By Talitha Baird (one half of the winning Open Women’s team at the Bundaleer Reboot 6-hour)

I have been in a really good mood for the past two weeks. If you had asked me what I like to do to relax and feel refreshed I probably would have answered “have an afternoon nap”, “read a book”, “a gentle walk along the beach”. I did not expect a 6-hour rogaine in the forest to be so refreshing. However, I am not surprised. For the past few years I have enjoyed the delights of heading for the hills of Adelaide to run in the trees. Surrounding myself with wildlife and the green of the National Parks offsets the grey and red buildings, and the silence clears my mind from the busy city orchestra. For those who like to label – yes, I call myself a Trail Runner. Now, I am no longer a novice rogainer.

My alarm woke me at 5:30am for an early drive to Bundaleer Forest with my good friend Nadia. On the drive towards Jamestown we were treated with a glorious sunrise and we knew we were in for a fun day.  During the drive Nadia gave me a crash course in map reading. I grew up in the days before Google Maps, with a street directory in my car, but this type of map reading was new for me. I also attempted to learn to use a compass. In the end I must confess I diligently carried it around the course in my pocket, happy to follow Nadia and trust in her exceptional skills.

Having now completed my first rogaine I understand I need to give a little more respect to the planning phase of the day. I realise this can significantly impact how the day unfolds. We were happy with our plan for the first half of the course, and I now know to allow more planning time in the future.

Having never participated in a rogaine before I didn’t know what I was looking for until we found the first control. When we spied the fluoro orange and white triangles in amongst the bushes I knew I was hooked. The dopamine hit of spotting the control was invigorating, “there it is” we would yell quietly to each other and run towards it with a little more spring in our step. Six hours later the thrill of discovering another control was as strong as the first.  Between controls we spent our time eating, chatting, planning, and laughing. What a treat to spend a day outside with my friend exploring the land. We traversed open rolling hills, cropped areas, travelled along dry creeks, and through pine forests. My favourite section was along the stone wall across the top of the ridge.

We arrived back to the Hash House with weary legs but in good spirits. We enjoyed a delicious meal served by friendly volunteers. I welcomed a second generous helping to top up the energy stores before the drive home. As Nadia drove out of Bundaleer Forest and turned right to head back to Adelaide I had a little chuckle to myself. I was grateful she was driving as I would have sworn we needed to turn left to get home. There is room for improvement with my navigation skills and I hope to have another chance to practice in a rogaine again soon.

By Talitha Baird