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.

Given the hot conditions and that the event start time was at 11am (due to daylight saving time change during the night) we planned on a short 25km loop to the east, expecting to be back at the HH by around 7pm.  This meant we could carry more fluids and leave the bulky cold weather gear and head torches at our campsite for collection on the hopefully cooler night-time loop around the western and northern side of the map.

We expected to average 3 to 3.5kms per hour, but this was unachievable for us once we left the farmland and hit the National Park area with its steep gorges and rugged terrain. Navigation didn’t prove too difficult, but the scrub was hard to move through a lot of the time, especially after Evelyn injured her knee (which was still recovering from a knock in her last 24hr rogaine in August).  Consequently, our eight-hour loop turned into an eleven-and-a-half-hour loop.  Fortunately, we both brought a small torch for map reading (as a just in case) and a powerful hand torch for control searches, as we had a good three hours or more in the dark.

With a few dehydration issues causing some dry retching on the way back to the Hash House we were seriously thinking this would be all we could manage for the event. As such, we turned what was meant to be a quick turnaround through the HH into an 8-hour recovery period. The rest period during the night wasn’t overly comfortable and it was only the movement of other teams getting up in the morning and heading out again that inspired us to try and put in a couple more hours. As the morning progressed our enthusiasm increased as the higher tree canopy in the northern and western areas made movement a bit easier and we extended our small morning loop up to the lookout ridge line picking up C31 and C103, meeting other tired but somewhat cheerful competitors along the way. The location of C103 gave excellent panoramic views to the west. A bit of competitive spirit kicked in as we headed back to the HH and with time running out we decided if we picked up our pace a bit we could dash (relative term) across some farmland, avoiding the uncrossable fence, and collect C32 that was located adjacent a dam. We got back to the HH, after again circumnavigating the uncrossable fence, with a couple of minutes to spare.

Unfortunately, by the time we had cleaned up a bit at our campsite and headed to the HH for the results and presentation, all the lunch food had run out and HH volunteers were trying to fill the shortage with some cheese toasties.

South Australia only had a small representation at this event and only Sue and Phil Hearnden (Team 64) stayed out for the full 24-hour period, which enabled them to successfully retain the Mixed Ultra Veterans trophy.

Overall placings for the SA teams were:

Sue & Phil Hearnden                     33rd – 1st XUV                   1690 points
Craig & Evelyn Colwell                 41st – 2nd XUV                   1560 points
Bart Ozog & Shanti Osbourne   63rd                                        1080 points
Des & Meredith Norman             65th                                        980 points
Jason & Lillian Morton                 69th                                        890 points

Map, results and photos are all available on the NSW Rogaining association web site.