Been There, Done That Rogaine

Saturday March 19th was the Been There, Done That Rogaine, which Craig and I teamed up for. (Yes, it’s taken me this long to get the post out of draft status! – yet another reason Twitter works for me).

The description of the rogaine included: “Like politicians we make lots of promises – magnificent views, gentle rolling hills, controls in all the right places, a challenging course with lots of options for the more sensible-minded amongst us. But, we make no promises about the lack of grass seeds, electric fences, muddy bog holes, crippling climbs and rampaging sheep looking for a feed.” and it did not lie (unlike a politician).

Allowing for the 2 hour travel time from Perth, we left about 10:30am, but found ourselves on site by 12pm, a full hour early. This gave us some time to pull out the camp chairs, enjoy a leisurely packed lunch, eyeball the terrain, and discuss what kind of distance we wanted to cover. After a bit of pondering and debate over fitness levels, weather conditions, terrain and ambitions, we decided to play with about 20km and then tweak as we needed.

Once the maps were available, we set it up on a pinboard with string, and set out to manually solve for the highest point value within 20km. Craig described it as a modified Travelling Salesman problem, which it is ( I hadn’t thought of it that way before), just with the additional variables of some controls being higher points, and the terrain making a given control less desirable than it would appear on face value. Whilst computer assistance is prohibited for the event, I’d love to plug it into an algorithm afterwards and see what kind if route it comes up with.

We eventually came up with a 21km route worth about 1170 points, which we were fairly happy with. Given we’d only have 6 hours, that would a consistent 3.5km/hr pace, which we were willing to try for. We finished our preparation by taking bearings for all the controls, and writing them down, along with where we needed to be by 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm & 8pm in order to be on time, and back for 9pm.

After the last minute briefing and wait for the clock, it was 3pm and we were off!

We started out at a good pace (I’d estimate about 4.5km/hr), climbing several fences until we reached our first stream. By stream, of course, I mean bog. Rather than try and cross it over a tree branch, I decided to try jumping over a narrow bit. Unfortunately, whilst getting ready to jump, my left foot slid forwards and down towards the bog. Going with the flow, my right foot went right into the bog, then left foot onto the other bank, followed by my slightly damp and very stinky right foot. Ah well.

Onwards we plodded, under the merciless sun, and it was then that I found I had to start slowing down, due to the heat. It was rather warm, mid 30s (Celcius) at a guess, and we were in open farm land, with no shade.  Despite the slopes not being too steep, the heat and incline were too much to keep up the pace we’d started out at.

Hitting our first water drop, Craig refilled his drinking bladder, whilst I still had plenty of water left. Shortly after, Craig’s bladder stopped, and we discovered that they don’t work if put back into the pack upside down!

At 4pm we were still ahead of our schedule, although the hills and fences were slowing us. In an attempt to reduce the amount of hill climbing, we decided to contour around a particularly steep hill, where the control was on the far side. This turned out to be very successful, saving us quite a bit of energy, and not slowing us down too much – a useful tip for the next rogaine.

By 5pm we were on our schedule, having lost the ground we’d gained early on, whilst fresh. My boots were beginning to rub, due to heel slippage, which no adjusting the lacing seemed to help. However it was getting cooler as the sun set, so the heat was less of a factor. By 6pm we had fallen behind schedule, and decided to skip an 80 point control, and cut straight to the next one, to see if we could make up the time.

It was between these controls that we came upon the half mummified cow.

The conversation went something like:

PRK & Craig notice odd shape: “What’s that? Is it an anthill?”

PRK & Craig approach further. PRK: “It’s a mummified cow!”

Craig, looking down: “And here’s one of its legs.”

PRK & Craig pass the cow and keep walking.

PRK & Craig suddenly get a whiff of the dead cow.

PRK & Craig: “Ok, so it’s only half mummified…”

Slowed by my blistering feet, we didn’t reach our next control until after 7:15pm, with 7pm the latest we’d allowed ourselves to continue our route from that spot. Stopping there to refill our water, we decided to abort the rest of the route, and take one of our pre-planned bail routes, back, via a few other lower point controls.

As we limped along, the moon rose, a beautiful, big, full moon. The kind of moon that just wants you to howl at it. So we did.

Passing a group with kids a little later, we warned them to watch out for the were-wolves. They seemed dubious, but we insisted we’d heard them!

We hit the rest of the controls on our bail route, and made it back with about 20 minutes to spare. I didn’t want to see another fence that night though – I was thoroughly sick of climbing over, through or sliding under them. It was incredibly nice to get off my feet and undo my boots although I didn’t want to see how bad the blisters were.

Adding up our points, we estimated about 800, which the results confirmed a few days later. 810 points, 56th overall (out of 90 teams). If we’d hit 1170 points (our initial route), it would have placed us at 28th – an indication of how ambitious our route was.

All up, I very much enjoyed rogaining with Craig, and am looking forwards to the next rogaine (April 16th!).


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