Sunday, March 20, 2011

The great rogaine debacle of 2009

I was just trawling through my old LiveJournal account, abandoned since 2009. My last post made me laugh because I'd been thinking of dusting off my walking boots to do a bit of an exploration of the Bay of Fires in the NE of Tasmania. The boots haven't been used since what could probably be called 'The Great Rogaine Debacle of 2009', which was recounted in my last LiveJournal entry. It was the 2009 Tasmanian Rogaine Championships. I'd only done the small 45 mins Sydney Summer Series mini rogaines, so when Dad asked me if I wanted to do a proper rogaine with me, I suggested that maybe we do the concessionary 8 hr, as opposed to the traditional 24 hr rogaine. For those who've never heard of a rogaine (ahh..... more innocent times), it's a masochistic exercise, the bastard cousin of orienteering, where you're given a map with numbered markers (which are worth between 10 to 30 points), a hint sheet (eg. south and bottom of the cliff, in the middle of the clump of spiky weeds) and let loose in the bush. You have to get to as many markers in 24 hours, or at least get as many points as possible. Therefore you should plan to go a route that is not only manageable but strategically crosses the best weighted markers. In Sydney, you run along roads, foreshore bush tracks and various other human friendly areas. What I didn't realise in the true rogains is that it's quite the opposite. Anyway, I'll let the following entry from 30th November 2009 explain the rest:

0 mins: it's pouring, freezing cold

10 mins: Dad suddenly realises when we get up to the first ridge that he was holding the map upside down and we were actually meant to be going in the exact opposite direction.

20 mins: we leave from the Hash House for the second time, this time in the right direction (slightly puffed).

30 mins: we are standing in a valley. I say 'I think the first marker is over there by the tree edge'. Dad says 'no, these maps are deceiving luce, believe me, it's over the next ridge'.

1hr: still no marker. I finally convince dad that we are near the second marker and that we should forget the second one, which was back where I said it was. I ask what the hint sheet says, and dad tells me that he left it in the boot of the car. We crash through the bush for quite a while longer, with dad running away from the second marker and back again a few times, before I finally spot it.

1.5 hours: we are on the top of a ridge after crashing through more spiky weeds and near-impenetrable fences, most adorned with barbed wire, some with electricity. I stop to empty my boots which had become buckets, and wring out my socks. I apply a bandaid to a blister on my heel, while dad obsesses over the compass. [21.03.11 note: Dad at this point introduced me to my now favourite saying: 'false economy'. Apparently I should have told him that my heel was hurting before the blister formed. Yet if you'd seen his frantic 'must go on regardless' state, you wouldn't ask to stop even if a Tasmanian Tiger had devoured half your leg]

2 hours: we make it to number 11. Easy. Dad readjusts the compass.

2.5 hours: still looking for the next marker. Dad runs up the cliff then back down again, even after admitting that it was too far away from the river. I wander down to the spot where the marker is meant to be, while dad decides to run off over the next ridge in the opposite direction, scaring the sheep. The Derwent rages below. I find the marker, while dad is out of earshot, and I briefly joke with a group of two girls (one of only two groups we bumped into the whole rogaine) about males and navigation. They comment that he seems to have 'a lot of energy'. He finally returns, and we swipe our tags and continue up the cliffs, dad raging up like a demented mountain goat ahead of me.

3 hours: we find the next marker, after dad unnecessarily leads us downhill through the weedy and more dense scrub, and then back up again despite my protestations. The two girls are at the marker too having followed the higher road, and laugh sympathetically with me as I ask dad if he wants take his compass bearings and he replies 'no it's this way... it just feels right'.

4 hours: the blister rears its ugly head once more and requires another boot drainage, sock wringing and blister bandage (the last one).

4.5 hours: I see a copperhead snake just as I'm about to step on it in the long grass, and jump higher and further than I ever have.

5 hours: we have reached the lyall highway again after grass bashing our way through muddy paddocks, around electric fences, and through barbed wire fences. Dad decides to take the road that leads away from the Hash House in the hope of getting a mere 28 point marker. As we walk up the road, he works out that we are 8 km away from HH as the crow flies (ie. lots of hills between us), and that even at our initial speed we wouldn't be able to make it back by 8 even if we don't get any more markers. Meanwhile, I'm limping because the blister has burst, the bandage has unstuck in the wet. I'm in pain beyond belief.

6 hours: We cut into a property, climbing over a gate, which tears my beautiful raincoat. we trudge up a weed infested hill, the same spiky plants that have been getting us the whole rogaine but on a thicker and taller scale than we have so far seen. we give up on the marker that should be nearby.

7 hours: deciding that we are on 'prohibited land' (as if I cared by that stage), dad leads us over a fence, across a creek and into a steep, rocky, weed and spiky bush-infested slope. My raincoat is torn on the arm from a thorny tree. We see the 45 marker up the hill, but decide to give up on the markers due to time (and on my part, pain). I start wishing that I had been bitten by the snake at 4.5 hrs so that I would no longer be here.

7.5 hours: wading through a sea of spiky weeds (the feet pain has put the spiky weed pain into perspective), we come out at another road, and then trudge up the hill, dad counting down the minutes, and getting worried. Poor thing! I feel extremely guilty for slowing him down and making him worried. I also feel like throwing a tantrum, but decide to smile instead to try and make him cheer up. I finally gather up the courage to ask if we can stop and fix my water which stopped working a long time ago. He scolds me for not telling him earlier [false economy, again], then points up the hill we have to climb. More spiky weeds.

8 hours: Tasmanian twilight colours, the relentless hills and exhaustive walking reminds me of recent movie about Tasmanian convict Alexander Pierce and his gang of co-escapees. Decide not to eat dad though.

8 hours and 7 minutes: dad announces that we have just lost 70 hard (and that's an understatement) earned points. The sun is setting, slowly but surely. The good news is that we are nearing the original 'second' marker. The familiar surroundings give me a kick.

8 hours and 31 minutes: we are now officially disqualified. Dad's running to and fro looking for the 1st marker that we missed. He spots it finally, and despite our determination to get it on the way back, the 100m detour and extra fence crossing is enough to deter us.

8 hours 35 minutes: still trudging up the steep hill through the thick ferny mounds. Good resistance training I think as I limp through them.

8 hours 40 minutes: We squeeze through and over 2 fences. I have lost all control of my limbs it seems.

8 hours 50 minutes: we roll into the HH, having lost all points. 'At least we got here before 9pm', we think....

At 10.30pm we roll into [my driveway]. I have a burst blister on my right heel to rival my Milanese blister, an angry but intact one on my left, blisters on 5 of my toes, and bruises on both legs. I pull two spikes out of each hand, relics of the weeds that 'blessed' us the entire way. Dad asks me if I want to do another rogaine.

So there it is. At least I can laugh at my account now. Oh and if this description doesn't put you off wanting to try out a rogaine, you can visit the Rogaining Tasmania website or the national Rogaining Australia. My dad is still doing them at every opportunity, in fact he's now helping organise them for the NSW org. I might just stick to the Sydney Series shorties where the worst that can happen to you is a clump of Lantana and a nippy Maltese Terrier.

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