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.