Wingello Rogaine – Results and Maps

And now for the results, numbers, etc. First up though, the map.  This one is marked with our planned route (orange highlighter) and our actual route (black).

This one shows the team who scored just ahead of us (blue) and the winning team (green – bit hard to see):

So how did we go?
Time: 6hrs
Distance: 25km (pretty much exactly)
Points: 700

Results for 6hr event
Overall: 10/81 teams
Mixed: 5/43
Mixed Veterans: 1/8

Yep – we won our age category!!! Wish we had hung around for the results now though.

So a few days later, what are our thoughts on the whole thing. Overall we were really happy with how we went. We followed our plan, adjusted where needed and covered a decent distance. Even though we were knackered at the end, it wasn’t as debilitating as previous events – we must be getting fitter. We liked the cold weather a lot more for an event than the hot weather we’ve had at a few other recent rogaines. The navigation was quite tricky in parts, and we were pretty lazy about doing it too – it was only due to having over 300 others out doing the same thing that we found some of the controls so easily. Without that, it would have taken a lot longer to find what we did. Nick still has a distinct preference for veering right as we get near controls – we can see it happening a number of times. Our hydration/nutrition worked ok, we were pretty hungry by the end and it was only luck that we didn’t run out of water too early. We really should have topped up at the first water drop.

We still have some work to do with our gear for colder/wet weather. I feel the cold terribly, but was perfectly comfortable in my warm long sleeve top while Nick wasn’t nearly as comfortable in a fleece. It’s also time for me to splash out on a proper waterproof running jacket, if the drizzle had kept up for much longer I would have been cold, wet and very unhappy with only a spray jacket that had reached its limits. Nick bought and tried out some knee high gaiters – they were a huge help with the cold and did a good job of protecting his legs, however his preference would be to have long leggings to wear under shorts for warmth, reduced bulk and so his knees aren’t bare. Other than that everything worked well and we feel like we’re starting to get the hang of things.

Next event is a 6hr in mid-June. Not sure if we will be able to make that one, but we’ll certainly be doing our best to get there!

And just for interest, here is a couple of the high scoring routes from the 12 hour event. Overall winners in blue and Mixed winners in orange.

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Wingello Rogaine –

We had been looking forward to the Wingello Rogaine for a while now, our first “normal” rogaine – a 6/12hr bush event, not the Mini, not the Metro and not the deep end experience that was the 24hr NSW Champs. Our plan was to enter the 12 hour option, getting as much as we could while it was still light and saving the hopefully easier controls for night and seeing if we could find any.

Then just over two weeks out, after having a persistent headache for a couple of weeks, my husband started getting impaired vision and was found to have considerable inflammation on his optic nerve. This started us on the rounds of specialists, treatments, side effects and recovery. Understandably, getting to a rogaine was the last thing on our minds. A week out and immense fatigue had set in, and although the eye was improving it still wasn’t 100%. We had no idea if the symptoms he was experiencing were temporary or would stick around indefinitely. I entered us anyway, thinking we needed something to give us some sense of normalcy and even if we only managed to walk a few hours and only on track, it was better than nothing. I entered us in the 12 hour event, and then two days later pulled us back to the more realistic 6hr event.

Rainbows (and rain!) on our way to the event

Two days before, the fatigue miraculously started to lift and we had hopes of holding out for the full event and maybe even being able to run a bit of it. Despite the forecast cold snap, with temperatures reaching zero at night, high winds and potential rain, we headed off early Saturday morning looking forward to seeing what we could do. A bite to eat at McDonalds along the way, then on to Wingello State Forest for the event itself – we had made it! Parking was getting busy and the hash house was packed with people already planning routes and trying to stay warm and dry as the rain fell gently, but persistently, across the course. We picked up our bits and pieces and made our way back to the car to start our planning and have a final bit of solid food before heading off. Our route planned, with multiple places to adjust on the fly, we layered up, rain jackets on and headed back to hand in our flight plans and await the final briefing.

And we were off, people heading in all directions with around 300 rogainers making their way in the light rain to their first control. We headed straight into the pine forest making our way to a parallel road and saving the distance, and hopefully a decent amount of time, avoiding the longer route via road. With only two other people now in sight, we made our way through the trees and popped out onto the road as planned and headed south. With only two other groups near us, it was more peaceful than expected. As we approached control 26, a group of four overtook us and stopped to check their navigation just as Nick spotted the control. We dashed in, determined to hit it first – success! Our first control and we were on our way, feeling good.

We leapfrogged with this team for the first hour and a bit

The next few controls were busier, only needing to get to the general vicinity before the passing of other teams indicated where we needed to go, and in this way we picked up 27-25-73-24-43-61. Control 73 was probably the trickiest of those with only one other group nearby, but as they headed into the bush at the same time as us and we spied them on their way out, we figured they had found the control and made our way up a bit higher to where they had been and found ourselves on top of it. It looked, and sounded, like a few others were also having some trouble pinpointing this one as we made our way out. The control had been down the bottom of a considerable hill and we warmed up a lot heading back up, stopping part way to strip off the wool base layer and pack the rain jackets away. This area of pine forest made for easy travel on the roads, with all the controls far enough into the woods to make decent navigation necessary.

By control 61 we were just over an hour and a half and 8km into things. This was one of the rare times we found ourselves on our own for a little way as we looped around via road and then stayed high as we headed for control 31. This appeared to be about midway between a higher and lower trail and we hoped the high road would give us some good visibility. We made the wrong choice as it turned out, the exit point from the road was easy enough to work out, but then it was a push through chest deep ferns and precarious footing as we trusted our map and hoped to come upon the control. We found it, only to realise as we then made our way to the low track that from the low path it was easily visible in passing and an easy walk in. But we had the points and continued on.

Control 20 was a tricky one, fortunately there were enough others around to have us heading in the right direction before making our way to 60. This was the most social control of the day! At the time we were there, upwards of 30 other competitors were also off track and within sight. Talk about an easy get! Nearing the first water drop and we decided we had enough water to be right through to the second one – we were about to hit the bush, but figured we should be ok. Picked up control 30 with ease – plenty of people around and we turned up just as one of the organisers was bringing in a new control punch, as the old one hadn’t been working properly. Snapped a quick photo with the phone and kept on going.

We next headed off trail for our one planned section of linked off-trail controls. A chance to test our bush navigation and see how well we could move. Nick had been managing well and we were making good time. We tracked with another group along the ridge line and down the spur to the area control 71 should be in. Took us some time to find it though and we worked with the other team to cover more ground. In the end it was a bit west of where we were looking, but we found it and took a bearing for the next control. This was definitely not a precise science at this point. The going was slow – the steep, rocky, fern covered gully made sure of this. We made it down one side and climbed up out again and started heading for the high ground, surely we would stumble across control 50 if we just kept going higher… We did find it, along with a group of two guys who we had been seeing along the way for nearly two hours. We parted ways here though as they headed further into the bush in search of more points since they had entered the 12 hour event.

At this point we made the call to change our route. The previous two controls had taken far too much time and we though it would be overly optimistic to stick to our original plan. So we replanned, adding on some extra distance, but via road so hopefully quicker. It was a long walk on trails to control 41, heading down a mountain bike track and then scouting a section of trail with some others until someone spied the control buried down the hill amongst the ferns. Fortunately enough people had already been there that there was a clear path to follow, we still landed on our butts as we slid down the steep, slippery trail, no harm done though.

Back out along the mountain bike trail and we took the first trail out onto the roads. Earlier than we had planned as it turned out, but easy enough to make our way. The wind was bitterly cold here though and we moved on quickly. Once in shelter again, we stopped for our final hit of Tailwind, I had some caffeinated to help me along the final stretch, and nabbed a decent amount of Nicks water to mix it up – yum! Back on the mountain bike trail and heading for control 51, it was an easy find. Many people had been here before us, and the wet weather made the trail in obvious giving us a quick in and out here.

With a bit over an hour to go, it was time to pick a quick track home and pick up any points we could along the way. Control 32 was nice and easy – the controls near dams had been some of the easiest ones – while 45 required a bit more effort. The trails were getting busier as the 6 hour event rogainers headed for home with us. We did a quick trip in for control 34, a bit tricky as it got darker. With half an hour to go we hoped to pick up 22 as well. However, after wandering around in the pine trees and ferns for 15 minutes, we called it a day and headed straight for the hash house, sneaking in with less than a minute left on the clock!

We dropped our packs back to the car and put on all our warm clothes again – it was dark and getting colder by the minute. Back at the hash house, the kitchen was flat out and we grabbed a toastie and some cake while waiting to see when the results would come through. It looked like they might take a while, as someone was injured out on the course, so that had to be looked after first. Nick was getting too cold, so we decided to call it a day and jumped in the car. Our destination was Bowral for the night, a hot shower, pub dinner and beer, then a motel room for a good nights sleep before picking up the girls on Sunday and running head first into Mothers Day.

This post is a bit long, so next one will be results and a few other bits and pieces.

Our course on Strava

Scheyville Minigaine

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.

Ponies!

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.

Not a cloud in sight

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.

Water drop

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.

A bit of shade

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!

Metrogaine – Bondi to Bar

A week out, the forecast was for a humid day with temps around 30. Three days out, 3-15mm of rain and max of 26 – that sounded a lot better! By Saturday the forecast was 25-40mm of rain and temps around 21 – this did NOT sound so good. I don’t mind a bit of rain while running, being drowned in a deluge and squelching along in sodden shoes and clothes while trying to read a map was a whole different thing though.

Sunday morning was warm, overcast and humid. Checking the radar, storms were raging to the south of Sydney, with small patchy showers creeping north. We crossed our fingers that the bulk of the rain would hold off until at least half way through the event and headed off.  We picked up our maps and tags and headed back to the car for planning. We had been lucky and found a park 2 spots away from the entry gate, so we could stay warm, dry and comfortable while we prepared. We followed a similar plan to our last rogaine – I highlighted the high and mid point controls on my map to give us a visual overview of what to make sure we looped in, and Nick’s map had our eventual route plan. There were some course planners notes on the back of the maps with warnings like – this control only for experienced navigators – and – cliffs are unfenced and dangerous near this control – as well as some recommended routes for novices. The recommended routes are usually a great starting point for putting our routes together, and this one was no different.

We plotted out a route that looked like it would take us to around 30km, with multiple places towards the end where we could easily alter plans to lengthen or shorten as needed while still maximising points. We gobbled down a honey sandwich, put on our wrist tags and made our way to the hash house. A quick loo stop, pre-race briefing and we were off. People headed off in all directions and within 100m of the start we were on our own! This was incredibly unusual and we didn’t see another runner for over half an hour. We headed straight south, planning to get around Malabar headland and pick up the 500 or so points in the area as quickly as possible. With it pretty much guaranteed to rain at some point, we didn’t want to be caught in the exposed rock platforms and dirt trails when it came.

One of the controls was down on the beach – we took it slow as I HATE getting sand in my shoes and were overtaken by a couple of teams here. Then it was up on the headland proper and keeping an eye out for what was described as “indistinct trails”. We ended up on an old rail line which made for easy running and then had to rock climb out of it to get to the control above us. We led another team through this section and saw several other teams as we headed out again. The exposed cliffs were incredibly windy and we could see the rain to the south. The coastline here was rugged and beautiful, I love how rogaines get me out to explore new areas of Sydney that I haven’t seen before. Then it was heading towards Maroubra Beach and a quick in and out along the new boardwalk for a 80 pointer, time to empty the shoes of dirt and sand before hitting what would now be almost all road.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a rogaine without some sort of injury, so I fulfilled this requirement as we headed back down the boardwalk. There were double gates at the entrance and as I lifted the latch and pushed the gate open, my thumb was squished between the two. Damn that hurt. The pain hit and a wave of nausea swept over me as I swore and held my thumb as still as possible – we kept walking though, after all, we still had a long way to go. Fortunately it was just soft tissue and despite continuing pain, it didn’t seem that anything serious had happened. And on we went…

A couple of shots from the organisers – we’re running in step!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next section of our route was taking us along the coastal walking path that goes from Maroubra to Bondi – we would be turning off probably around Bronte. This was going to be a continuously hilly section as the path headed from beach to headland cliff tops, again and again and again. There was clambering over slippery rocks, slow uphills, easy running downhills and a detour through Waverley Cemetry.

I had been keeping fueled using Tailwind – an energy/electrolyte mix added to the water in my hydration bladder. It had been working brilliantly, despite my legs getting a bit tired, I felt great and had needed no other fuel. It was time to move onto the caffeinated tailwind though for that extra boost for the final stretch. Good timing had us passing a water fill station at exactly the right time. In hindsight, I should have had less water this time around, as I didn’t drink it all, and a more concentrated solution would probably have helped. But otherwise it was brilliant! Still some fine tuning needed, but I think I’m finally getting fueling right.

It was time to head away from the coast – more hills to come and some decisions to be made regarding our route. We had covered about 20km in 3.5 hours, so were making good progress. We decided to combine our options and hit some really high points on our way towards Centennial Park. This involved a LOT of hills. Our legs were getting really tired now and starting to hurt, but on we went, running when it was flat or downhill and walking when it wasn’t. My walking pace slowed as my muscles tightened up and I couldn’t stretch out as much. We made it to the high point of the course at the Waverley Reservoir and picked up the 100 points on offer. Thank goodness for the long downhill that followed from there towards Centennial Park! Some nice flat running through the park, and then easy going for a while.

We were constantly reassessing our route now and dropped a couple of low point controls to take a more direct route and ensure we made it back in time. Our legs were really giving us problems now, but we knew we had to be able to push into a run wherever we could to make it back. One final steep hill (the footpath was just steps!), a long easy downhill and we were back on flatter ground again. And of course, less than 30 minutes to go and the rain hit. None of the light, misty stuff that had hit several times earlier in the day, this was serious cold, stinging, windy rain that quickly drenched us and started making the shoes soggy.

Still more steps!

It didn’t take long until we were soaked, but there was no point calling it quits now, so on we went to get our final 80 pointer. Thank goodness for waterproof maps! Cold, wet and almost hitting “miserable”, we made it back to the finish with less than 2 minutes left – perfect timing! We packed under the shelter along with everyone else, grabbing some of the food on offer – fruit, cake, and Nick joined the queue for the sausage sandwiches. I desperately needed to sit down and get off my feet, and was lucky to find a seat under cover and away from things to eat up the cake and biscuit I had nabbed. Nick headed inside to see if scores were available, but nothing was up, so he generously headed to the car to get towels and our dry gear and bring it back so we could get changed. What a relief to get the soggy shoes off and some dry clothes on. We made our way back to the car and “recovered” for a bit, getting some food and more drinks in before heading home.

Preliminary results were posted incredibly quickly – we’d had a great run!
Mixed Veterans: 4/30
Mixed Open: 6/65
Overall: 22/137
Distance: 34.5km
Points: 2080

Only 25 teams scored over 2000 points (out of a possibly 3070), and we were only 10 points behind 3rd place in our Mixed Veterans Category. The first two teams were 500 and 600 points in front of us, so a long way ahead, but this was by far our most competitive result to date.

A hot shower, putting on some compression tights and bbq for dinner had us feeling a lot better, although completely exhausted. We were very happy with our effort though – we had covered further than we’d managed in any previous rogaine and our placing was also our best effort yet. So what did we get right, and wrong, this time…

What we got right: A good, solid dinner the night before had both us feeling well fueled from the start. Last rogaine we made the mistake of trying to get too much fuel in too close to the start, so we stuck to a simple honey sandwich (after a decent, but normal breakfast) then just tailwind for fueling throughout the event. Tailwind worked a dream – can’t say enough good things about it, we usually lose over an hour of “stopped time”, mostly due to eating and needing some rest. We had it down to 40 minutes, most of which was probably map reading, a couple of toilet stops and refilling water. We got our planning right – we had the distance right and our points picked up right. For what we are capable of at the moment, we got it right. Not perfect, but we’re not complaining. My phone still takes a decent enough photo from inside a ziplock bag, and it stayed dry the whole day. Putting my hair up in pigtails removed the issue of it getting in my face and draping on my neck with sweat/rain and bugging me – another thing to get used to with shorter hair…

What we got wrong: My second Tailwind fuelling should have been stronger, that’s an easy fix for next time. Our changing of route right towards the end probably did us out of a number of points. We need to look at elevation and routes at the end more closely before heading out so that we’re not trying to make decisions when our brains are fried at the end. I need a good waterproof, running jacket. While we likely still wouldn’t have used it yesterday, it was pure luck that the rain didn’t hit earlier, and it was freezing! We would have had to finish early if that had happened, just because I would have been cold. Going to the physio and having him get stuck into my calves two days out from an event is too close – I still felt bruised on Sunday morning and was surprised they held out so well in the end.

The day after, I ache in my hips, the bottoms of my feet feel bruised and my knee is giving a few niggles. I’m tired, and all my muscles know they had a good thrashing yesterday, but I’ve already pulled up better than before. We got lucky with the weather – we ended up with over 70mm of rain falling in 24hrs, thank goodness it waited until the end of the event to hit. Here’s hoping that we can do even better next time!

Weekend Finished on a Winner

The weekend just gone I managed two very different runs. The aim was to get a long run in Saturday morning before it got too hot and then, depending on the weather possibly do another sprint orienteering event on the Sunday evening.

Off to a bad start on the Saturday morning, when my stomach was rebelling – not sure if it was the curry I had for lunch on Friday or the meatballs we had Friday night… Whatever the case, I opted for the treadmill as it seemed quite likely some mid-run stops would be required. Then the bluetooth headphones wouldn’t connect to my phone. I’ve become used to listening to podcasts while I run on the treadmill to make the time pass, so no headphones and I had to focus to listen through the phone speaker to the chosen TED talks. Just over half a kilometre in and my watch buzzed a few times – connected to phone, disconnected to phone, buzz, buzz, buzz… tracking of my run stopped and started a few times. I ticked over a kilometre and checked how it was going on my watch. Only 740 metres registered. Somehow, my gps had kicked in again and, of course, it wasn’t recording any more distance – great! Turned gps off and kept going.

The run was already hard and with the issues already I was ready to quit, but I talked myself into doing a bit more. The first kilometre or two is often harder until I settle in, hopefully this would be the case here too. 1.5km and I was struggling badly and ready to call it quits when I reach 2km, instead, I dropped back the pace and talked myself into doing one more kilometre. Still wanting to quit, I told myself I could stop at 30 minutes. I was over 4km now, so how about I just go to 5km. Then, if I just go to 5.5km, I will only have 2km left to reach my weekly goal and sprint courses are usually at least 2.5km, so I can still reach my goal. Not wanting to fail in my weekly goal so early in the year, I talked myself into finishing the 5.5km, just as my stomach started to let its presence be known. Phew! Most uncomfortable run in a long time, my planned 8-10km didn’t happen, but I certainly did better than the 2km I had nearly stopped at, so I’ll count it as a win.

Sprint orinteering this week and it was our turn to help out. We had been put at the registration desk for the “first shift” – helping with set up of the tables and course info, then handling registrations, payments and handing out the control lists. Much easier job at a sprint event than a normal Summer Series for a few reasons – no maps to manage, only a single course and fewer participants with almost everyone a regular and knowing how it all works. We had a lovely area under some big gum trees for shade, the temperature had dropped back under 30 degrees and there was a lovely breeze. We also picked up our new Garingal team t-shirts. We had made the right call on sizing and they were lovely, light and comfortable.

We finished up our shift and sorted ourselves out, ready to run. Main problem was the site had no access to toilets or water. Water wasn’t an issue as we had brought our own, but no toilets was a bigger problem – we always try and do a “final visit” before a run, especially in summer when we have been drinking more water throughout the day. But today, it was not to be and we headed to the start, ready to make the best of it. It was the longest sprint course we had hit to date being advertised as just shy of 4km on the optimal route and was also called out as “flat”. Which it wasn’t. Admittedly, it didn’t have the steep hills of a typical north shore suburb, but it was enough to let you know there was definitely some elevation involved.

As a single option sprint course, a runner was given a map every 30 seconds to ensure no immediate following or crowding at the early controls. Nick took off before me and I followed next. First look at the map and it looked to be a tricky course, with a good number of route choices to be made getting around buildings between controls. The first few controls had Nick and I passing each other as we criss-crossed the map, until Nick got a bit more of a lead on me. Apparently he also saw me as he headed to the final control, as I headed towards the final 3. I passed a few people early one, and was passed by several more throughout the course.

The map was well marked, although I still had trouble at a couple of locations where controls were located up stairs, but I was looking at ground level. Overall though, with 23 controls to track down, I really only took more than a few seconds locating the control once – my gut and my brain disagreed, the brain took over but it turned out the gut had been right… Ah well, not too much time lost. And of course it was the only control I didn’t see a single other person nearby!

Around 2km in, the lack of toilet facilities at the start was starting to let itself be known. Yep – thanks very much kids for giving me a dodgy pelvic floor. The final 2kms was an exciting game of how fast can I run and not have a problem, and can I run down these stairs or not? Usually the answers were – not very – and – no. Not happy. As I approached the second last control, I was pushing along a flat stretch on tired legs and could hear someone just behind me, running ever so slightly faster than me. I just couldn’t push any harder though and they overtook me, getting to the last control slightly ahead of me. This wouldn’t do. It wasn’t far to the finish, downhill over ground littered with sticks. So I ran. Faster and faster. I overtook him with less than 100m to go and kept sprinting. That final 100m was at 3:30/km pace! And I was done.

Reviewing our runs later in the evening, our paths had been remarkably similar, with alternate routes taken only twice. While Nick was faster than me by almost 4 minutes over the 4+km course, I at least managed a few splits that were quicker than him. The results were published later the same night (very quick!) and we saw them this morning – neither of us came last in our category! We both came second last… Admittedly, for me at least, this was a great result as it meant I also came FIRST in my age category. Very happy with that . My only complaint regarding the event was the lack of toilest available. For future events, if there are no toilets available, I don’t think I will be running unless we can start as soon as we arrive…

Rogaining for 2018

The NSW Rogaining calendar for the year has been updated and there are now locations against most of the events. This lets us start looking to see if any of them are feasible for us to get to.

There are usually two within metro Sydney – the 6hr Metrogaine and the 3hr Minigaine – and both again look like we should be able to make them. The big one we want to get to is the 24hr NSW Champs and then it’s a matter of looking at how far out any of the others are and whether we can look at getting a babysitter for the day for the girls, a day or overnight visit with the grandparents or see if we can convince the grandparents to join us for a weekend away somewhere and turn it into a long weekend holiday for us all. There’s also the ACT rogaining calendar, dates are available but locations for these aren’t up yet, so decisions there will have to wait until closer to the dates.

So far the event list looks like this:
– February: 6hr Metrogaine – Coogee
– April: 3hr Minigaine – Scheyville
– May: 6/12hr Autumngaine – Wingello
– June: Paddy Pallin 6hr – Cessnock
– August: Lake Macquarie 6/12hr – Sugarloaf SCA
– September: 24hr NSW Champs – Abercrombie NP
– November: 6hr Socialgaine – Berowra

Out of these, it again looks like we should be able to make the Metrogaine, Minigaine and Socialgaine as they are all within the Sydney Metro area with less than an hour travel time each way. The three 6/12hr rogaines are all under 2hrs drive away – makes for a long day for a 6hr event, but could be fun to do the 12hr and make a weekend of it.  We also need some practice at night orienteering before we hit another 24hr rogaine!  The 24hr is very near the location of last years, making it a 3:30-4hr drive, this one will definitely be a full weekend away.

It is exciting to put this together. While we enjoy the pace of the shorter orienteering events and getting to regularly explore areas close to home, it’s the rogaines that we really enjoy. The longer style event really pushes us physically – as we slowly get fitter we have adjusted our goals from merely lasting the time out, to gradually increasing the distance we can cover. We also get to work as a team and spend an extended number of hours together.  Mostly we have to stay focused on the task at hand, but there’s time enough too for rambling conversations and contented silence, just enjoying being together, with a common goal in the peace of the bush. It’s a far cry from the constant busyness of life in the city with young kids.

Bring on this year!  I know we won’t get to all of them, but rogaines provide a great motivation to keep moving and getting fitter and stronger.

Huntergaine – The Map

Forgot to post the map in my main blog for the rogaine, so here it is.

This is Nick’s copy of the map and shows our initial plan – there was a slight change at the start and we added on a lot of the south west corner at the end.  Having it marked up like this also meant that as our brains got tired towards the second half of the event, we didn’t have to try and remember what our plan was and could just follow the lines – much easier!

Newcastle Rogaine – The “Huntergaine”!

Uninjured and with a little more consistent running in the previous couple of months, I was looking forward to this rogaine and seeing what ground we could cover. The weather forecast had progressively improved from a max of 28, down to a max of 25, although the humidity wouldn’t be pleasant. We made good time heading off from home and arrived at the hash house with around 45 minutes to go. Quick toilet stop and in to pick up our maps and tags.

The map was A2 at 1:20,000 with 10 metre contours – and damn, there were a lot of contours! Nick scanned the map for routes, while I marked up mine highlighting the highest point controls purple, mid point controls in orange and leaving the lowest scoring controls unmarked. We had also brought along some knotted and marked string for measuring our route, so as Nick plotted a course we had a rough idea of the distance we would need to cover to complete it. Our chosen course was approx 22km taking straight line between controls – perfect! We hurriedly shoveled in some food, marked up our proposed route on Nick’s map and the “flight plan” that we had to hand in and finished getting set up for the start.  This was definitely the quickest we had put together a route that we were still happy with after the event as well, maybe there’s something to this highlighter/string/organisation thing.

Before we knew it, the siren started and everyone was off. Well, sort of. First point of call was another toilet stop – and we weren’t the only ones with the same plan! Then we headed of for an easy walk towards the first control. Our plan was to start easy and warm up our legs before doing any running, knowing that there would be plenty of opportunity to stretch out the legs later.  Others were also taking their time and the first few controls were quite busy. It was actually the “busiest” rogaine we have been on – there was barely a control all day that didn’t have at least one other group around it while we were there and other than one quieter section, we would have had barely 5 minutes go by without seeing another team.

We managed to separate from the bulk of other competitors by the third control as we headed up our first hill for the day. It was stinking hot already and we were already starting to raise a sweat despite not having gone above a walk. I had to get Nick to slow down a bit a couple of times as we were pushing quite hard and my tummy wasn’t feeling great either. I tried to shake it off – drank some of the tailwind I had filled my hydration pack with and we managed to finally raise a jog along some gentle downhills and flats towards the next control.

We had been warned of daleks on the course and found our first (and only, for us) dalek here. There was a photo competition for the best snap of a “team with dalek” and some teams had some great entries. With all the hills on the course, there were also some fantastic views on offer. On we went, along hot, open streets that seemed to head straight up and down the steepest part of the hills. An in and out to grab a control which headed first down a steep hill, steps and then back up and out to continue on was especially cruel. Then it was finally in to the first bush area to grab some controls there. Finally, some shade!

But of course, it wasn’t going to be that easy. Yes, there was shade, but parts of the course were a popular mountain biking area, with trails criss-crossing all over the place. We avoided the worst of it thank goodness, but still hit a few patches where a compass would have been handy. Sections of the trails were very pretty and quiet. But for the most part it was steep up or down, with controls predominantly set in gullies or on watercourses where the mossies were gathering and it was rare to not be either within sight or earshot of another team.

Back out onto some roads briefly and I was struggling with the heat, humidity and my stomach. There were no shops indicated in the area but I didn’t think I Was going to be much good unless I could get something to eat soon – I was craving salty chips. So we took a slight detour to the local hospital and picked up some chips and soft drink (didn’t really need the drink…) and stumbled across another team enjoying the air conditioned cafe.

 

We didn’t stay long and pushed on still finishing off our drinks. Back down into the bush again on wider, easier trails this time. Still all hills though and after collecting a couple more controls and seeing yet another loooong hill, we were passed by another team who informed us that the hill formed part of the Blackbutt Parkrun – yikes, we’ve only been to flat parkruns, this one would be hard! The first hill was followed shortly after by another, steeper hill to take us up and out of the park and spit us back into the heat of the streets for the remainder of the event.

The chips had worked some magic, and we had refilled our hydration packs while in the park – me with some caffeinated tailwind, yeehaa!! We found ourselves able to start jogging parts of the course and making ground on several other teams in the area. The roads were still steep though, so running was saved for the flat or gentle downhills – walking on uphills and anything steep. We managed to do a decent clip this way and after several quite busy controls we took stock and realised we were well ahead of schedule. We updated our route to add in several more controls (and hills!) and continued on.

We then hit a long stretch between controls and it was all uphill… I think it was just over 1km of steady up, the body was unimpressed at this point and my calves started giving the occasional jab. My knees were feeling a bit wobbly after a bit too much downhill running, but otherwise I felt good. The tailwind was brilliant to keep me going and we paused briefly at the control once we got to the top of the hill – although the control itself was slightly down again with the description being “a gully”. We were seeing fewer other teams around at this point with around an hour to go and several kilometres ahead of us still.

With two controls to go, there were other teams all over the place picking up some final points before finishing up. We made it in with 10 minutes to spare – perfect! We had planned an appropriate route and were able to add on some extras when we realised we were ahead of where we expected. In the end we covered over 26km in just under 6 hours and picked up 1690 points (out of a total 3310 available). A quick check of the scoreboard showed the highest score that had been logged was 2800 with most under 1500, however we had not been added yet and we knew the majority of high scoring teams would probably be cutting it fine and coming in close to the buzzer.

Final control!

We had to get going though, so made our way back to the car to stretch, get changed and head of in search of a servo for some food and drink. We heard the final siren just before we got going and could see some of the last teams charging to the finish to reduce any point loss. I did some quick sums in the car while Nick drove, my guess was we would be around 1/3 of the way through the overall standings, while Nick was more pessimistic and thought we would be in the bottom half overall.

Despite stretching before we left, we had over an hours driving ahead of us and by the time we stopped our feet and legs were feeling a bit tender. Nick had some sunburn and I discovered some nasty chafing. Overall we felt tired, but generally pretty good. We had walked for most of the day which helped, although our running shoes are definitely not the best walking shoes. One day later, and my glutes are really the only thing giving me grief, seizing up whenever I sit at my desk for more than 10 minutes (ie all the time).  We both got a little much sun, but nothing too bad.

Elevation profile – so many hills!

So how did we go? Results were out quickly and our 1690 points gave us an overall standing of 34 out of a total 90 teams. The highest scoring team collected 3170 points! Within the Mixed category we placed 21 out of 52 teams and in Mixed Veterans we were 13 out of 23. We’re pretty happy with that effort. We covered 26.5km and strava gave us 750m elevation for our route – no wonder we were feeling it!  Another awesome rogaine – and the final one for the year.

NSW Orienteering Sprint Champs

The orienteering NSW Sprint Champs! A very different event to what we are used to where you just turn up and run whenever you feel like it. We had to pre-register for this one, choosing which difficulty level we wanted to do and this, combined with our age, would put us in a specific competition category. There were three different “Hard” categories of varying distances, but controls would be located in a way to provide a challenge on every leg on each. Hard 1 was only for the youngest and fittest male competitors (very sexist), Hard 2 was for most men and the start of the women’s classes, while Hard 3 was for the more senior age groups and for those that wanted a slightly shorter but still challenging course. Nick and I both entered the Hard 2 course – the most difficult/longest we could.

There were also a Moderate, Easy, Very Easy and Wheelchair course along with a String course for the little kids and a maze challenge. We had been assigned set start times – they were 40 minutes apart, they must know we have to keep an eye on kids so can’t be running at the same time. Nick had the first start time at 10:17am and as we pulled up to the venue (a school) we could see tents and flags set up along the oval. We parked on the street near an entrance gate which turned out to be very close to where we were headed – very convenient with two girls in tow.

We wandered up to the main oval where everyone seemed to be gathered. There was a large inflatable finish arch, a control set up in the far corner of the oval which forced most runners to do a “spectator leg” and the loud speaker system set up to provide commentary. We passed a small sign with “Start” written on it and an arrow pointing down the hill away from everything else, but couldn’t see where it led. So we checked out everything in the main area before finding someone to ask how the whole thing worked and what we had to do – this was on a much bigger scale than we usually see. not long until Nicks start time, so we made a pit stop and followed the start sign to find ourselves at the start corral.

There were two clocks set up, the first 3 minutes ahead and when your time showed up on it you made your way to the starting area to get checked in. Then it was a step forward at each minute – two minutes to go you could pick up a control list. 1 minute to go and you picked up your map (but no peeking!) and waited for the countdown as you are given final instructions which are just a repeat of things already mentioned – don’t cross the flower beds, olive colour on the map is out of bounds – then BUZZZZZZ – and you’re off. Two runners head off at the same time, but each running on different courses so there can be no following.

It was an unusual start to an event, since no one has looked at a map at the start, you don’t even know which direction to start heading in. Look at the map, make sure you are on the right side of it, find the start, find the first control, pick a route and only then do you start moving with any sort of purpose. Nick was off, so the girls and I headed back to the main area to have something to eat and look out to see when he would make the run across the oval to the spectator control. It seemed to come around very quickly, with his name called out over the loud speaker giving a time and current standing, time behind/ahead of other competitors in his class.

We finished our snacks, had a quick chat with my uncle – who had just finished running the Hard 3 course – and before we knew it Nick was finished in around 23 minutes! We had both been expecting the course to take closer to 30 minutes, so this was a surprise and a nice indication to me that the course wouldn’t be as long as we had feared. Unlike most courses where you already have a map and can compare course notes, the only “advice” Nick could offer up was that the start was “hard”. Which is what my uncle had already let me know and didn’t offer anything in the way of guidance – just as it should be. Although I think he did say there were a lot more stairs than he expected.

Event photo of Nick running around the side of the oval – ha has air!

Not long and it was time to head down for my turn. The start area was thinning out a bit now with only one runner starting in the group ahead of me and no other runner starting with me. I nervously waited my last couple of minutes in the corral, picked up my map, listened to the final instructions and then I was off! Well, I wandered off looking at my map – upside down, then the wrong side, then struggled to find the start location (got it) then had to find the next control – the only leg that wasn’t drawn asa straight line on the map! Then tossing up which way to go, dammit, stop wasting time, pick a line and just get moving – so off I went. Despite the dithering, once I got going the first control was an easy one as was the next. My Garmin buzzed – huh? There’s no way I’ve already done a kilometre. Nope, I’d forgotten to start it and it was threatening to turn off. Great, get the Garmin going, better late than never.

I made my way to the third control and it wasn’t where I expected. Was I in the right building? Had I somehow gone straight past it, or not gone far enough. I wandered a bit further, back again, off to each side, but I couldn’t see it. That was it, I saw another control and thought if it was on my map then I could confirm my location and work backwards. Yep – this control was on the second side of my map and had me exactly where I thought I was. I headed back again – aha! It was tucked away just inside the building stairwell, if I had looked over my shoulder just a smidge further when I first stopped I would have saved nearly two minutes! Can’t dwell on mistakes though or I’ll bomb the whole thing, move on and just keep running. Controls 4, 5, 6 and 7 passed by and I started getting in the swing of things. Quick decision to be made about route choice from 7 to 8, up dozens of stairs, then down some into the middle of a small amphitheatre.

My event photo – I smiled, but it doesn’t look like I’m doing much.

Back up and out of the mess of buildings and into the open for the longer legs across ovals. This was easier and I could just run without having to glance at the map every 2 seconds. Straight across the large oval, up a road and then back in for the spectator leg. The runner before me was announced, but as I ran across, nothing was said – wow, I must be doing badly! A glance at my Garmin showed I was doing sub-6 minute pace which I was happy with. Picked up the control and turned to make my way back out of the main area, two more controls, a run back past the start area and time to flip the map to the second side!

I’m in there somewhere!

First control on this side was all the way up to the top of the ridge and back down the other side – so many stairs. Then another longish leg to control 15 that had me winding my way up stairs and around buildings. A quick dash out to 16, split decision as to which way to head for 17 as two speedier runners behind me caught up and headed the opposite way I did. One beat me there but then took longer getting to the next one – then it was up more stairs and the both passed me. Finally, the end was in sight. One more control, smile for the photographer as I run past and on up through the finish arch. Done.

My final time was 27:59 and as the final competitor in my age group put me in fourth place.  There were only five in my category, but shhh, no one needs to know that!  I was less than one minute off third place and fifth place was just under a minute after me – so it was all pretty close.  Other than when I thought I was completely lost at control 3, I had so much fun doing this event.  I started slowly, but by the second half of the event I was picking up a lot – only one of my legs between controls in the second half wasn’t a top 3 effort, I even had one that I was fastest for.

While I ran, Nick had taken the girls off to do the string course which they loved.  On bumping into my uncle again after my run, he asked how the girls went on their course at which my youngest declared “We won!”.  She was terribly proud of it.  So I asked my uncle if he won too – and he did, first in his age category!  Got to be some good genes in there with my uncle still running well at 80.

Summer Series – Belrose

A bit warmer than recent weeks but the wind kept the heat off, although the headwind was a bit rough at times. There was no apparent design to the way the points had been scattered across the map, with high and low points placed all over. A lot of the points were “in and out” options, positioned in dead end streets or trails, making it trickier to piece together a smooth route.

With almost identical plans in place, Nick and I headed off at the same time for the first in and out 30 pointer. As usual, the first kilometre or so was a struggle and only a couple hundred metres in my breathing was rough – no idea what my pace was, but probably too fast as I struggled to keep Nick in sight.

The controls were fairly easy to spot, so there was little stopping to search anywhere, but I slowed to a walk on the short hills. A decent bit of bush track which we covered half of. I felt almost on my own out here, there was a young teenager out getting a bit lost on the map, but he had the advantage of speed on me – after tagging a few controls ahead of him we parted ways as we chased different controls. My brain was in gear at least and tracking my location was easy, not so good for one guy I passed looking a little confused on the trails who I ended up passing again later on as he flew straight past another control.

Unknowingly, Nick had me in sight from my third control (his fourth) and was able to conveniently follow me around the course for the next eight controls!! He gained on me almost every step of the way, but never quite caught up as we then headed in different directions. I had a long but easy run ahead of me still, I had planned for avoiding hills this week and luckily the map allowed for it. The final section of the map was a constant debate working out which controls to get in the time remaining to ensure I made it back under the 45 minutes.

I grabbed the high scoring controls, but made the (wrong) decision to leave a 10 pointer out as I was worried about time. In the end, despite some walking, I was back with nearly two minutes to spare and could have picked it up. I was reasonably happy with my effort – the course required a lot of distance for the points, with many in and outs and a couple of big hills (which I avoided) to get many of them.

I finished with 320 points in just over 43 minutes and covered spot on 6km. Nick picked up 360 points, having picked up the extra 30 pointer near the start and the 10 pointer I had left out. Other than those, the only difference in our routes was an extra 30 pointer we each picked up – mine left me with an optional 30 pointer near the end which could be added on if time permitted, while Nick finished with 4 minutes to spare but no extra controls to add on.

My legs were tired at the end, I had pushed them a bit this week, but my pace is definitely picking up – it’s nice to see some improvement. The most obvious sign to me is how long it took Nick to catch up.. I still managed to come last in my age group, however since there were only 3 of us in it this week and the other two are very strong, I expected nothing else.

For those following the map, my route was 27-4-24-14-3-23-13-12-5-16-17-30-19-29-18.