Schools Relay

Saturday, 7 December 2019

I seem to spend most of my days at the moment either teaching orienteering to primary school students, or doing orienteering related stuff.  This week the Schools Relay event which I've been planning all year finally happened. With the help of lots of volunteers we managed to get all 30 kids all around their courses without too many mistakes or mishaps. They looked like they all enjoyed it so next year we'll try to grow the event even more.


St Helens is Awesome

Saturday, 7 December 2019

I've spent the last few days in St Helens with Clare checking out some stuff for next year's Australian Championships.  Actually we only spent half a day checking stuff out. We spent the other 1.5 days checking out the new mountain bike trails, which were totally awesome.

On the first day we rode some of the loops at the Flagstaff trailhead. This was the first time I'd ridden my bike for ages, so it was a great way to get back into it. The loops were pretty easy and very fun and the facilities at the trailhead were pretty impressive. Nice toilets, a cafe and a bike wash station. Afterwards I rode back to town while Clare drove the car back. It was a lovely 4k descent to the edge of St Helens then a 3 k cruise back to where we were staying with Rob.   I would have more photos but my phone went flat.



Today we rode the 2nd part of the trail which comes all the way from Derby. Our part was 22kms and started on the Ansens Bay Road and ended at the beach.  Most of the descending comes in the part we didn't do, so we had a good 16 or so kms of flat and gentle climbing before we got to swoosh down the final hills. It was fantastic fun and generally not too scary - in fact I was able to ride all the features which was awesome.  The views were lovely and the forest was georgous - but we knew that already from our orienteering/rogaining adventures around here.




Our adventure wouldn't have been possible if Rob hadn't kindly dropped us off at one end and picked us up at the beach at the other. Thanks Rob!  

St Helens has always been nice but with all these new trails it is even more awesome.  


Adelaide Wedding

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Two weeks ago we went to Adelaide for the wedding of Jon's nephew Brynn. It was a lovely evening and the venue was beautiful.

We weren't allowed to take photos during the ceremony. Which immediately made it the thing I most wanted to do in the whole world. So I did. 


Amazingly I wasn't dragged away by the wedding police so we were able to stay and enjoy the nice views while we passed the time between the ceremony and reception (2.5 hours!).   This is Jon, his mum and his brothers and sisters.  Jon is the youngest.


Zali and Jett both had new clothes for the occasion, so they both looked very fancy. 



The rest of our Adelaide weekend was spent hanging out with family and consuming vast quantities of food. To try to compensate for this I went for a few runs in the National Park as well. It was very nice.


2019 Australasian Rogaining Championships

Monday, 11 November 2019

We're not hugely into rogaining (a very long version of orienteering) but as the Australasian Rogaining Championships were being held in lovely St Helens and most of the organisers were also orienteers we could hardly not go to this event.  We had enjoyed the last  event we went to about a year ago - admittedly it was just 6 hours long though!

This time we were entered in the 24 hour championship class. Zali and Jett were doing it together as the only under 23 team entered, and Jon and I were a team in the very competitive mixed veterans class. This meant we had 24 hours to visit as many checkpoints as we wanted and we could rest for as little or much as we wanted in the night.  As we're not very serious we'd already decided we would definitely be returning to our tents to sleep before heading out again in the morning.  Paul's team (and many others) were planning to stay out all night. 

At a rogaining event you are given your map 3 hours before the event officially starts, which seems like ages but by the time you've made a vague plan, packed your gear and lodged all your safety paperwork it's time to go!    Zali and Jett planned their own route while we worked on ours.


Making snack bags


Jon doing some measuring with string


about to start 


Once we started Jon and I were amongst a big group of teams making our way through the bush to the close controls but as people chose their own routes or fell behind they gradually dropped out of sight. By about the 4th control we were all by ourselves doing our own thing.   Zali and Jett had chosen a similar route to start with but we weren't exactly sure what their plans were after that so it was a delight to bump into them on a hill about 2.5 hours after we started.


They had already had lunch (I think they stopped about 10 minutes after they started!) so we farewelled them and sat down for  our own lunch.


It was at this point that Jon got out his measuring string and told me that we had around 30k to go before we would make it to the All-Night-Cafe, which in turn was still at least 10k from our tents.

That was actually more information than I really wanted and I came to the realisation that our day was going to be a lot longer than I thought (I imagined us getting back to home base at about 10pm) so I started to feel a bit down.  But once we cleared a few more controls, including ascending and descending a giant rocky hill, I started to feel more positive about it all and we were having a nice time together as went along.  We also had a few easier track routes to look forward too which were quite pleasant going.  Generally the forest was pretty nice and there were lots of spring flowers out.




At 6pm the All-Night-Cafe opened - we were still a long way away from it, but we joked to ourselves that Zali and Jett, keen for some free cake, would certainly have been waiting outside the door for it to open. So it was a pleasant surprise when we finally made it there just as it was getting dark and found Zali and Jett sitting together on one of the couches in front of the fire eating toasted sandwiches!  They had executed their route pretty much as planned but it had taken a bit longer than expected so they had only just arrived.  After being waited on kindly by the bemused Lions Club volunteers  (I had a toasted sandwich, soup, & cake) we all put on head torches, re-filled water, put on all our warm clothes and headed out into the dark to find some more controls on our way back to  home base.  The kids had chosen a relatively straight forward route by the main road, and we had a more complex one where we had to go back into the hilly forest to visit 3 controls before getting out onto the road to finish off the last few controls.


The All Night Cafe

The first part of our forest leg involved crossing a thigh deep creek so we decided to stay as dry as possible by crossing in bare feet and rolling up our tights. It was pretty cold by then so we tried to dry our sandy feet and get going as quickly as possible once we made it to the other side. As we stood up Jon realised he didn't have his compass.  Uh Oh.  It wasn't with us, which meant it had to be on the other side - aargh!  Just as he was preparing to cross back to search for it, a team we'd just crossed paths with minutes earlier re-appeared on the other creek bank - they'd found Jon's compass and kindly took it back to the crossing point where they left it for Jon. So after some shouted gratitude he was back into the freezing water for another round trip! Not an ideal start but other than that our forest leg went smoothly, in fact it went really well due to Jon's great navigation our our excellent headlights. Having covered almost 40k by that point we were getting pretty tired by the time we made it out to the road for the final stretch. As we neared the last few controls we noticed we were catching up to Zali and Jett who were travelling with Clare's team by then (Clare found them having a rest by the side of the road and suggested they do the last few controls together which was great). We knew were getting close because as well as punching the control,  you write your team number and the time onto a paper sheet stuck to each control.   We got to the last control 6 minutes behind them, and we just had to get down a steep hill through some thick bits of vegetation and we'd pop out onto a road near home base. It wasn't an easy leg but we made it back and to our surprise we'd somehow overtaken both Zali & Jett and Clare's team who took a less than ideal route and actually spent an extra 30 minutes bashing through thick scrub. - poor them!  So we arrived back around midnight, and Zali & Jett made it back half an hour later. 

Needless to say we all went to bed pretty much straight away despite the free food & drinks on offer at the base camp.  

The next morning Jon and I got up at 6.30, had a quick breakfast and dragged our tired and sore bodies out again just after 7. We left the kids to sleep as we figured they'd done enough.  As we headed out we noticed a few bedraggled looking teams coming in from a long night - including Clare's dad's team who had had some navigational problems and decided just to lie down and rest for a few hours somewhere in the forest.  They were so tough they were just coming in for breakfast before going back out to do some more controls - very hard core!

We did a nice loop around Humbug Point in the sunshine but I'm actually a bit disappointed we didn't make it out earlier as we didn't have time to do what would have been the most scenic parts of the course. Although realistically my legs wouldn't have managed much more distance - they were really sore and while the track sections were ok, walking in the bush and climbing over logs and rocks was really painful!




We executed our cut-down plan pretty well and returned to check in a comfortable 45 minutes before the cut off time - perfect! I've only done one 24 hour rogaine before - it was back in the 90s and I remember almost nothing else except a long, painful & unpleasant run to the finish to make it in time - I was very keen to avoid that nightmare this time around so being able to stroll in to the finish was great!  Clare's team came in a just few minutes behind us.  

During the presentations we learned that the winning teams had got heaps more points than us (each control is worth between 20 - 100 points) - and as we suspected before we started,  if you want to win your class you have to stay out all night. Not something I aspire to that's for sure!  Jon and I finished a respectable 28th overall (of 98 teams) - not too far behind All-Night-Paul who had to cope with an injured team-mate for quite a few hours I think.  The only exception to that was Zali and Jett, who won their class due to being the only competitors this year.  Still I think they deserved  it - they were out for 13 hours straight and covered a solid 25k or so including a lot of hours in the dark - well done them!


As we examined their perpetual trophy later we noticed that their eldest cousin Liam had won it back in 2004 in SA! That's cool!



So all in all we had a really big weekend!  It was a pretty tough adventure but we had lots of fun and made lots of memories! We worked out that we covered around 62k - 50ks on the first stretch, then 12 the next morning.  

That's further than I've ever walked in one day before (and more than the length of the 3 Capes walk!).  In fact it's not much shorter than the Overland Track (not counting the final 20ks around the lake), which has given me an idea.. 



Two Cats

Friday, 1 November 2019

Both based on a photo of Pinto. Neither of them resembling her..



Fat birds

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

This is Clare's arm at watercolour course on Monday - I'm sitting to the right.  There is always a lot of stuff spread about and the high risk that we're going to accidentally dip our brushes into Clare's cup of tea.  On Monday we did realistic birds (above), and cute birds (below).  

Adventures in Peter Murrell Reserve

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Peter Murrell Reserve is a sizeable bit of bushland about a 5 minute drive from our house. Because it has a nice network of tracks I normally run there at least once a week.  However due to a last minute decision to run a night time orienteering training session (so we could all test our headlights ahead of a rogining event in a few weeks) I've been there four times in the last 48 hours.

Firstly I went to check the control sites I'd selected on the map. Many of them did NOT look so good in real life, I even found a control which has clearly been missing for a long time. If no-one has found in 20 years (note the punch attached), it's a pretty good indication that no-one is going to find it in the dark no matter how good their headlights are!


So I moved that control site.  And I adjusted some other ones when I got home.   The next afternoon after printing all the maps it was time to go out and hang the control flags - in order to minimise the chances of them being moved or removed I didn't want to do it too much before sunset, so I started at 6.30, intending to be done by 7.30. And I was, except that along the way I somehow managed to spike myself with a splinter so long and deep that it immediately felt like I'd pulled a muscle, rather than just got a splinter.  Once I stopped to investigate the source of the pain I could see the problem, but no amount of fiddling enabled me to get it out, it just covered my hands and leg in blood. Ugg. I called Jon and asked him to come early with a first aid kit including a scalpel and tweezers, then I made my way back to the car after hanging the remaining flags.

When I met him 20 minutes later he was ready to operate.



Thankfully it came out quite easily but it was quite long, and I think it did actually pierce a muscle or something as it still feels as if the muscle is torn, and it's quite swollen. Ouch. 

Shortly after the minor surgery the participants  rolled up and we sent everyone out into the dark with strict instructions to be back by 9pm.  I was really pleased that everyone returned on time and seemed to really enjoy the opportunity to rollick around the trails in the dark.  Yay.

Then it was time to get the controls in. During this exercise Jon and I could finally test out the various brands of headlights and see which worked the best for us.  As the rogaine is just a week and a half away we really needed to do an online order that very evening to ensure they arrive on time! Between Jon and I we took out Jett's new Petzl, Clare's new Ay-Up, and Niko's Feorei light which was also brand new. It's worth noting that these lights are expensive - they cost around $250 each - so we wanted to make sure we invested in the best ones for us.

 Jon and I headed out together, stopping along the way to compare the reach of the light beams and swap the lights between us.   The Feorei light was actually my least favourite so I stowed it in Jon's backpack right before we split up to get the last few controls  - about a 2k run for each of us.  This was uneventful  and we met up back at the car 15 minutes later. Which is when Jon discovered that his pack (bulging with control flags), had opened itself up and dropped out the only thing of real value - Niko's light.  Aargh!!  By now it was almost 10pm.  It was clear we'd have to retrace our steps (well Jon's steps) over that last 2k. It was a bummer but I figured we'd spot the light  it quite easily because his route was only on tracks.  Which is when Jon revealed he had actually decided to cut across the thickish bushland from one track to another for 500 metres at one point.  Oh dear.  Anyway  I sent Jon back out to look while I returned home to the kids.  He arrived home at 11pm having run a further 5k, and had had no luck despite criss-crossing the bush section 4 times. 

With a sinking feeling I got up before 6 and went back to the car park. I was a bit afraid that if it was lying on a track that it would be spotted by early morning dog walkers, so my first sweep was to re-run the tracks that Jon had taken.  No luck.  Then it was time to retrace his steps through the bush. We had analysed Jon's GPS trail the night before so I had a good idea of where he'd been.   After an hour of searching including 5 trips across the thickish bushland ..



I gave up.  I wandered dejectedly back up the track towards the car thinking about what I was going to say to Niko and his dad, and how I was going to source a new light for them before the rogaine.  Not to mention fretting over the $250 it was going to cost.  Ugg.

That's when I noticed the head torch sitting in bushes beside the track..





Somehow Jon and I had run past it already - I'd even run right past it in the daylight and not seen it, but becaue I was walking in the opposite direction, it was finally possible to see it.   Phew. 

So Peter Murrell has delivered a lot of experiences these past few days! Vintage controls, fun night training, a puncutered leg, minor surgery and a lost and found incident!  I think I might give the area a rest for a little while!


Painterly Mornings

Friday, 25 October 2019

Clare and I are doing a watercolour night class at the moment. It's fun but it can also be quite frustrating as we don't always achieve the effects we are aiming for.  

Similarly determined to improve, we've been practising at home both together and separately.  Yesterday was so nice that I was able to set myself up on the deck for a few hours. It was fun.


Sunny Afternoons

Friday, 25 October 2019

While it was tempting to spend yesterday afternoon sprawled on the floor in the sun like Pinto..


I took myself for a run at Coninngham instead. The weather was so nice that the main beach was positively busy, with tonnes of people basking in the sun and swimming in the water.   In fact it was so busy on the beach that I avoided running on it, and instead went to the far extremes of the clifftop track - the south end finishes in a little rocky bay with delightfully clear water:

The other end is a secluded little beach:


So nice.



Arm End

Sunday, 20 October 2019

It's weird looking back at Kingston from the other side of the river.   And it's weird actually being in the place that we look at from our living room. It's not far as the crow flies, but if the crow owned a car, it would take it 50 minutes to get there.  


It was quite a blustery day but still a good day to go for a run with Meisha at Arm End while Jon talked coaching stuff. 


Cat Hats

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

The other day I collected up all the beanies that Zali had made recently so I could count the ones that needed pom-poms. I arranged them all on our bed then went off to do something else.

When I came back Pinto had arrived. 


She was clearly sending us a message.  It could be have been that she simply wanted to play a game of 'one of these things is not like the other ones', but we knew that wasn't the really it.

She was telling us that she wanted a beanie of her own. Of course.

Not wanting to deny her, Zali whipped up a beanie that afternoon. As you can see Pinto loves it.  


Back to the 60s

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

With a little bit of time on my hands (ok lots), I made a wedding cake for Clare's mum and dad's 50th wedding anniversary.  They were married in the 1969, so the theme of the celelebration was of course the 60s. It was good fun.


For my costume I borrowed Denny's boots, and adjusted a hitherto unworn dress I owned - including adding a fabric flower with the offcuts.  I had Zali do my hair in 60s puffy style..


I was happy with the end result..


The evening was really nice. There was lots of 60s style finger food on offer which reminded me of the only cookbook I remember from my youth - a big old volume with strangely tinted colour photographs and pages like this..(that's a meat loaf igloo btw)


 I'm not sure if they were truly a 60s innovation but a few people brought along curried egg sandwiches which were delicous. I stuck to them and stayed away from the squid tentacles on toothpicks and pigs in blankets. Ugg.

Creepy Cakes

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Feeling slightly halloweenish, Zali made this creepy cake this week.  



It was gross, but not so gross that we didn't eat it. 

Beechworth Day 9

Monday, 7 October 2019

The final day of our 'holiday' featured the Oceania Middle Distance championships.  With no more events left this was definitely my best chance to finally get a win and I was really keen to do so!   My plan was to use the fail-proof 3 step strategy.  Step 1. Start as fast as possible, Step 2. accellerate through the middle part of the race,  Step 3. Sprint to the finish.   And all without making any mistakes of course.    With tired legs and a sleepless night due to drunken wedding guests keeping everyone in my section of the hotel awake until 5am, what could go wrong?? 

As it turns out I did manage to start well - the splits tell me I  was fastest to the first control and I was ahead of Clare by a whopping 4 seconds at the 5th control.  For the next 7 controls I was just slightly behind as the lead changed hands between Clare and our other major competitor  - Martina (who won the Oceania sprint championships this year and pipped me for first by a few seconds in two races the easter carnival in WA).  


Clare's route is in red, mine is in blue. 

At the 12th control I regained the lead again - this time I was ahead of Clare by 36 seconds (due to a 1 minute mistake of hers), and just ahead of Martina by 7 seconds. Unfortunately that turned out to be the last time, as I lost 30 seconds at the very next control by misreading (ok, failing to read) the control descriptions.   Despite finishing as strongly as I could (including being fastest in the finish chute by 5 seconds), I ended up 3rd - 11 seconds behind Clare who was just too good all carnival and who won despite her one minute mistake,  and 3 seconds behind Martina.  On the one hand it was heartbreaking, but on the other it's actually really really fun to have such great competition!   By Australian standards we had a large field in our age group at this carnival - over 20 runners in our class - over half of them from NZ, and it turned out that with the exception of the Sprint there was at least 2 of the three of us on the podium in each race - proving that even though we are normally a small field when the NZers aren't here, we are a very strong one.  

This is Clare on the podium with her parole officer:


(actually part of the land we ran on was owned by the Correctional Department - so the presenter was the boss).   

Both Jett and Jon had good races today as well - Jett nabbed third place in a big field so it was great to see him up on the podium, and Jon was 2nd despite his injury from yesterday.  Zali's run was ok but not one of her best.


Our Australian team beat the NZ team overall in the ANZ Challenge which was nice (and made wearing our dorky yellow tops worthwhile) . Most of the team members were on their way home by the time we took this photo but it's nice to have a record of our efforts!


After the event we made our way to the airport, where I was finally reunited with Jon, Zali and Jett, and we had an uneventful flight home. Overall the carnival was really good fun. I had a lovely time staying with Clare and her parents, and it was great to catch up with friends from everywhere, including some new ones we made overseas this year.


Beechworth - Day 8

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Today's long distance championships was exactly that - LONG! It didn't help that I made a 6 minute mistake at the 2nd control but it did mean I had a chance to slowly improve my placing over the rest of the race which featured two very long & hillly legs.  In the end Clare was once again too good for everyone and I was very happy just to get onto the podium in third place.


The kids also had good runs - for a long time it looked like Zali had sewn up 3rd place, but she was bumped to 4th at the last minute - still a very good run from her, and a top 10 run from Jett who has been very consistent this carnival. 

Unfortunately Jon rolled his angle in the rocky terrain reasonably early on and had to pull out. Funnily enough it was at this event exactly a year ago that he tore his calf muscle. A week of looking after 20 or so kids will put you off your game I reckon!

After our races Clare and I were asked to do some commentary which turned out to be quite fun. The organisers were specifically trying to have some female voices on the microphone so that was good and we got some nice feedback for our efforts. The event today had a great arena with a big screen tracking the routes of some of the competitors which made for an exciting atmosphere.



Once we returned home (to the asylum) I had a quick rest then went out to play a few holes of frisbee golf with Andy, Lyra and Alexa. The extensive grounds of the asylum make for good golfing!


After another short rest we headed out for a picnic dinner down by the lake with Susannah and her family. It was all very lovely. 

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