pm and hopefully the last 2 hours would fall in place giving us a good score. After C52 all we needed to do was head NW to the high point, then north down the spur to the creek junction then about 300m onto the control on the ridge line. Strange how some things don’t go quite the way you want them to when time and self imposed pressures are put on you. We ended up going down the wrong spur without realising it (but had a niggling suspicion) missed the creek junction we wanted as we found another one (the terrain here was complex in the dark) found extra creeks in front of us which was starting to confuse us, finally ending up on the ridge line in a saddle but no control. To the left of us there was a small high point which I climbed and saw a large broad saddle (which is what we were looking for) so we headed west to search for the control, alas no control (time now 10pm and we don’t know exactly where we are). We needed to leave the area now to get back on time, but not knowing exactly where we were, didn’t fill us with confidence on getting back via the needed, most efficient “escape” route. Figuring that we might have come down the wrong spur earlier we thought we might be on the broad saddle to the NE on C80 (it seemed to fit with what we could see and what we had crossed, plus if we were right we were heading back to the HH). So all we needed to do was head west to the hill and south around the hill. However after doing this we realised we were on the very steep sided hill to the SW of the control and moving away from it. Back we went finding the control (at 10.27pm) about 90m to the NE of where we arrived on the ridge at half hour earlier.

Figuring we needed two hours to get back to the Hash House, the thought was can we get back before being disqualified at 12.30pm. With confidence well and truly shaken, we worked extremely hard picking up 51, 42 and 35 to get to the road and then bypassing everything else to get back just over 19 minutes late.

Even with the frustrations of hunting for elusive controls in the night and getting back late we thoroughly enjoyed the event. Well done to the setters (Richard & Judy Sprod, Peter & Annie Fisher) and congratulations to all who participated or helped out to make the event such a success.

For those interested in stats, we did approx 53km with 1572m of climb collecting 1610 points (and then losing 200 points for being late).

The route we took between 52 and 80 is shown in purple. Our intended route is shown in dashed red and the green line is a similar route which another team did.

More Than Morialta – 2nd Place Report

Team 23 came in second at the recent More than Morialta! 4 hour rogaine, amassing an amazing 1930 points. How did they do it?! Dion Byas has shed some light on just how he did it.

Competing in a rogaine for the first time only happens once, although I can now see how different a 12 or 24 hour rogaine would be to the 4 hours spent hunting around Morialta on Saturday, 15 March. Having decided to enter the event after speaking to my neighbours, Trent & Jenny McInerney who are seasoned competitors and great advocates for the sport, I wanted to start with a duration that would suit my running background.

Basically I am a keen trail runner, with some previous orienteering experience to boot, which means that I have two of the three skills required to rogaine: endurance and navigation, but not necessarily the strategic wisdom. One other thing I should mention – I have a very competitive nature! So why not give it a crack and try to win outright? To do this I learnt that a ‘team’ requires two or more runners – so who to participate with? Fortunately for me, I had my requests answered fairly quickly by Alex Strachan, a fellow trail runner and experienced rogainer. Alex turned out to be an ideal partner in many respects, and made the 4 hours, plus preparation time, a very memorable experience.

Having entered and done some research via reading and speaking to Trent and Jenny, I was delighted to hear from Alex that he was in possession of a card table, cork board, highlighters, pins etc (I contributed string and a scale rule). We arrived on the afternoon of the event with around 2 hours to spare which seemed excessive to someone that turns up to a race 15 minutes beforehand, does a couple of run-throughs and is off!

Alex was waiting at the Hash House when I arrived, having already pre-filled the indemnity form. We quickly collected our maps and made for the carpark where the planning phase began in earnest. We set up the maps, coloured in the controls, and then started to analyse the course. We were both fairly familiar with Morialta Conservation Park, having done plenty of training runs there and also both having traversed it during the Yurebilla 56km Trail Ultra previously. What went really well in hindsight was that we agreed quickly on the route to take, choosing our path to form a clockwise loop. We pinned the controls and tested the distance with the string, estimating approximately 30km of distance to be covered. Some gear was packed, a bite to eat, and then with 15 minutes remaining we made our way down to the race briefing. Boy did those two hours pass quickly!

More than Morialta! fielded over 120 teams which seemed a large crowd for the race start. We chose to head straight up the Morialta Falls Road towards control 32 before ascending up to the ridge via the easy to grab 80 point controls along the way. At this early stage people seemed to be running in all directions and it took us 20-30 minutes before we felt that we were in clear air on Moore’s Track. But behold! Even as far away as control 40 on Montacute Road we kept catching up to other teams or passing them coming in the other direction! I was beginning to appreciate the social nature of the event, with one other team trying to trick us into thinking that we had passed a control coming up Chapman’s Track, haha! we weren’t fooled (for long).

Forgetting to mention the weather here: it had started to rain intermittently before race start and as we closed in on the eastern edge of the park the drizzle returned making the twilight hour a bit more miserable than it should have felt. At least we weren’t overheating. The roads were greasy and it felt just like winter. We kept pushing the pace along and detoured down to controls 61 and 62 before heading out to Morialta Cottage and backtracking up to Norton Summit. By this stage we needed to don our headlights, being on the Norton Summit Road with some traffic about, but at least it was downhill from here! As I kept track of time, Alex would check our navigation, and we would occasionally swap the punch card duty. I was really enjoying this bit with the conversation flowing, the hard navigation work and climbing done, and I remember commenting to Alex that rogaining felt a bit like an old fashioned hunt. The constant movement, adrenaline, sense of purpose and imposing time limit seemed a condition quite natural to humans although rarely experienced in the modern world. I would like to know how others feel about this.

As darkness settled in we hit the suburbs and took a left turn towards Wattle Park Reservoir in our attempt to sweep the plain clean. Unfortunately, we had spent more time than expected on the elevated section and now needed to press on quickly in order to make it back to the Hash House by 9:00pm. The 40 point control at Fergusson Conservation Park proved to be an instinctive find as we were back on dark trails scanning the verges for the white and orange square. What I learned was that the controls are quite reflective and illuminate well under a head torch beam.

During the last hour we made good progress darting through the regular street grid although the rain once again returned with vigour. We had just punched control 66 at the church and were headed east along Magill Rd when I spotted a couple of teams searching around ANOTHER church! Feeling a bit sorry for them (considering it was raining) I felt compelled to shout out across the road and give them a hint. It seemed like good sportsmanship at the time.

Not surprisingly, we were asked at one stage by a couple in a car whether we were lost? Seeing people racing through the streets at night with maps and head torches can’t be too commonplace in Magill!

In the end, we made it home just over a minute late which was a great effort by both of us; it cost us 20 points, but made no difference to the overall result. This had been the first race that I had ever done where everyone finished at the same time (in theory) and it was a fantastic atmosphere at the Hash House with everyone in a hyper mood. We tallied our score and knew that it was a big achievement, but were sodden and needed a change of clothes so dashed off to the car. Warm clothes: oh what a feeling!

I had been told by Alex not to mention the long neck of Stout in the cooler-bag during the run as this was not good race etiquette. As soon as I was able to get my hands on that thing it was my most valued possession and went down a treat. I thought the post-race festivities surpassed most other events that I’ve entered and I would probably do another rogaine for this alone!! Forgetting my curfew, I arrived home quite late that evening after sticking around for the results to be announced. The fruits of our labour turned out to be a close second place overall and an excellent introduction to rogaining for me. Undoubtedly others had similar enjoyable experiences and will be planning their next event. For me? No promises; the stars will need to align (including a full moon) to make a longer 12 hour rogaine possible, but I would love to try.

More Than Morialta Interview

Reuben – just turned 7, Steph – aged 8 and Maddy – aged 10 are rogaining ‘veterans’, having competed in their first rogaine at the 24 hour State Champs last year. Their parents don’t have a background in anything remotely to do with rogaining, but they’re up for some fun and physical activity, and don’t mind dragging the kids along for the ride. The kids were interviewed after the recent More than Morialta! rogaine.

How did you go at the Morialta rogaine?

Steph: We got a map each and it was really hard to find the Hash House. Mum and dad didn’t do much planning but we went straight up the really big hill to Control 81 and then stayed in the hills.

Reuben: I liked running up the hills ahead of mum and dad, but dad had to piggy back me a bit because it was too steep and slippery.

Maddy: We took heaps of short cuts and other teams were really surprised when they saw us. We kept getting in front of them. Bush bashing gives you energy – we don’t like sticking to trails.

Steph: We tricked one team and made them think they missed a control when we were going up the other steep track (Chapman’s Track).

How far did you travel?

Reuben: 7 kms

Mum and dad: estimate about 17kms

How many points did you get?

We got 800 points but because we were 20 minutes late we only got 600 points. We came 81st we could have come 52nd

What’s the best thing about rogaining?

Reuben: Getting lollies at controls and making movies. (See ‘A novices guide to rogaining’ on YouTube)

Steph: Staying up past our bedtimes.

Maddy: I like walking!

So do you like rogaining?

Girls: YES!

Reuben: No! I get sore feet, but I like the lollies!

God’s Country….

And wasn’t it? It was Craig who set our cracking pace (and he says I’m the competitive one), but it was also him who actually stopped several times during the event to photograph the breathtaking views.

Once we got our maps, we did our usual string bit and didn’t take long to work out a suitable course. We only had two contentions, the first being how far we would go – Craig estimating 50km (based on his last 12hr event at Rynie, partnered with John Soden) and me estimating 40km (also based on Rynie where I went with Tarnya and comfortably completed around 36km). Craig won out as he was the one working the string, but I made sure we had several cop out route choices if we got too far behind. As it turned out, we didn’t need these. As previously mentioned, Craig set a cracking pace, especially during the first 8 controls where younger teams or those doing the 6hr, seemed to be flying past us (sometimes more than once).

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Anyone can Rogaine! Trust me…

Our family had never been rogaining before, but once we learnt what rogaining was, we immediately knew we would love it. All of us feel happy when we are outdoors, especially somewhere in the middle of nowhere. We love the way tramping through the bush makes us lose our inhibitions, coercing us to compose silly songs, talk nonsense and simulate man vs wild survival scenarios. It really is a time of bonding and creating unforgettable memories.

We were ready for adventure when we arrived at Argadells. We would not be disappointed. The maps were distributed. All was quiet as competitors everywhere planned and schemed. Our family eagerly poured over the map and discussed which route would give us maximum points. After marking out a very ambitious plan of attack, we sat back and waited. It was not long before the mingling began. There was a hive of activity as  friendly veterans came by to check out what we had planned. It was helpful to discuss our route and receive advice from our competitors. We settled on a revised plan of attack and locked it in.

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A few reflections of an average rogainer

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.

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Control 55 – Where are you?

Recent conversations with others about getting lost while rogaining brought back memories of our ‘mind numbing’ experience at last year’s Australian Championship at Angorichina in the Flinders Ranges. Set by a very experienced team, led by Rob Tucker and Peter Milnes, there was plenty of scope for various route choices. It also punished those, especially at night, whose concentration to map reading lapsed at any time.

After a slow and painstaking journey from C92 (where we also had a ‘being in the wrong place, but not knowing why’ problem that lost us about two hours) to C66, our course planning had us turning west to go to C55. This leg of just under 2km (as the crow flies) was an interesting one and needed a reasonable level of concentration. However, given that we arrived at C66 just before midnight, after almost 12 hours of solid toil, meant that we didn’t have a great reserve of brain power left.

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Over & Out in the Stirling 3hr Minigaine by Craig Colwell

The SA Rogaining Association held their annual 3 hour minigaine event in and around the Stirling Hills district on Saturday 20th October in ideal weather between 3pm and 6pm. Bethany and Jo Powell set an enjoyable course giving competitors the opportunity to visit the bakeries and coffee shops in Stirling, pubs in Crafers, Bridgewater and Aldgate as well as smell the flowers in the Botanic gardens and stroll blissfully along the banks of the Cox Creek from Mt George to Bridgewater. With the mental simulation of the Answer & Question format and numerous route choices with the controls set a challenging distance apart from each other a good day out was had by all.

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Wirrabara 2012 Craig and Evelyn Colwell

Annika & Olivier at the big tree Evelyn being “Big” in the background
The course was a good mix with some really hard physical legs and then some nice open forest area (nice and soft underfoot with-out too much rubbish off-cuts etc) and with a good track network. Anton and Cameron set an event giving plenty of controls close in visiting a number of local land-marks (Big tree, cave entrances, ruins, old well site etc) which was appreciated by the less fleet of foot and the 12 hour teams, but further out there were numerous long legs, steep terrain and thick scrub to contend with giving various route choices. The map was a high quality 1:40,000 scale A3 Ocad map on waterproof teslin material, with exceptional detail in relation to the Forestry pine blocks and native scrub. Well done to the setters.

As both Evelyn and myself started with a head cold we didn’t give a lot of thought with the route plan, first choice was it, thinking we would come in during the night at some stage. With a fuzzy brain, Evelyn worked out long how it would take us to finish our first loop back to the HH (unfortunately back around 9.30am Sunday morning) and rather than work out something easier we just agreed that it would be an overnighter. Cured the head colds brilliantly. Evelyn also planned where we should be during the event to be on time, however she forgot the extra hour allowed (and that we would start at 11am) so we were up on time from the word go, not that we realised this until we were approaching our 1st ‘time check’ position about 2 hours in. Also we decided to work on a 3km/hr speed overall (easier to calculate) rather than working out probable speeds for different terrain types and day/night time speeds. With runny noses and thick heads excessive brain activity while course planning was not encouraged. Surprisingly, given a couple of poor night’s sleep and head colds, this event was possibly the cleanest Rogaine we have done. Only a couple of minor navigation errors for the whole event, and spiking all 12 or so controls done at night. We did change our original route slightly on course to add extra controls during the night and re-arranged the morning route in to get all the controls close to the HH finishing with about 18 minutes to spare.

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Take a Breather 6hr Rogaine/4 hr Cyclogaine Wrapup

The Second Valley Forest billed as the wettest location in South Australia lived up to its name with heavy rain and hail greeting the organisers on the day before the event, causing some concern for the setters and helpers getting all the controls and goodies to the correct locations.

However, braving muddy tracks, swollen creeks and fallen trees, the job was done by mid-afternoon.  Meanwhile back at the Hash House site, the Asthma staff with a number of SARA helpers were busy getting the Hash House and Administration areas in order and decking the huge Santos marquee with posters and signage. The marquee proved an outstanding success and was packed during team course planning, after maps were distributed, as well as after the event for the meal and results.

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Aus Champs Wrapup

2012 Australian Rogaining Championships was held on the 5th and 6th May 2012 at Angorichina/Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges.

The OZ Champs Rogaine attracted 350 competitors in 160 teams. The weather was perfect for the event being calm with a clear sky for most of the time, and of course under a full moon.The course was set with 49 controls, and an expected approximate 100 kilometres distance to visit all of the controls over an area of 165 square kilometres.It was anticipated that some of the top teams would consider going for all of the controls, which requires a different strategy than if a more modest course is selected. This is a criterion that many course setters choose to ensure keen competition, and avoid teams completing the course in less than the designated 24 hours.

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Route planning for the 2011 12hr Spring Rogaine – The Gilbert Valley Gambol

For some there is considerable interest in who went where, why and how did they time it to be back with seconds to spare? How do the top teams work out the best route or are they just so fit that the route is not important and they run to control after control, simply heading back when the time runs out. Why is it that the top teams want to get their maps as soon as possible and disappear until the briefing 15 minutes before the start? In this article, Vice President Craig Colwell demystifies the planning methods used by those top teams.

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Take A Breather 2011: Tarnya Van Driel

When Tarnya Van Driel isn’t getting lost, (i.e., immediately on her way home from this year’s Take A Breather six-hour event), she is the Business Development Manager responsible for fund raising and communications for the Asthma Foundation in South Australia. This is lucky for SARA, because Tarnya is a whirl of enthusiasm for her cause (asthma), and now ours (rogaining).

The Asthma Foundation needs a signature fund-raising event. Tarnya’s hope is to make Take A Breather as successful and recognisable as other major national fund-raising events – which presents an exciting opportunity for rogaining in South Australia.

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Bartagunyah Control Locations (with an update on the mysterious Control 91)

Missed some controls at Bartagunyah? The setters revisited a number of contested locations when collecting controls. Below are their comments on whether things were or were not in the right place. Please note – we are not offering to reassess scores!

Control 91 (the knoll, SW of W4) – this control was on a rather exposed knoll and appears to have been swept away during the event. Most likely sometime during the night when that storm came across.

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Fear and Loathing and Cycling in Bundaleer Forest

Bruce Greenhalgh, winner (with Steve Sullivan) of the 2010 SARA 4 hour cyclogaine, indulges us in some gonzo reportage of their experience.

(Editor’s note: for those not sure of what gonzo journalism is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonzo_journalism

Bruce was encouraged and inspired by my quest to find material outside of the linear ‘we did 53, then 48, before moving on to control 71’. The rogaining experience is vastly richer than what can be represented by a linear number progression. Thanks Bruce for the stylistic effort.)

Readers of the esteemed publication (the SARA newsletter) may have noticed changes in its style and content subsequent to a change of editor. Farley Wright, the new editor and sometime partner of mine in rogaining crime, had earlier explained to me his editorial intentions. I responded by saying, “Gonzo journalism meets rogaining. I can’t wait!” That amused Farley and left me thinking that perhaps the newsletter could benefit from a bit of gonzo. So, in the spirit of drug fuelled, convention corrupting, seat of the pants, stream of consciousness reporting allow me to present:

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State Champs Report (David Baldwin and Julie Quinn)

We were looking forward to doing our first 24 hr rogaine of the year in the Flinders Ranges after having fond memories of the Australian Champs held nearby a few years ago. We booked frequent flyer flights to Adelaide early on before any details had been put on the SARA website. Consequently we were a bit caught out when, logically for a South Australian living in Adelaide, they made the event a 4 pm Saturday to 4 pm Sunday event (so you could do the 5 hr drive Sat morning).

We picked up our ‘shopping trolley’ early Friday morning and visited Woolworths and made a leisurely trip through the Barossa and Claire Valleys, dropped in at the bike shop in Melrose, and arrived at our cabin in Rawnsley Park (near the Flinders Ranges NP) at dusk.

After a leisurely start to the day on Saturday we made our way to the hash house site by late morning. It seemed very odd not starting at midday but were content to amuse ourselves by catching up with rogainers from SA, NT and VIC. When the map handout finally came at 1 pm we got busy planning our route at last.

The map was 1:50k scale so we felt sorry for older people with poor/long sighted eyes because it did take some peering to see the detail. We could see there was around 500 m altitude range so minimising climb was going to be a key part to any plan. However there were still a number of hill top controls that just meant you had to slog up a hill then down again. We settled on a route through the harder country in the centre of the map and that would allow a drop of food and a faster loop on the western side of the course using the tracks, then returning to the Hash House and doing a final loop of 6 controls to the south to finish – assuming we could get them all!

As we were planning a few showers of rain came through forcing us into the car. Fortunately they were short lived and the ones that came through later once we were on the course didn’t amount to much. There was much evidence around the place though of the heavy rain they had received about 2 weeks prior. The whole place was quite green for the Flinders and all of the watercourses and road crossings had flood/water evidence quite high. Must have been very impressive to see.

After the final briefing we were on our way at 4 pm. One team were with us at our first control (#33) but after that we were on our own for quite a while. We had to take the first few controls at a fairly controlled pace due to David’s legs being ‘naughty’ as they often are at the start of a rogaine. This doesn’t seem to ever be a problem – he eventually gets going and not going out like the clappers in a 24 hr event is probably pretty sensible. A long climb took us up to the summit of Mt Sunderland where we met a few other teams. There were great views from there across to Wilpena Pound and the Heysen Range. Darkness fell a couple of controls later as we were descending from control 50 to the west. We weaved our way though the hills cursing a particular band of coarse, dark coloured sandstone, which made for steep sections wherever it outcropped. We finally broke out onto the plains approaching control #45. We weren’t sure whether the navigation was going to get much more subtle on the plains but it didn’t seem to be difficult to pick up the watercourses and little hills in the moonlight. A couple of controls took us to our food drop around 10 pm where we had a brief stop while we sorted food and gear.

We followed the reflective markers of the Heysen trail for a while then some rough country over Pandittawotty Hill. Dropping back down the hill we encountered the first of the gorgeous watercourses with wide sandy bottoms and the most incredibly huge river gums. We finally reached our first water drop after over 40 km and caught up with our friend Kay Haarsma and her partner doing well.

The next few legs were pretty tough going with a huge climb from control #66 up to Yanyanna Hill to #92. We think it probably had an awesome view but in the dark there wasn’t much to see. A steep decent took us back to the road and some flat, supposedly fast, controls around the ABC Range. Unfortunately, Julie had already started to slow down by this time so the running pace was not as quick as desired. We dropped our packs by the road for a cool control that took us through a little gorge in the range and up to control #75 and back. We made good progress jumping off and on the road up the western side of the course before a final pack drop near the soup kitchen to run up the creek to control #59. The soup kitchen was a welcome chance to add some warm tasty food although the cheese toasties (aka NSW & ACT All night cafes) were sadly missed. However SA did have an ample supply of bananas at many of the water drops that were definitely appreciated.

Leaving the Soup Kitchen to go to control #43 that was only ~300 m away we got a bit confused with multiple channels of the wide flat creeks and different junctions. Control #94 was a highlight feature – a subtle little knoll hidden amongst the pine trees. Dawn came on us close after this control on our way to #48 and back to our food drop.

Another series of flat fast legs jumping off the Heysen track and road took us across to the eastern side of the course and Mount Boreas (control #53). We paused here for a moment to admire the view and work out the right gap in the next range to head through to the next control. We picked the one that the Oraparinna Creek ‘flows’ through. This was a gorgeous gap, which left us reminiscing of the likeness to the Macdonnell Ranges in Central Australia. Our final water drop and more bananas then up to the summit of control #63 having spotted the control well before the water drop. Fantastic views across the course made this control worth the climb. Dropping quickly to the main road we ran up this to the next control then started through our last ones back to the Hash House.

The leg to 91 looked like it should be short and quick but was surprisingly difficult with lots of dense (well, dense for this area) callitris (native pine) and rough under foot. We started meeting other teams in this area having not seen anyone since the soup kitchen. More climbing took us up and over the hill to #77. As we traversed the knobs along the ridge from this control we were treated to several wedge tailed eagles soaring near us. We could look up and down on them and hear their quiet ‘contact’ calls to each other. Very impressive. A final tricky control in a maze of gullies was found with the help of the open country allowing us to stand on the saddle as we came in and work out what was where. A quick leg back to the Hash House and we gratefully offloaded all but the bare essentials at 12:40 pm ready for our final ‘dash’ around the last controls. This required 7 legs which we thought would be quite achievable at the rate we had been travelling. The first one (control #44) had a pretty steep climb in and out and that immediately slowed our rate of progress. Combined with getting into the spinifex country on the way to #68 disheartened us a little. The Spinifex country in this part of the course is pretty to look at with rolling hills of bright green spinifex on deep red rocky soil and gum lined watercourses – it’s just hard, prickly work to get through! Fortunately after #41 the vegetation abruptly changed back to the soft tussock and we had a quick leg across to the Appealinna ruins at #79. All that remained from there was a short run up the track and road, diverting to #30 just off the road and a slog up the hill to #51 and a final treacherous descent to the Hash house (thank goodness we weren’t late!).

We completed the course at 3:25 pm with 35 minutes to spare. We were told afterwards that there had been bets at the Hash House about whether we would clear the course or not!

A quick sponge down, change of clothes and a couple of sausage sandwiches and we hit a borrowed tent for a short nap. Unfortunately we didn’t have any time to talk to other rogainers or hang around for the presentations because we had to get on the road back to Adelaide for a 7 am flight on Monday morning. We then hit the road about ½ hr before dark for some skippy roulette that saw us drive the first 100 km at 60 km/hr. NOT fun at all, especially on only an hours sleep. We finally got to Port Germein around 10 pm for a very welcome shower and few hours sleep before rising at 4 am to drive the final bit back to Adelaide. Flight mix ups, mechanical failures etc saw a long flight back to Canberra, via Sydney getting home after 3 pm.

David Baldwin