What DamBusters Taught Us

I think this was one of the most successful and educational rogaines we’ve been on. Of course, we always learn something at every event, and we’re constantly getting better, but I feel like we’re moving away from the novice levels here and really getting into the nitty gritty of the sport now.

So, here are a few of fresh new nuggets of wisdom we’ve picked up this past weekend:

The 11th hour is aptly named

Yup, the 11th hour of this 12 hour rogaine was hell. We were both exhausted, achy, tired, and far far away from a warm meal and a soft bed.

E also has a breaking point

And we found it during the last few hours of the rogaine. I thought she was unstoppable, but once she hit the wall, she was the same as me. Tired, silly, fuzzy brained, and just wanted to go home.

Why do they always put the Hash House so. Far. AWAY!?

No moon = blind as bats

Generally speaking, rogaines are organised to be on or as near to a full moon as possible for best chances of night light. Of course, nothing can be done about cloud cover, but still, on a full moon night, the clouds have to be pretty thick to totally blot out the moonlight.

And then, there are events like this one, which had just a sliver of a moon, which meant NO MOON LIGHT.

I had not realised just how much we relied on that ambient light to allow us to be aware of where we are on the map. With just a little puddle of light from a head lamp, I felt lost, blind… confined even. My awareness of my surroundings was next to nil. I am going to need a much better head lamp and torch if we have to go out in those kind of conditions again.

Don’t drop your compass

Just before dark, we pulled out of control 73 onto the track. I unpacked my bag, digging for my long-sleeved shirt, and when I pulled off my current (sopping wet) shirt, I got tangled in my compass string, so I popped my compass off, and set it on the ground and thought, “Now, I must remember to pick that up!” and then proceeded to NOT pick it up, forgetting in those few moments between changing my shirt, repacking my bag and hurrying up to get to the next control.

It was nearly a km further down the track, when we got to the bush and I went to pull out my compass to set a bearing, that I realised what I had done.

Amber, you remember that look on my face when the garage door opener flew out the window of the car on the highway?

Yeah, I made that face!

And then E was stuck with the responsibility of navigating completely on her own, without back up from me. And I had the responsibility of just keeping up with her in the bush, and providing motivation. I don’t think I did a terribly good job, but she sure did excellent!

Mine looked like this, but had a yellow string.

It’s damn hard to be 12 hours hard work fit

Without doing 12 hours of exercise at a time on a regular basis, just how are you supposed to be able to get fit enough to just keep going and going and going like that?!

Really, that fitness level is the next barrier to our success at this game.

Packing well means less delays at stops

Both of us packed our bags better than usual, and the only time I really spent longer than I should have digging through my bag was when I was changing my shirt – I put the shirt at the bottom, thinking I was going to need a complete change, so planned to pull out thermal leggings, jacket and long sleeved shirt all at once. As it turns out I was very warm and had no need of the leggings or jacket despite the fact that it was only 5 degrees out.

When we stopped, we were quick and efficient. We carried only slightly more food than we needed, but not the excess we usually do. My foot kit was easily accessible with all the key pieces I needed to make sure my blisters were taken care of on the spot. We were generally in and out of controls quickly, and our longest stops were usually around 5 minutes long, rather than the 20 they sometimes dragged out to in previous events.


My foot first aid kit

Course planning is a multi-faceted and complex process

and we may never get it right, but we seem to be getting better at it.

Our general strategy is to highlight the high point controls, look at clusters and add up all the points available in the cluster. Rarely is there 2000 points in a single cluster, so we look at adjacent clusters and establish how many points are available if we do sections x and y or a and b or a and y, etc.

Then we start looking for the shortest possible route within the chosen clusters to get the points target we’re aiming at, while remembering that 40km is pretty much the limit of what we can do in 12 hours. Also keeping in mind that string distance does not equal on the ground distance, which is always more because there are ups and down, and mis-navs and searching and back-tracking to account for overall distance as well.

Once we get down to a possible one or two routes, we start picking them apart – what’s the best attack point, what’s the best direction to go through this course, can we drop this one and pick up that one, do we really want to go there or avoid that area…

Then we list our bearings and attack points for each control.

Once the course is selected, we set time targets. For example, where we expect/need to be at 3, 6, and 9 hours along the course to ensure we are on-track. And where we expect to be when dark hits.

And if we ever have time, I would like to suggest that this is were we also make some course adjustments and consider if we’re being realistic.

But we always run out of time about then. 🙂

Sometimes you can just be too tired to smile for the camera

Case in point

Case in point

It definitely helps to get course advice from the setter

We had a nice chat with Ian, who was one of the guys who set the course, the evening before the rogaine, and we asked him if he had any advice for us. He said, “Stay out of the pine plantations and stick to the tracks.”

I don’t know if that’s advice he would have offered up had he been sober, but boy, did it help!

Knee and blister management are helpful, but there’s nothing you can do to combat complete fatigue

Except, I guess, just plug away at it.

Let the legs walk, let the brain navigate. Stop thinking about it and just keep moving.

I feel I should point out that I did not make it out of this rogaine without blisters – I still got blisters on both feet – but there were fewer and they were smaller and less painful than in previous events.

Amen! Hallelujah!!

But all the support and strapping and management in the world did not prepare me for the fact that ALL of the muscles in my legs would start to hurt and cramp and weaken and want to STOP.

Nor have I ever had my calves hurt so much that when Mat offered to massage them I said no because they hurt to touch!

True story.

French braids really did make my hair more manageable

When I took my hair out, it still smelled fresh and clean, unlike the rest of me, which after 53 hours without a wash and some serious sweating, was pretty manky and ripe! Iew!

Now if only I could learn to French braid my own hair and not have to pay someone to do it.

We are surprisingly good at figuring out where we are. Especially when we’re not where we thought we were.

One might think that we should then also be very good at not ending up being not where we thought we were… or whatever… you know – we should not be getting LOST.

But we never got LOST.

Sometimes we ended up not being exactly where we expected, but we always figured out exactly where we were and got ourselves back to where we were meant to be with minimal interruption to the program at hand.

Of course, perfect navigation would be better. We’ll get better at that too.


One response to “What DamBusters Taught Us

  1. Pingback: Fosicking for Tiles | Rusty Red Roof·

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