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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Volunteers summary report for 2023

For our 2023 season we had 83 volunteers filling in 128 volunteering positions – ranging from a few hours bucket cooking to weeks of setting. Of those 83 volunteers, 58 people volunteered once, for which we thank you for giving up one of our events to help out and 25 who helped out more than once. Double thank you’s.

Committee members tended to be involved with many of the rogaines and numbered highly in the double thank you’s – and that’s because, well, they are committed. Among the most notable were Ruth Ambrose who volunteered 5x and Craig Colwell and Keith Humphris who can count 4 each.

Of the non-committee members (and not even active rogainers) Chris Franklin and Jan Hillyard each volunteered 5x and David Powell who got roped into running Navlight 4x.

Of the 83 volunteers, 14 were committee members and from the 61 left I know there were at least 14 who, like Chris and Jan, are no longer actively involved with the sport but like to help out when they can or come as dedicated drivers and offer their services whilst they are there.

If you would like to offer helping out at any of this year’s events, please contact me (volunteer co-ordinator) on evelyn.colwell@sarogaining.com.au.

Cheers,
Evelyn Colwell

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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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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A warm welcome from SARA’s President

A happy 2023 to you all. I  hope you have had some rest and relaxation over the summer and are ready to enjoy some great rogaining in 2023!  Our committee has been working behind the scenes with other volunteers planning some fun and challenging events for this year. We have a mix of both experienced and new setters planning their events. ( As an aside, if you are interested in helping to set an event in the future, please let someone on the committee know. If you are new to setting we can try and pair you with some old hands to help you learn the ropes.)

What are your rogaining goals for this year? Perhaps to cover a longer distance than you have before? To come in the top 50 % of placings, or top 10 %? To plan a realistic route, find the controls and make it back in time? (Surely the ultimate rogaining goal!) Or to have every team member come back smiling, with your kids asking when is the next rogaine?

Perhaps you might consider a bush event for the first time. We have two exciting bush events planned for this year, firstly an 8 or 15-hour Roving event, 3 – 4 June, in the Southern Flinders Ranges set by experienced setting team Sue and Peter Milnes and Rob Tucker. And secondly, the long anticipated 12-hour or 24-hour State Championships in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park (I-FRNP), on the 5 – 6 August, again with experienced setters, Mark Corbett, Evelyn and Craig Colwell and Stephen Gray.
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LICENSE TO CULL

Musings on SARA’s ‘Cactus Cull’ weekend at Parnaroo (near Peterborough) by Bruce Greenhalgh

There has been quite a bit in the media recently about people taking on second jobs to augment incomes strained by recent cost-of-living increases. Having a second income, perhaps a small business – a ‘side hustle’ – is reportedly becoming increasingly common. While the wolf isn’t actually at my door, I reasoned that it wouldn’t be a bad thing if I expanded my work skill set ‘just in case’. So, I signed up for SARA’s Cactus Cull at Parnaroo figuring I’d enhance my employment prospects by learning how to, and getting practical experience in, culling that unwanted Mexican import, the ‘Wheel Cactus’ (Optuna robusta).

At the end of the weekend, I certainly had added to my skill set, but I don’t know that my experience administering lethal injections makes me that much more employable. It’s true that I could seek employment in certain American states where execution by injection is still practised and where my history of killing literally hundreds of Mexicans would possibly add a lustre to my job application. But is this work I want? No way!

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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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Calculation, it’s the name of the game!

By Bruce Greenhalgh

I was about to begin this piece with an invitation to rogainers to get their slide rules out in preparation for the Bundaleer 15-hour event, Ngadjuri Dreaming. Then I thought it wasn’t such a great opening since a good number of potential entrants wouldn’t even not what a slide rule was, let alone own one. I have one; it dates back to my high school years which makes it, well, let’s just say ‘old’. It’s a relic from a time before calculators and computers when slide rules were the go-to device for mathematical computation. Mention of slide rules was, then, an allusion to serious calculation activity. But while slide rules are quite wonderous instruments, they were never cool. Indeed, slide rule enthusiasts tended to be a bit on the nerdy side. They were the kind of guys (almost always guys) who wore white, short sleeved, polyester business shirts with the top button done up, even though they didn’t wear a tie, and had a battalion of pens safely kept in the shirt pocket thanks to a ‘pocket protector’ (remember them?) (if you’re young, probably not).

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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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Goldilocks and the Six Hours

Read the setter’s thoughts on our next rogaine (by Bruce Greenhalgh)

Yes, yes. I know it should be ‘Goldilocks and the three bears’ but I’ve been struck by some parallels the coming six-hour rogaine has with the Goldilocks story. Just like the chair Goldilocks sits in, the porridge she eats and the bed she sleeps in, the ’Another pine mess you’ve got me into’ rogaine is ‘just right’.

Take the time period, six hours, it’s (obviously) shorter than a twenty-four-hour event and so won’t take you to the point of questioning your sanity the way the longer events usually do. And it’s not as short as a three hour when it seems that no time has passed before you’re worrying about getting back to the Hash House in time. Nothing like those two extremes, the six hour allows you to immerse yourself in the rogaine experience without the rigours of a longer rogaine or the limitations of a shorter event. Just right.

Similarly, the navigation challenge of the Kuitpo six hour is not that great that you’ll be spending hours vainly searching for a control, nor that easy that you’ll feel like little or no skill is required. A bit of compass work, perhaps some pace counting and astute route choice will have you feeling you’ve tested your mental prowess without straining your brain. Just right.

SARA’s longer events are often set in wonderful, extraordinary, locations that provide the sense of being away from everything, but these venues often require a lengthy car trip, sometimes the best part of a day. Conversely, the ‘metro’ events are easily reached. The flip side, however, is the loss of being somewhere away and special and natural. Kuitpo is (roughly) only an hour’s drive from the city, so not a long haul, but the forest provides a feeling of being out in the natural world and away from the confines of the suburbs. Just right.

So, what’s stopping you? Get together with friends or family or total strangers, get an entry in and start looking forward to a great event. If you like pine we’ve got you covered. There’s pine forest, pine trees, old pine, new pine, pine cones, and pine needles. But there are also sections of native bush that provide an interesting multi-species contrast to the monoculture of the pine plantations.

Porridge isn’t on the menu (sorry Goldilocks), but there will be hot soup and rolls waiting for you at the end of the event. Adventure, pine cones, maps, hot soup – what more could you want? And all for a mere $40 (with children U9 free and good deals for students/concessions and families). Just right!

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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The best laid plans…

By Bruce Greenhalgh

If you’ve ever rogained, even just once, you’ve most likely faced the problem of explaining the sport to somebody else. It seems that few people outside rogaining have any understanding of it. When attempting to explain rogaining I often ask if people know what orienteering is, and they usually do. If they do, I explain that the two sports are similar (map, compass, etc) but that there are important differences, such as rogaining being a team sport and one that involves longer distances and time. So far, so good. It’s when I get to explaining just how long – up to 24 hours – that things get a bit difficult. The idea that you are out running around the countryside with only a map and compass to guide you for 24 HOURS troubles the comprehension of a lot of people. In my observation people either ‘get it’ and appreciate why you think it’s a good thing to do, or they assess that perhaps you’re a little ‘different’.

Faced with, at best, a nascent understanding of rogaining I rarely muddy the waters by then adding that a 24 hour event is actually more a 27 hour event. That’s because before the 24 hours of traversing the countryside begins there are up to 3 hours of planning with the map. I say ‘up to’ because there are other things to do in that time: making decisions about what gear to take, final packing of backpacks, last minute fuel intake (also known as eating) and etc. It’s also true that many competitors have a casual approach to the whole planning thing and might pick up their maps late(ish) and spend a comparatively short time devising their route(‘Let’s head north!’) For those that want to maximize their rogaine performance though, it’s a case of spending as much time as possible planning.

Whatever the approach it’s fair to say that a rogaine begins with the planning phase. Preparation is, of course, part of any sporting endeavour, but there are few sports where the preparation is so intrinsically part of the competition and few sports where planning is as important. As one of the interstate competitors at the recent Australian championships remarked to me, ‘You can’t win it in the planning, but you can lose it.’ There’s a lot of truth in that. Regardless of how well you are prepared physically, good course selection is critical to a satisfying result.

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Post rogaine cognition: a case study

Here at SARA we scour the world of professional literature to ensure you’re informed of all relevant information. The following article is from the latest issue of the esteemed publication, The Goyder Journal of Psychology and Rogaining.

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 Post rogaine cognition: a case study

It’s a bit past 9.00 pm at the Second Valley Forest HQ and we’ve just finished the six hour. It’s the usual end-of-rogaine experience. I’m back at my car and the task of finding my beanie has taken on a degree of difficulty commensurate with completing a foreign language cryptic crossword. My brain, which not long ago was okay (only okay) at finding controls, is now also defeated by the problem of locating the change of socks I packed (I know I packed them. I think I packed them. Did I pack them?), And I’m tired and aching and getting cold.

My team mate, Steve, raises a thought that I’ve been holding at bay. He says something along the lines of ‘This is only six hours. What’s the twenty-four going to be like?’ What indeed? Addled though I am, I can calculate that a twenty-four hour event is FOUR TIMES LONGER than the six I’ve just completed.

Later, having changed into warm, dry clothing and with a cup of potato and leek soup in hand, I remind myself that a twenty-four hour event is different. In the shorter rogaines (and I’d class a six hour as short) it’s all about go, go, go. Much as I’d like to be able to go hard for twenty-four hours it’s not an option for me. I acknowledge too, that ‘24s’ are normally set in the bush where the ‘hand rails’ of roads, defined tracks and distinct changes in vegetation are conspicuous by their absence. So the ability to navigate takes on something like equivalence to physical prowess. It’s a different ball game.

By most measures it’s a harder game. For example, there’s the special test created if you return to the Hash House during the night with the intention of having a quick meal and then returning straight back to your course. Following through on that intention is tough. The temptation of sitting longer at the HH fire with, say, a second helping of potato and leek soup or getting re-acquainted with your sleeping bag is close to irresistible.

There are some compensations, however. In a shorter rogaine you’re conscious of the finish time for a good part of the event. Even in the first hour I’m mindful of our pace and progress in relation to finishing on time. A 24 provides a good hunk of time when you can just about forget the time table and concentrate on navigating and negotiating the terrain. It’s a ‘purer’ experience in that regard. And who knows? Perhaps the slightly lighter mental burden will allow you some brain power at the end of the event to find those elusive clean socks.

Whatever happens, if you compete in a 24, it will be memorable. I’m not sure what I did last Tuesday, but, for example, I remember vividly the frustrating, but ultimately successful, search we had for a 40 pointer at 4.00 am during the 2015 State Champs (Really? Here? Thank !@+# we found it).

Want a few memories? Enter the upcoming Australian Champs. You can do it.

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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The Urn and I – a Cold and Hot Relationship

By SARA’s volunteer hot water urn overseer, Jim Casanova

By 1990, I knew of rogaining as my daughter, Jenny, had been to events with Kay Haarsma, and maps had been displayed, but that was all. As part of the 1990 Easter Orienteering Carnival, my wife, Dorothy, and I were entered in the 12-hour rogaine at Dutchman’s Stern. This resulted in a steep learning curve in larger area/smaller scale map reading, plus working out distances, pace counting and re-locating. Our night navigation left a lot to be desired (and we left rogaining alone for a few years after that).

The next contact with rogaining was when Dorothy was asked to help on the hash house for the 1996 12-hour at Karinya, near Truro and therefore I was present as her transport. Standing there, and not knowing what to do, I gravitated to the hot water urn like a moth to a lighted candle or a fly down the chimney of a lighted kerosene lamp. I thought I could be useful by looking after it – a simple job and I should not get into trouble.

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Oladdie 2020 – the landscape and features

By Michael Broadbent, course setter, 15/8 hour roving rogaine 2020

Control 50

A few hundred metres south of the control are the ruins of the original homestead. It would have been chosen because it was close to permanent water. To the north, alongside the watercourse, are several stone structures. These are mausoleums or burial chambers. The rock exposed in the riverbed is tillite. Note the fragments of rocks and finer debris that has been eroded by glacial action.

 

 Control 55

The rock strata exposed in the watercourse leading south from the road to the control point is both varied and coloured.

Control 83

These are spectacular rock formations and are the result of a volcanic “diapir” in this area where magma (molten rock) was pushed up through the sedimentary layers. The intense heat and pressure of the magma greatly altered the adjacent sedimentary layers and turned them into metamorphic rocks. These are harder and more resistant to erosion, resulting in the rock spine.

 

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