The forecast was for a hot day, the only question was – how hot? With the event running from 12-3pm, we would be out in the hottest part of the day, not something I particularly looked forward to. In the end I think it hit 32 degrees, not the most pleasant running weather especially in open areas, but bearable under the cover of trees and helped by the low humidity which almost instantly wicked any sweat away.
We made good time out to Scheyville National Park, arriving with just over an hour to go before the midday start. Checked in, toilet stop, then back to the car and pulled out the table and chairs to find a spot in the shade to set up and sort ourselves out. A quick look over the map, sunscreen on, sandwich in hand and then settle in to study the map and plan our route. There were a couple of suggested novice routes indicated on the back – these are always helpful as they give a point tally and distance to cover which can then usually be extended on to give a longer route. We pulled out the highlighters and string and linked some controls together and started putting a plan in place. The route looked a bit long, but there were a couple of places we could adjust and make changes based on how we were going, so we were happy enough with it as a starting point. Made sure our packs were ready, put everything else back in the car, a final toilet stop and then join the rest of the competitors up at the hash house for the final briefing.
There were over 300 people entered and at the sound of the siren people headed in all directions. A good number of people went the same way we had planned, so we settled in behind them, letting them trample a path through the hip high grass for us. We came on the first control easily – there were people everywhere still – someone had already ended their day with what was hopefully nothing worse than a bad ankle sprain, and then we followed more people streaming up the hill towards the next control. After the second control, numbers started thinning quite a bit, but there were still enough to lead us almost directly to the next couple of controls with little effort. This was nice, as they were “off track” controls and there was no need to pull the compass out. The footing was pretty uneven, but it was still possible to make decent time through most of it.
This first five controls were out in the open, then our plan had us heading for the trees. A short section of road before we cut across to the southern portion of the map to pick up the next 5 controls there. These were reasonably easy, mostly just off track with slightly overgrown gullies leading to them. Plenty of people on this section in both directions – we picked up the pace on the downhills and some of the flats while walking the uphills. The heat was already starting to take its toll hough, and despite having kept on top of my asthma meds after an annoying cold two weeks ago, I needed a couple of puffs on the ventolin in the first hour (once I realised my shortness of breath was possibly more to do with this than my current lack of fitness). Lots of kids out on course too doing an amazing job in the heat.
Back up to the road, and an unplanned stop while Nick had to do a bug check – he’d had several attach themselves to him in the last section we had gone through and we weren’t sure what they were. He was all clear though, so we continued along the road for a short while again before getting back on to wide, smooth gentle trails and jogged our way along to the next dam and another control. We realised we weren’t moving as quickly as we would have liked, and with water starting to get a bit low too, we changed plans to just grab a 90 pointer and head straight for the water drop. The 90 pointer proved a bit of a challenge to find the right entry point off the main track and a lot more pushing our way through scratchy tea trees than we would have liked. We saw more people making the same mistake we did as we returned to the main path and jogged our way along to the water drop via scenic control 36.
The water drop was well stocked and looked like very few people had taken advantage of it when we were there. It was a time consuming stop and the national park sign was just the right height to clip Nick on the head while we were there (leaving him a nice bruise on the forehead today). We left here feeling refreshed and we hit an extended downhill section of the course making good time along clear paths to the next control. We had to pay attention in the next bit with a network of trails and then a very faint trail leading off for the next point. Another fight through the tea trees left us a little worse for wear but another 60 points in hand. With 45 minutes to go, we needed to start making a beeline back to the start, so we dropped our planned 80-30-50 route and went for a 30-50-20-20 instead. Probably the wrong choice, and the final section saw me in a world of pain on very tired legs as we pushed to the end. We finished in a clean 2:57, three minutes before finish.
The queue for the bbq was long, I would have loved a bit of fruit or cake, but Nick was keen to get moving and I had no energy to argue. We still had water in our packs and that would do for now. We slowly made our way back to the car. Now that we had stopped, I realised just how much I had pushed my body. It hadn’t been a hard run, but the heat, lack of running over the past couple of months and my recent head cold had conspired to ensure that the 15km we had covered felt more like twice that distance. I struggled to stand, to talk, to sit, my feet tingled and my legs ached, I was shattered.
As always, the results were up within a couple of hours. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t do as well as we would have hoped, but we didn’t completely disgrace ourselves either. Our score of 980 put us in 6th spot (out of 17) in the mixed veteran teams with only 50 points between us and 4th place – the first 3 teams doing much better. In the open mixed teams we placed 15th out of 57, and overall we were 26th out of a total 96 teams. There were another 69 solo runners out on the course too.
Fuelling with Tailwind worked brilliantly again, but overall we were both disappointed with the day (Nick more so than me). We had planned far more optimistically than we were going to manage, and in cutting short our route we dropped a lot of planned points. In hindsight, an alternate middle section to our plan would have been much better – there was a lot of distance and time for few points in there. The tea tree was an unwelcome fixture in the northern parts of the course, a much hated obstacle for us and while I had knee high socks on, Nicks legs were fairly bare and copped a good scratching from the day. But mostly it was my current lack of running that slowed us down, so it’s back to regular running following physios orders to make sure I can stay uninjured and get back some consistency before we hit the trails again!
Two days post rogaine and my calf muscles are still suffering – more so than almost any other event we’ve done. Dozens of scratches on arms and around knees from the tea trees, but otherwise pulled up ok after a good nights sleep. Nick has a bump on his forehead from hitting the sign, but is otherwise fine.
It’s been a while since I posted, so will try and get maps up for this rogaine in another day or two and then do a catch up post – there’s been a lot happening!