Written by Bruce Greenhalgh

‘I never tired of lost causes
tales of losers and closed doors
ruins and forgotten wars.’

Success is a wonderful thing. We admire and applaud those who achieve in their chosen pursuits. At the recent Parna-roo-gaine the winners of both the 15 and 8-hour categories produced stunning performances, truly something to marvel at. And we did. And for a short while, perhaps, basked in the reflected glory. Conversely though, we also reveled in the failures of the weekend. In fact, our interest in, our fascination with, failure might be greater and more enduring than our contemplation of success.

As proof of this idea, I would cite the conversations I overheard at the HH campfire on Saturday night. There were plenty of remarks along the lines of ‘…and then we got lost’ or ‘It was a poor route choice’ or ‘We searched for ages but just couldn’t find the control’. Conspicuous by their absence were remarks of the ‘We executed our route choice perfectly’ or ‘By nightfall things were really coming together for us’ variety. I can’t recall one. This seems to me to be evidence that people are more captivated by their failures than their successes and figure their audiences will similarly prefer tales of woe to those of achievement.

Let’s face it, success is kind of boring. Usually there is one narrow, predictable path to success. In rogaining the winners need to be well prepared, plan well, move quickly, navigate accurately and exercise good time management. That’s about it; there’s not much room for variation. Failure, however, can be reached by a seemingly endless number of avenues. Our performance, for example, provides a veritable smorgasbord of ways to stuff up. Going for our second control we ignored our compasses and chose the first available gully (like that was ever going to work). Not long after that we wasted way too much time on the infamous control 73 (procrastination is the thief of time). In the night time we got lost going for a control on a watercourse having had, by that time, considerable experience of the vagaries and uncertainties of watercourse mapping (a new definition of stupidity perhaps?). On Sunday we were guilty of navigating to the control’s vicinity and hoping it would present itself, as if by magic (wishing is not a strategy, it’s just wishing). These were only some of our failings, but they were more than enough to have our score in ruins. It was disappointing but, by jiminy, we have plenty of campfire conversation material. Pity the poor winners who can only say ‘We did everything well’. How dull is that?

Speaking of ruins, they provide yet more proof of the notion that failure is more interesting than success. There were a number of controls located at ruins and we visited two. Even though our visits were brief I still found myself pondering on the stories the buildings might tell and wondering who lived there and why the buildings were abandoned. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who had such thoughts. Had we visited a maintained, inhabited building it might have occasioned a flicker of interest, but it would have had none of the evocative power and interest of its ruined counterpart.

Similarly, the weather, which despite the chilly mornings was pretty close to spot on, also supports the idea that ordeal beats ideal in the interest stakes. We may remember that the weather for this event was obliging, but it’s the weather that tests us during rogaines that we recall more readily and talk more about.

And failure probably supplies more lessons than success. We certainly have plenty. I only hope I can apply them in the future (though I’ve said that before).

However, while failure might be endlessly interesting, I do prefer my rogaines to be successfully run. The Parna-roo-gaine certainly ticked that box and was a credit to those people who gave their time and effort to run the event and the landowners who provided access to their properties. I thank you all. I’d particularly like to thank Richard Sprod (Mr Parnaroo?) for all his work, not just with this rogaine, but with the cactus culls as well. Onya Richard.