As a proud sponsor of Rogaining SA here at ioMerino, we’ve travelled to a number of different locations (bushes, forests, national parks, hills, you name it!) locally within South Australia – and even up to Alice Springs for the World Rogaining Championships – over the past couple of months to fly the ioFlag at their adventure events! We even sent the ioHead Honcho David Michell to the most recent event, the Mount Crawford 6HR Bush Rogaine, with our big red tent, vouchers, prizes and a range of our trail tested and recommended thermal layers for everyone to try and feel! Trail runner and rogainer Sarah Murphy competed in this event, and stayed warm and comfortable in her ioMerino layers out on the trails. Here’s her take on the day…
Written by Sarah Murphy.

It’s been two years since I competed in a Rogaine with my old partner in crime Liv Oliver, and even longer since we’d competed as a duo. We met back in 2003 when she started working at the same place as me, as a graduate engineer. One of my first memories of her was a Friday pub lunch, where she’d ordered the identical thing to me – a chicken schnitzel with gravy and a pint of Stella. I knew at that moment that we were going to get along just fine.

In 2005 I’d introduced her to rogaining at a 6-hour event and after that day I’m surprised she ever agreed to Rogaine with me again. We’d made a stupid decision to short cut a hairpin on the way up a road and cut our legs to shreds on blackberries. We eventually made it up to the top and stumbled into the local pub which was nearby, bleeding and dirty, for a cold lemonade before venturing back into the adjacent conservation park. Somewhere along the way I’d turned around and realised I was missing my partner. I found her up the track a little way lying on the ground receiving a leg massage and salt tablets from a fellow rogainer after she’d succumbed to a cramp. We finished that day in 24th place. It was also the last time for a very long time that I would be fitter than her.

Over the years we’ve trained together, run together and rogained together, becoming great mates. Somewhere along the way we learnt to work as a well-tuned team, pretty much knowing how the other is thinking and feeling often without having to ask. When there are long periods of silence, it usually means we’re hurting, when questions are answered with a grunt rather than an actual sentence, it usually means food is required, and quickly.

Over the last few years Liv has been busy having kids. I’ve competed in a few events with other partners over that time, all of which have been a blast and very competitive. But for the 6-hour “Gold Rush” Bush Rogaine event, held in Mount Crawford Forest here in South Australia, it was time to get the dynamic duo back together.

Liv has two kids under two and a half, and works part time. So you could say she has her hands full. She doesn’t get a lot of time to train. Her longest run since having her second baby in October last year was 20-odd kilometres, back in March. She said her expectations were ‘realistic’ for this event, and she wanted to cover around 32km. Maybe we’d make the top 10. I knew that once we got started her competitive spirit would kick in and she’d find a whole new level of fitness that she’d forgotten she had.

At the start of a 6-hour Rogaine event you’re given a map and two hours to plan a route before the event begins. The aim is to collect as many points as possible over the 6-hours, and make it back to the ‘Hash House’ (event HQ) before the time is up. Every minute late equals a 10-point penalty.

Once upon a time we used to spend every minute of the planning time agonising over our route choice. This time we had a route planned in less than 30-minutes. After such a long break from rogaining, were we kidding ourselves? Cocky? Too lazy to spend more time looking at the map? We convinced ourselves to spend a bit more time looking over the options, where could we add additional controls if we had time, what could we short cut if we were running late. Was there a better route option? A friend pointed out that there was a bonus 80-points on offer for collecting all eight ‘mine site’ controls. An alluvial gold rush occurred in the Mount Crawford area in the late nineteenth century, which is where the event got its name. We’d completely missed the bonus points on offer, but fortunately had planned to visit all the mines anyway. We made some minor tweaks before getting out the permanent marker to mark up our maps and spending the rest of the time getting some food on board.

The event started at 11am. It was a chilly day in Mount Crawford Forest, but it was going to be fine and we figured we’d warm up quickly once off the exposed ridge where the Hash House was located. Perfect weather for ioMerino gear, who were also sponsors of the event. There was a cluster of 20-point controls around the Hash House, which we assumed everyone would head to first, creating a lot of congestion. We decided to leave these till the end and head straight out to some controls further afield. Sometimes a risky strategy if you’re running short on time at the end.

We were quickly on our own, followed only by another male team, who looked to be having a few navigational challenges, so we tried to move quickly to avoid being followed for too long. We’d elected to cover the flatter pine forest area of the map first up, the strategy being to cover the more runnable areas while our legs were fresh. The native scrub areas would be slower due to the more hilly terrain and scrub to get through to the controls, so might as well do this in the second half when we were slower due to fatigue anyway.

It’s always a little unnerving when you find yourselves alone on a relatively small course with a large number of teams. Clearly our route was an unconventional one, which could mean it was brilliant, or really dumb.

After some time we did start seeing some other teams, although few seemed to be following our route. We were moving well, and faster than expected, and were nailing the navigation. We momentarily lost concentration in the forest at one point and were confused by an unmarked track, but managed to relocate ourselves quickly with the aid of the compass and some good map reading. Good to see we’ve still got it!

The second brain fade for the day occurred when we were stopped by a Scout Group out walking (without a map) who were looking for directions to the local camp ground. Knowing I’d been there the weekend before for the Mount Crawford Trail race, I pointed to a spot on the map and gave them directions, before we took off again. A few minutes later we realised we’d sent them to the wrong camp ground. Ooops, sorry guys! But seriously, no maps? Whatever happened to scouts being prepared? Hopefully they eventually found their way home.

We’d included a couple of options in our route for additional controls that we could add in if things were going well. The first was a no-brainer, and it wasn’t long before we realised we’d have to add in the other one, or end up back at the Hash House very early. Unfortunately, this meant a 2km out and back along a road to collect 70-points. Never much fun, but a good decision in the end.

The hours went quickly, and amongst the general gossip conversation was a constant commentary on the terrain and map features. This is undoubtedly the secret to successful navigation and the reason we make such a good team. We verbalise every feature as we pass it, matching it to the map. “This is the first watercourse, high ground on the left, track junction coming up on the right…” You get the picture.

Heading back towards the Hash House, collecting the smaller controls on the way in, we knew we’d be back early, but had no option to collect more controls. The only ones we’d left out were too far afield to contemplate picking up now. We finished with 27-minutes to spare on 2000 points, which sounded like a good score.

Unable to stay for the results presentations, we later found out we’d finished in fourth place overall, and second women’s team. We’d also covered 37.5km, which was way beyond our expectations and a testament to Liv’s determination (and competitiveness). Who needs to train?

I’m not sure we were the fourth fittest team out there, or that we had one of the best routes. But I’m willing to bet that our team work was amongst the best there is, and is surely the secret to rogaining success.

I’m looking forward to many more rogaines in the future, and hopefully getting back into the longer events. Liv says all those sleepless nights getting up to kids has surely improved her 24-hour endurance!

For the interested rogainers, here are the technical details:

From the HH we headed south, then in an anticlockwise direction: 32, 34, 51, 80, 74, 64, 50, 72, 60, 65, 33, 53, 62, 44, 91, 75, 82, 73, 70, 52, 63, 83, 41, 71, 30, 92, 81, 67, 54, 43, 21, 22, 66, 31, 20

Total points 2000 out 2310

Controls left out were predominantly in the north-west corner, in Warren Conservation Park.

My ioMerino gear:

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