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?

Back to the rogaine, and it was held in near perfect conditions. Running an event in spring is always a gamble as the weather can do anything, but rogainers enjoyed the best of spring conditions. Aside from the weather, what was also near perfect (or maybe just perfect?) was the organisation and running of the event. Signing on and collecting maps was a breeze. The map, control-setting and placement was of a similar, laudable standard. If anything went awry, we didn’t know about it.  My thanks and congratulations to all those who worked to make the rogaine happen.

Speaking of work, we really worked on planning our course. The ‘no Black Hill’ strategy made route choice marginally easier, making it harder was the maze-like layout of many areas in the ‘burbs. Whatever happened to grid pattern development? It’s all very well creating interesting street plans, but shouldn’t town planners take into account the needs of rogainers who, especially toward the end of an event, might not be thinking that well?

Our strategy worked pretty well with us collecting all but four of the suburban controls and returning to the HH with time to spare. That, of course, proved to be an irresistible invitation to engage in the post-rogaine pastime of ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’. I’m sure most, if not all, readers know how it works. You start out, after the event, noting a slightly better route choice that might have saved five minutes, which you could have used to go for such-and-such a control, which was close, achingly close, to another control you didn’t collect, but possibly could have since you finished with time to spare… – and so on and so forth. Only a modicum of this type of thinking allowed us to climb the results to near the top of the list. It did occur to me though, that if others engage in the same ‘analysis’ with similar favourable outcomes and that if all those fabrications were collated we’d probably end up with near enough, if not exactly, the same placing. Still, thinking you might be able to do better at the next event is a great incentive to competing again. Here’s hoping that many, if not all, of the record entry are thinking ‘next time’ and will be back in 2024 (the first event for the year being in March).