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.
In our case the luck we enjoyed included the Covid scratching of the red-hot favourites, Meredith Norman and Camilo Loor Chavez. We might have bested them on the day (stranger things have happened) but I know where my money would have been placed.
Then there was the weather, memorable for being hot and not a bit humid. It’s probably my least favourite weather, especially the humidity, but we had trained a few times in similar conditions before the event. Steve did mention that it might be hot on the day and so our training would come in handy. That’s exactly what happened, yet it was more through luck than planning.
As luck would have it, I started without any injuries nor did I develop any as the event progressed. This hasn’t happened for a long time. In fact, Steve has become so habituated to the appearance of my injuries and consequent effect on our performance that he has taken to ironically referring to them as my ‘friends’. My ‘friends’ all came along for the ride, but happily none reached the point of handicapping our performance.
We were lucky too, in sharing our route for a good block of time with the team of Kate Corner, Michelle Brigham and Arnold Bonilla. Usually our preference is to rogaine alone as we often find having other teams nearby an unwanted distraction. On this occasion it worked in our favour as they were a spur to our pace, keeping us honest as we tried to get a lead on them. Even more fortuitously, our routes diverged at a point where their presence would definitely have been a distraction and of little pace making assistance.
I’d like to say that our decisions toward the end of the four hours, to go for controls 80 and then 70, were inspired by experience, cool thinking and precise calculation. However, that would be giving our decision making an undeserved gloss. When we decided to attempt the controls (and risk getting back late) we both saw it as ‘rolling the dice’. The dice were kind and all that I had to do to get back before 8.00 was turn myself inside out for the last twenty minutes. Easy.
While we were getting things right and being lucky other teams were, doubtless, suffering at the hand of fate. That’s how it is. Whatever the case, if you want to put in a good performance (even win) do all the things you think you should do and then, the big one, get lucky. Get your planets to align, your ducks in a row and appease the appropriate gods.
On the subject of luck, I note that it extends to the fact that rogaining is fortunate to have a bunch of talented and hard-working volunteers who put on the events. I thank all those involved with organizing the ‘Twilight’ and while it’s probably wrong to single out someone I’m going to anyway and thank Jo Powell for being the inspiration, driving force, course setter and cow whisperer (another story!) for ‘The Lakes District’ rogaine.