TriHards Logo - Live Free or TriHard!


Live Free, or TriHard!

27 September 2008

We’re Number 1!

Before we started this event we had to do something called “Preparation”. This is a relatively new thing for us; as normally our bold leader Chris would have ensured that coffee was available at strategic points and we’d have spare indemnity forms. However on this occasion he was sunning himself on a beach in WA so it was up to us. To start we registered as early as possible and as the title clearly states - We’re number 1 and so we was (frequently I am complimented for my breath taken use of the English language).

Our preparation included all the usual forms, compasses and highlighters, however we also gave special consideration to shoes, pants and the best type of fruit and nut bars. After Bas cleverly wore holes in his foot last time using joggers in the ACTRA Metrogaine, we opted for a light hiking boot and pre-taping the areas where rubbing was likely to occur. Being a night event we choose some heavy-duty cargo pants that served us well.

We met up early and began the drive out to Blue Range Hut, compliments must go to the organiSers, the directions were excellent and it was easily found. Realistically this is the first piece of navigation for the event and we passed - Go the Trihards!

Upon receiving the map and examining the guidance we planned three loops out from the Hash House (the start) the first quite large heading north-east, the next due west and finally a very small one south (which we dutifully named “Wishful Thinking”). Of course the key would be examining where we were at a given time and how far we had to go and adapting appropriately.

Being this was Charles’ first rogaine the goal was not to come first, we were already number 1 and we were missing a few things required for us to be contenders, namely:

Workplace safety at the clothesline.

A good piece of advice is to laminate the control card and put it on lanyard (our lanyard was a bright yellow one about workplace safety). The control card is pegged to a clothesline prior to the race. When the whistle blows, the race begins by grabbing your card- a bright lanyard makes it easier to spot.

The field split in two at this point, basically heading north and south. The rules for this event stated that everyone had to visit checkpoint 30 and few of us decided to make that trip early.

Reaching the top of the first hill, we appeared to do what no other team had thought of, and stop at a few spots for a photo. The area out around Blue range Hut has some really nice views of Canberra and we thought we should enjoy them as the light was not likely to last much longer.

Happy TriHards at the start of the race.
See, that’s them sneaking past while we were taking our team photo!

Our second checkpoint down (actually up) revealed that someone had been along every hillside for miles around with a grader of some sort, creating little embankments for little pine trees, followed by a little ditch and so on in rings around every hill. This discovery would prove to be less interesting as it got dark and we kept stumbling into ditches half way up a hillside... It was also at this point that Charles began to realise that running down a very steep hill forces your toes against the inside of your shoes ...

Our plan for checkpoint 60, next to the creek, was to get the checkpoint and cross the creek, then shoot up a hill and save some time not having to backtrack to a road before heading up. It’s important to note at this point that just because grass is growing and something is green does not mean that it’s not wet. We crossed the creek reasonably successfully and were now confident that walking in wet boots was the only way to ensure that they fit properly and this would be an excellent way to run them in. So on this basis the shortcut was excellent.

Capt’n Chuckles tending his toes.
An injured TriHard puts on a brave face for the camera.

However as it turned out, wet shoes and the aforementioned running down steep hills took it’s toll on Charles’ pinky toes, however the brave men of the TriHards are not to proud to carry some medical supplies, just in case, pinkies were strapped to the remaining toes to ensure they didn’t run wee, wee, wee all the way home. With toes tended to, we made good time to the next checkpoint 50.

Checkpoint 81, the next checkpoint from 50, did not seem very far away, the only issue seemed to be that the organisers had placed it on top of a large hill. This seems to be the trend with the high-value checkpoints bringing about another one of the famous Trihards quotes, “When in doubt keep going up!”

An hour or so into the race on a stunningly clear night and sprits are high - it is time for an interval and happily Charles’ knowledge of Astronomy came to the fore. Using Charles’ knowledge of the Southern Cross in relationship to Alpha Centauri to locate where the South Pole is, and so determine by use of the stars which direction south was, combined with the examination of our compass we were able to conclude that the stars were still in the correct location - quite a relief. After reaching the top - it took a while and was a very steep hill and so this section has been inserted in order for you to appreciate just how steep it was and how long it took - we made a quick call home to check on Charles’ daughter who had a very nasty case of chicken pox. The bad news was that she was not sleeping well and it looked like a long night for Charles’ better half.

After being overtaken as we were heading down the hill we noticed at the bottom of the hill that the overtaking team went left rather then straight - which brought about the question “Do they know something we don’t?” Looking at the map we made the decision to stick with our plan of going straight and about 10 minutes later we had the pleasure of them overtaking us again, with the comment along the lines of “story of the tortoise and the hare, hey!” To which we replied “We only hope that there is a BBQ at the end of that one”.

Bas teases the blackberries which would seek revenge later in the evening.
Bas teases the blackberries which would seek revenge later in the evening.

What begins with “B” and ends in “lackberry”? We’ll give you a moment to consider that one, while we regretfully inform you that that is what we ran into attempting to get to checkpoint 80. Our Cargo pants were good, but not that good. We were forced to make some quick re-navigation to get around things and as we did we passed the team that had offered the walking advice earlier, obviously coming back from 80, it appeared that their strategy appeared to be working well.

Now we were a few hours into the event and I have to say that the hard men of the Trihards were starting to tire somewhat and we were only 2/3rds of the way around our first loop. A quick examination of the map suggested we shorten this loop by 3 checkpoints, swing back to the Hash house collecting a couple more checkpoints along the way and consider (depending on energy) maybe doing our third loop, the little one “Wishful Thinking”.

Bas at the halfway mark.
Bas at the halfway mark.

As we approached Checkpoint 70 Charles’ phone rang; a priority call for assistance which demanded attention. Calling it a night we made for the Hash house. Sounds like it was just around the corner, doesn’t it? No, it wasn’t ... we walked, and we walked, and then we walked some more (making one wrong turn - which luckily did not put us too far off track), and then we walked again until we arrived. At approximately 10.30 we were the first to finish (we are number 1!) and sadly a little early for the BBQ, however the excellent organisers were kind enough to supply us with Muffins for our trip home.

It is at this point that I (Charles) must defer to the lycra clad freaks (no offense) who actually managed to collect almost all the checkpoints, I just don’t know how it was possible! Words cannot describe the overwhelming exhaustion and fatigue that gripped me in that last few kms back to the hash house. I was absolutely shattered!!! That said we actually managed to collect some 390 points over a period of 4 hours and 22 minutes resulting in 24th place, and wait for it, it gets even better, there were 28 teams !!!!

*Obviously we can do this during the day, night is just different, and we simply choose not to in the day, but we could... if we chose to.

Race Stats

Date: 27 September, 2008
Times: 4:30 p.m. registration for 6:00 p.m. start.
Organiser: ACT Rogaining Association
Location: Blue Range Hut Reserve
TriHards: Bas (Mr GPS), Charles (Capt’n Charles)
Result: 4:22
Placement: 24/28 Overall, 12/13 Male

Lessons Learned

You will hear this about any Rogaines but particularly night ones-Navigation is more difficult at night and you need to keep your bearings.

The wrong turn on the way back was due to a road being added that was not on the map - if I had been more awake I would have realised that it was obviously just next to a new fence - the map did not match up quite right and I had an iffy feeling about following it, you need to follow you instinct on these things.